Student Teams Selected as Finalists for International Space Station Science Competition

Five finalists have been selected in the second annual Genes in Space competition, in which American students were invited to design an experiment using DNA analysis to solve a real-life space exploration problem.

The winning experiment will be performed aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Finalist proposals include investigations to study radiation damage, engineer biological solutions and assess the impacts of microgravity on human physiology.

Genes in Space aims to inspire collaboration among seventh through 12th grade students and scientists and expose students to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The five finalist teams will receive mentoring from scientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will help make the experiments feasible for space research. The teams will present their proposals to a panel of scientists, educators and technologists at the 2016 ISS Research and Development Conference in San Diego, July 12–14. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the conference.

Members of the winning team will participate in a space biology workshop to prepare their investigation and then be invited to watch the launch of their experiment from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The finalists were chosen from more than 380 applications across the country. The finalists are:

  • Amy Gu, 17, and Maria Byamana, 17, from Cambridge, MA;

  • Dylan Barcelos, 16, Kylie Cooper, 16, and Mason Frizado, 16, from Fall River, MI;

  • Finsam Samson, 15, from Troy, MI;

  • Julian Rubinfien, 15, from New York, NY;

  • Justin Harris, 18, Savanna WeaselBear, 17, Corey Ardrey, 18, and Seth Bittle, 18, from Ada, OK.

The Genes in Space competition is sponsored by its partners Boeing, miniPCR, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, New England Biolabs and Math for America.

The first-ever Genes in Space experiment was by Anna-Sophia Boguraev, a 17-year-old high school student from Bedford, NY. It was performed April 19 aboard the ISS, making it the first DNA amplification experiment ever conducted aboard the Space Station.

Genes in Space also sponsors a similar contest in the United Arab Emirates. For more information about the Genes in Space competition, and for lists of finalists and honorable mentions, visit

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].