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Finalist Teams Selected for International Space Station STEM Competition

Press Releases | May 22, 2018

The Genes in Space science contest announced five finalist teams in the annual U.S. competition. More than 1,200 students from grades seven through 12 proposed 559 DNA analysis experiments to address real-life space exploration challenges and opportunities. Student proposals range from establishing the use of genome editing tools in space, to mitigating challenges to astronaut health using molecular methods, to bioengineering solutions for space colonization. The winning experiment will be performed aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The five finalist teams involving 12 high school students will be mentored by scientists at Harvard University and MIT. The teams will present their proposals to a panel of scientists and educators at the 2018 ISS Research and Development Conference in San Francisco, California, July 23-26. The winning team will work with their scientist mentors to prepare their investigation and will watch their experiment launch to space.  

The 2018 Finalists:

Farhan Zaman (17) and Andrew Chow (17) from Bronx High School of Science in New York, NY. 
Topic: Root hair development in plants in microgravity.

Both Farhan and Andrew were mentored by MƒA Master Teacher Marisa Wagner!

Kevin Lin (16) from Lick Wilmerding High School, San Francisco, CA and Jenny Yang Jin (17) from Tatnall High School in Wilmington, DE. 
Topic: Gum health and bacterial plaque composition in space.

Kaylie Hausknecht (16) from Lynbrook High School, Lynbrook, NY. 
Topic: Engineering Cyanobacterium to terraform Mars.

Joseph Garza (16), Krishan Ubongen (17), and Addison Correll (17) from Roosevelt High School, San Antonio, TX. 
Topic: Growth and virulence of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in space.

David Li (17) from Woodbury High School, Woodbury, MN and Michelle Sung (16), Aarthi Vijayakumar (16), and Rebecca Li (16) from Mounds View High School, Arden Hills, MN. 
Topic: CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing as a tool to investigate double-strand break repair in microgravity. 

About Genes in Space

Genes in Space is a national STEM contest that challenges students in grades 7 through 12 to design DNA analysis experiments using the ISS National Lab, a platform for cutting edge research and technology development that enables future deep space exploration. The contest is a collaboration between miniPCR and Boeing with generous support from CASIS (manager of the ISS National Lab), Math for America, and New England Biolabs®.

The U.S. competition is accepting student projects for 2018. Submission deadline is April 20th. Learn more: 

About the Sponsoring Organizations:


A unit of The Boeing Company, Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Defense, Space & Security is a $31 billion business with 53,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

Math for America

At MƒA, we’ve created fellowships for accomplished mathematics and science teachers. Our model is based on the belief that collaboration, continued learning, and genuine respect enables teachers to grow professionally and provides long-term career satisfaction. This is a remarkable community of teachers who stay in the profession longer and define what teaching excellence means. These are teachers who inspire and motivate their colleagues. They change the lives of their students. Learn more at


miniPCR reinvents lab technology to make science simple, accessible, and exciting, enabling everyone to experiment at the cutting edge of biology.

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)

CASIS was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet.

New England Biolabs, Inc. (NEB)

NEB is the industry leader in the discovery and production of enzymes for molecular biology applications and now offers the largest selection of recombinant and native enzymes for genomic research. For over 40 years, NEB has been committed to the advancement of science and science education. For more information on our products and corporate initiatives, please visit