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Locations

U of I College of Engineering

Mailing Address:

Janssen Engineering (JEB) Room 125
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1011
Moscow, ID 83844-1011

Phone: 208-885-6470

Fax: 208-885-6645

Email: engr-sss@uidaho.edu

Web: College of Engineering

U of I Boise Engineering

Mailing Address:

Idaho Water Center 
322 E. Front Street 
Boise, ID 83702

Phone: 208-364-6123

Fax: 208-364-3160

Email: denisee@uidaho.edu

Web: Boise Engineering

U of I Idaho Falls Engineering

Physical Address:

1776 Science Center Drive, Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

Phone: 208-757-5400

Fax: 208-282-7929

Email: ui-if@uidaho.edu

Web: Idaho Falls Engineering

U of I CDA Computer Science

Physical Address:
1031 N. Academic Way, Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

Phone: 208-292-2509

Email: cmmorrison@uidaho.edu

Web: U of I Coeur d'Alene

Engineering Outreach

Physical Address:

Engineering Physics (EP) Building, Room 312
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1014
Moscow, ID 83844-1014

Phone: 208-885-6373

Fax: 208-885-9249

Email: outreach@uidaho.edu

Web: Engineering Outreach

Handpicked By NASA

Student team sends research to International Space Station as finalist in nationwide project

Vandal innovation is headed to the International Space Station (ISS).

A University of Idaho College of Engineering team is one of five groups selected nationwide for NASA’s Student Payload Opportunity With Citizen Science (SPOCS) program to build an experiment that will fly to the ISS and remain undisturbed for 30 days before returning to Earth.

The team includes chemical engineering seniors Adriana Bryant, Hannah Johnson, Travis Lindsay, Roslyn McCormack, Niko Hansen and Kael Stelck. Led by Matt Bernards, NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium Director and U of I chemical engineering associate professor, they will spend spring semester researching how microgravity impacts the efficacy of polymers known to resist bacteria on Earth.

Official NASA SPOCS Team Site

Read the team’s blog, engage and follow all the project developments!

U of I NASA SPOCS

“The goal of our project is to ultimately further space travel by reducing bacteria growth and disease on the International Space Station. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our experimentation could be potentially be utilized to prevent sickness here on Earth as well” Adriana Bryant, Senior in Chemical Engineering

“The goal of our project is to ultimately further space travel by reducing bacteria growth and disease on the International Space Station," Bryant said. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our experimentation could be potentially be utilized to prevent sickness here on Earth as well.”

Synthesizing two types of polymers, the team will test the ability of these molecules to resist bacteria on an aluminum alloy that is utilized for many high-contact areas throughout the ISS, such as hand rails and door handles.

The two polymers going to the ISS have been selected using trials completed by third- through fifth-graders at J. Russell Elementary School in Moscow. As part of the NASA-funded project, teams are expected to involve K-12 students in their research.

Lindsay, McCormack and Stelck refined a non-toxic gel solution containing the bacteria-resistant polymers. Using petri dishes containing three different bacteria-resistant polymers and a control, elementary students were asked to get creative, collecting bacteria from various sources including sinks, floors, windows, lunch tables, keyboards and even a bottle of hand sanitizer.

“These students gave us 91 different data points to get a conclusion from,” said SPOCS Chief Citizen Science Officer Kael Stelck. “Our team would have had to do an incredible amount of work, especially with a project of that nature. It was really beneficial to have these young scientists run it.”

Over the course of 30 days, elementary students were asked to “feed” potential bacteria growth in their petri dishes using a nutrient broth designed to help bacteria thrive. Monitoring daily changes, students then reported which two polymers they believed to be the best candidates to send to the ISS.

The SPOCS team then analyzed the data to verify results and choose the top two performing polymers. The next major step will be to attach these polymers to aluminum plates and prototyping the container in which these research tools will be sent.

Their completed research will be sent to the ISS in 2021. The SPOCS program is designed to celebrate NASA’s 20 years of humans in orbit on the ISS.


Article by Alexiss Turner

Chemical engineering seniors Travis Lindsay (left) and Roslyn McCormack refine four different polymer gels for research kits distributed to local elementary students.
Chemical engineering seniors Travis Lindsay (left) and Roslyn McCormack refine four different polymer gels for research kits distributed to local elementary students.
Travis Lindsay mixes a saltwater solution that will contain the polymers known to resist bacteria on Earth.
Travis Lindsay mixes a saltwater solution that will contain the polymers known to resist bacteria on Earth.
NASA SPOCS Team with Citizen Scientists
Two-hundred and forty Russell Elementary third through fifth graders received a research kit to help our U of I team verify results.

Locations

U of I College of Engineering

Mailing Address:

Janssen Engineering (JEB) Room 125
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1011
Moscow, ID 83844-1011

Phone: 208-885-6470

Fax: 208-885-6645

Email: engr-sss@uidaho.edu

Web: College of Engineering

U of I Boise Engineering

Mailing Address:

Idaho Water Center 
322 E. Front Street 
Boise, ID 83702

Phone: 208-364-6123

Fax: 208-364-3160

Email: denisee@uidaho.edu

Web: Boise Engineering

U of I Idaho Falls Engineering

Physical Address:

1776 Science Center Drive, Suite 306
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

Phone: 208-757-5400

Fax: 208-282-7929

Email: ui-if@uidaho.edu

Web: Idaho Falls Engineering

U of I CDA Computer Science

Physical Address:
1031 N. Academic Way, Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

Phone: 208-292-2509

Email: cmmorrison@uidaho.edu

Web: U of I Coeur d'Alene

Engineering Outreach

Physical Address:

Engineering Physics (EP) Building, Room 312
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1014
Moscow, ID 83844-1014

Phone: 208-885-6373

Fax: 208-885-9249

Email: outreach@uidaho.edu

Web: Engineering Outreach