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NASA Tech Talks

Category: Aerospace, Community Event, Founders & Startups, Investors & Capital




June 27, 2024
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm CDT


4201 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002


We want HOU! Join us to discover NASA’s toughest tech challenges and apply your skills and expertise to solve them.
Featured Program: Microbes in Space!
Characterization of the International Space Station (ISS) microbiome has been enabled by culture-based sampling followed by Earth-based analysis. As human exploration pushes beyond low-Earth orbit, microbial-related crew health, planetary protection, and space research questions require in situ capabilities. Steps toward reducing Earth-dependence for complex sample analysis began in 2016 with the amplification of DNA within the miniPCR thermal cycler and DNA sequencing with the MinION sequencer onboard the ISS; for both, samples were prepared on Earth.
In 2017, these platforms synergistically enabled the in situ identification of unknown bacteria collected and cultured from ISS surfaces, thereby shifting the paradigm that microbial cultures had to be returned to Earth. The following year, a culture-independent, swab-to- sequencer method further advanced spaceflight microbiology, demonstrating that culturing could be excluded and providing enhanced insight into the bacterial profile of ISS surfaces. Following the success of these investigations, these methods have been expanded and utilized for routine microbial monitoring of both ISS surfaces and water. Additionally, capabilities have been expanded for whole genome and shotgun metagenomic analyses. This seminar will focus on the efforts toward advancing modern microbiome profiling onboard the ISS, the data collected to date, and future efforts to expand sample type and nanopore sequencing applications.
About the Speakers
Dr. Sarah Wallace serves as a technical lead in the Microbiology Laboratory at the NASA Johnson Space Center, which is responsible for mitigating infectious disease risk during human spaceflight. Her responsibilities include the assessment of microbial risk based on vehicle and mission architectures as well as crewmember, food, and environmental monitoring. These assessments are used to develop requirements for NASA and commercial spaceflight vehicles, including the International Space Station. In addition to her operational support of human spaceflight, Dr. Wallace leads new technology initiatives for her discipline with the goal of reducing Earth-dependence for complex sample analysis. She has served as PI for numerous spaceflight investigations, including those to increase off-planet molecular biology capabilities.


Ion District Parking Garage

Enter 4111 Fannin Street into your GPS for directions directly to this parking garage, located a block from the Ion. Parking in the Ion District Garage is free for the first two hours.

Red Parking Lot

Enter 4203 Fannin Street into your GPS for directions directly to the red parking lot, located across the street from the Ion. This lot is for overflow guest parking and tenant parking and is free for the first three hours.

For information and access to pay online for parking in the red lot, click here


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