Peering Into the Gray Cloud Using Spaceflown RNA

colinkruseColin Kruse, Wyatt Lab manager and researcher, is looking for genes not yet identified as related to gravity response in plants. To do this, Colin and Dr. Sarah Wyatt enlisted the help of NASA to germinate seedlings in microgravity conditions aboard the International Space Station. The spaceflown samples have since returned to earth and Colin will soon complete the next milestone in the NASA-sponsored BRIC-20 microgravity experiment. Using RNA extracted from spaceflown seedlings and ground controls, Colin hopes to  identify the genes involved in the plant signalling biochemical pathway.

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Anatomy of a Space Experiment

How to Send Your Experiment into Space: Anatomy of a Space Experiment

Scientists studying the effects of gravity face the difficulty of designing experiments that isolate the effects of gravity. Ideally, this means conducting an experiment in the absence of gravity – no easy task while on Earth. Certainly, the best place to run a long-term gravity experiment is space or while orbiting the Earth in microgravity conditions; however, getting your experiment into space might be as hard as neutralizing gravity on Earth. This is the dilemma Dr. Sarah Wyatt faced in the search for the genes controlling the signaling pathways of plants responding to changes in gravity.

When NASA Research sent out a call for research proposals for the International Space Station (ISS), Wyatt recognized an opportunity for the Wyatt Lab to take their gravitropism research to the next level. Perhaps you have an experiment you want to run aboard the ISS? Or maybe you just want to know what it takes to get on the ISS research roster. The following briefly describes some of the major milestones in designing and deploying an experiment in space.


Figure 1: NASA BRIC-20 Major Project Milestones

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Unlocking the Black Box of Plant Response to Gravity

Sarah Wyatt, PhD

Dr. Sarah Wyatt presented “Plant Gravitropic Signal Transduction: A Network Analysis Leads to Gene Discovery” at the annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) October 25th in Pasadena, CA. The presentation described recent work the lab has made toward developing a network of gene expression data that is helping them to expand the knowledge of how plants respond to gravity. Read more here.

Dr. Wyatt Awarded Presidential Teacher Award

_Wyatt-PT-Award 2014September 23, 2014 – Dr. Wyatt was awarded the Ohio University Presidential Teacher Award. She was nominated by students and peers for her innovative teaching practices, curricular leadership, student mentoring, and scholarship. She will hold the title of Presidential Teacher for three years. Congratulations, Dr. Wyatt!

Tech Savvy Conference hosts middle-school girls and parents

by Erica Molfeto, Ohio University

The Baker University Center was buzzing with excitement on Saturday, May 17, for Ohio University’s first-ever Tech Savvy conference.

Fifty four middle-school girls from 13 counties in Ohio and West Virginia gathered on campus to learn more about the rewarding careers that math, science and engineering have to offer.

The mission of the day, according to event chair and keynote speaker Sarah Wyatt, “”was to encourage middle school girls to continue their education in science, math and engineering. It is important because they are good paying jobs with solid futures, jobs that are increasing now with great potential for the future.” Read the rest of the article here: http://www.ohio.edu/compass/stories/13-14/5/tech-savvy-2014.cfm

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Professor Sarah Wyatt talks with the students and parents about her programs research studies for NASA during the Tech Savvy workshop. Photo by Jonathan Adams, Ohio University.

NASA Announces Wyatt Flight Experiment on International Space Station

Among the 31 space biology research proposals NASA announced on May 29 for immediate implementation is an experiment with Arabidopsis seedlings by Dr. Sarah Wyatt, Professor of Environmental & Plant Biology at Ohio University

NASA will fund the “Research Opportunities in Space Biology” proposals to help investigate questions about how cells, plants and animals respond to changes in gravity. Nine flight experiments will be conducted on the International Space Station, 14 ground-based studies are designed to lead to the development of hypotheses to be tested on space station, and 8 proposals to collect preliminary data by investigators new to space biology. Selected proposals are from 21 institutions in 13 states and will receive a total of about $14.9 million over a one- to four-year period. Scientific and technical experts from academia and government reviewed the proposals.

Wyatt’s experiment is an International Space Station flight experiment on “Proteomics Analysis Of Arabidopsis Seedlings In Microgravity.”

“This is a big adventure. Just figuring out what it takes to do a spaceflight experiment is monumental: the acronyms, the hardware, the paperwork, refining and detailing the experimental parameters, the timeline, the pressure,” Wyatt says. “It’s not like we can just redo this if something doesn’t work. It’s a steep learning curve! But really exciting. Our stuff is going to fly!” Read more …

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Source: Ohio University College of Arts and Sciences Forum

Photo Credit: Ohio University College of Arts and Sciences Forum