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Genes in Space Experimental Design Competition Launches

Press Releases | January 13, 2020

Genes in Space, a competition that seeks to inspire the next generation of innovators and scientists, opened a call for entries today. Genes in Space invites students in grades 7-12 to pioneer research on the International Space Station (ISS) by designing DNA experiments. The winning experiment is conducted by astronauts aboard the ISS. The contest is a collaboration between miniPCR bio and Boeing with additional support from the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, MƒA, and New England Biolabs, Inc.

"Genes in Space inspires students to get involved in science and engineering by opening a door to the impossible,” said miniPCR bio’s Sebastian Kraves, co-founder of the contest. “We are proud to once more extend this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to students across the U.S.”

Genes in Space challenges students to design original DNA experiments that address real-life challenges and opportunities of space exploration. Proposals are submitted by teams of one to four students and must use the ISS as a testbed for space exploration. The contest is free to enter, and does not require equipment. The application will close April 17th, 2020.

25 awardees win prize packages including a miniPCR DNA Discovery System for their educational institutions. Five Finalist teams additionally receive mentoring from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists and attend the 2020 ISS R&D Conference, where they present their ideas to a panel of judges. The winning team attends Space Biology Camp and watches their experiment launch into space.

“This competition has led to scientific accomplishments in low-Earth orbit that help decipher fundamental elements of health in space,” said Boeing's Scott Copeland, co-founder of Genes in Space. “Each year, students propose outstanding experiments that inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists, and contribute to a future of sustainable deep space exploration”.

Since the founding of the contest in 2015, Genes in Space has launched six student experiments to the ISS. Winning students have been responsible for significant advancements in the technical repertoire available onboard the ISS; their experiments have led to the first polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and first use of CRISPR geneediting technology in space. Students Finsam Samson and Yujie Wang of Troy, Michigan, who won Genes in Space 2019, are currently preparing their experiment on neural gene expression for a 2020 launch. 

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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.


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