Vivan Yee is a high school student at the International Academy and is part of ME Professor, Allen Liu’s, research lab. During Yee’s time spent in the lab, she has been mentored by Liu for her submission to the Genes in Space Competition. This national competition is a collaboration between Boeing and miniPCR that aims to inspire young students to solve real-world problems in biological and physical sciences. Students are challenged to design a DNA experiment to address challenges in space travel and deep space exploration.
Liu gave a summary of Yee’s project, which he stated, “The project aims to investigate the effect of microgravity on the accuracy of DNA recombination and segregation during gametogenesis. It is known that microgravity affects the microtubule cytoskeleton which can negatively impact cell division and thereby leading to germline mutations. Since melatonin has been shown to stabilize the cytoskeleton, the project will test if melatonin can reduce germline mutations. The success of this study could have implication to reproduction and fertilization in space.”
This year’s finalists were announced and Yee was named in the top 5. The finalists will advance to the next part of the Genes in Space competition where they will prepare a final presentation for a panel of scientists and educators who will determine the winning proposal. Whoever is chosen will be able to work with a mentor to prepare their experiment to be carried out in space and see it launch to the International Space Station.