Careers: Is There A Biologist On Board?

When we think of who becomes astronauts, many of us think of pilots or even engineers.  While many astronauts ARE pilots and engineers, they are also scientists!  A background in Life Sciences can be a huge help when you’re living and working in space. 

 Read about Dr. Jessica Meir and how her background in Marine Biology and Physiology helped her become an astronaut and eventually one of the iconic women who participated in the first all-female spacewalk!

 Astronaut Candidate Zena Cardman also has a background in Biology.  Visit and read about how her work on ships and in Antarctica prepared her for NASA.

 NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, a Molecular Biologist, sequenced DNA in space for the first time ever for the Biomolecule Sequencer investigation, using the MinION sequencing device.

 All of these Biologists used their backgrounds as stepping stones for their work with NASA.  Coming from three very different biological interest sets, they used their passion for life science to make connections to space.


To earn credit for this activity, think of an experiment YOU would want to conduct in space.  Would it be the effects of microgravity on cancer cells?  Perhaps you’re curious about how an oyster or clam forms a pearl in microgravity.  You may even wonder what connections can be made between organisms that thrive in deep oceans and how that could be used to research and find organisms that would thrive in deep space.

 Write a plan for your research as if it was begin conducted aboard the ISS.  Include the Question, Background Information, Procedure and Materials.  What do you think will happen?  How long will you conduct this research?  How can a background in Biology help you in your experiment?  You should also name a current or previous astronaut to partner with you on your project and explain why you chose them.

 Your essay should be well-written and hit all of the points listed above.