Nestorova proposal chosen to take part in NASA EPSCoR research program
A research proposal written by Dr. Gergana Nestorova, Assistant Professor of Biology and the program chair for the graduate program in Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology (MSNT) at Louisiana Tech University, has been chosen to take part in NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
“The NASA EPSCoR Rapid Research Response (R3) program is a collaborative effort involving NASA EPSCoR, NASA Centers, and mission directorates,” Nestorova said. “Its primary objective is to facilitate collaboration between NASA EPSCoR researchers and NASA itself in addressing targeted research questions that are current priorities for the agency’s programs and missions.”
The goal of the project is to develop a bacterial enrichment device for rapid, selective, and sensitive microbial genotyping of spacecraft surfaces. Nestorova alongside Dr. Giorno-McConnell, Associate Professor in Biology at Louisiana Tech University, and Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran, Senior Research Scientist at JPL Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group will aid NASA in the development of technologies for rapid bacterial genotyping in space.
“Successful completion of this project will mark a significant milestone in rapid pathogen detection and genetic analysis of the spacecraft microbiome,” Dr. Sumeet Dua, Executive Associate Vice President of Research and Partnerships for Louisiana Tech said. “It will provide valuable research training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, contributing to the advancement of space exploration and positively impacting the state of Louisiana.”
The ability to perform microbial analysis in a low-gravity environment is important for maintaining crew health and mitigating risks associated with microbial contamination. The successful implementation of this project would serve as a stepping stone for future orbital and sub-orbital testing of the technology.
The project will focus on fabricating and testing a lab-on-a-chip platform for rapid, single-step genotyping. The funding amount for the project will be used to provide support, conference travel, and research training for both graduate and undergraduate students.
The project has a duration of one year and starts on September 1st, 2023.
“Dr. Nestarova and her team are pushing the boundaries of space health and safety, ushering in a new era of microbial detection for the betterment of space exploration,” Dua said. “The results of this study will not only pave the way for integrating her platform with on-chip amplification and gene expression analysis but also have far-reaching implications for future space missions.”