The SSEP Step 2 Review Board for Mission 1 to ISS

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) is proud to introduce the SSEP National Step 2 Review Board for SSEP Mission 1 to the International Space Station (ISS)—the first SSEP flight opportunity on ISS. On December 13 and 14, 2011, the Board met at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, DC, to review 35 finalist proposals for student flight experiments submitted from across the network of 12 communities participating in SSEP Mission 1 to ISS. Listed below are the 11 Board Members—scientists, engineers, and science educators from academia, federal agencies, and national science education non-profits.

For Mission 1 to ISS, a total of 41,200 grade 5-14 students in the 12 participating communities were given the opportunity to design real experiments to fly aboard the ISS. There were a total of 779 proposals submitted by student teams, with 382 forwarded for review by SSEP Step 1 Review Boards in the communities. Each of these local Boards selected up to 3 finalist proposals for submission to the SSEP National Step 2 Review Board.

For Step 2 review, the Board Members were divided into 3 teams, each comprised of both researchers and science educators, and each team responsible for review of proposals from 4 SSEP communities. Board Members selected 15 flight experiments—12 primary experiments, one for each community, and 3 secondary flight experiments—one each for Lake County, Indiana, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Houston, Texas (read the details at this SSEP Blog Post). The Board Members spent a great deal of time providing thoughtful comments for all 35 proposals, which were forwarded to the proposing student teams by NCESSE. The review went well beyond what is typical of reviews for professional research proposals given there was a deep recognition that the process, and the comments back, were vitally important teachable moments for the student researchers that worked so hard on their proposals. Through SSEP, we want to immerse students in real science. The review process is very much a part of real science, and that process therefore needs to be transparent, and a learning experience.

NCESSE reviewed all comments from the Step 2 Review Board to assess if there were any outstanding questions that needed to be addressed by the selected student flight teams, and on January 5, 2012, NCESSE formally announced the selected flight experiments.

To the thousands of students that participated in SSEP Mission 1 to ISS, regardless of whether your proposal was selected for flight, or it even went before the Review Boards, you need to know that you were given the opportunity to be real scientists and you answered the call. We hope this experience has gotten you excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, has given you insight into real research, and propels you to seek out new opportunities where you can be curious and take ownership … in journey.

So recognize that YOUR COMMUNITY now has an experiment destined for the International Space Station, that you are part of this historic adventure, and now you and your community can rally around your flight experiment and root for its success. Go team!


The SSEP National Step 2 Review Board for Mission 1 to ISS—

1. Dan Crooks
National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
Dan Crooks is a pre-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and is finishing work on a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Georgetown University. He completed a B.A. in Molecular Biology, and an M.S. in Environmental Toxicology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he developed an interest in the roles of metals in cellular processes and in human diseases. Dan is currently performing laboratory research at the NIH on the molecular mechanisms of cellular iron homeostasis using mammalian red blood cell development and a hereditary human muscle disease as model systems. In the future, he plans to pursue questions on the tissue specificity of human diseases as an independent scientific investigator.

2. Dr. Julie Edmonds
Carnegie Institution of Washington

Dr. Julie Edmonds is the Co-Director of the Carnegie Academy for Science Education at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Her Ph.D. is in molecular marine biology, and after spending five years as a researcher in the biotechnology industry, she has concentrated on science education. She leads several education programs at the Academy, and is the education and public outreach lead for two NASA grants to Carnegie’s research laboratories: the MESSENGER mission to the planet Mercury and Carnegie’s NASA Astrobiology Institute team.


3. Nicholas Fingland
Georgetown University Medical Center

Nicholas Fingland is finishing his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry at the Georgetown University Medical Center, focusing on the effect of acidic phospholipids present in the E. coli membrane on DNA replication. Mr. Fingland has significant experience designing and implementing microgravity experiments: prior to his arrival at Georgetown, he worked at NASA Ames Research Center investigating the effects of microgravity on integrin signaling in mammalian cells. While finishing his Ph.D. dissertation, Mr. Fingland is also continuing his research in space biology by collaborating with researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory to conduct research on bacterial endospores, which will form the basis of his postdoctoral research.

4. Dr. Jeff Goldstein
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Dr. Jeff Goldstein is the creator of SSEP, and its Program Director. He is also the Center Director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE). Jeff is a nationally recognized science educator, and planetary scientist, who has dedicated his career to the public understanding of science and the joys of learning. He oversaw the creation of the Center’s national science education initiatives, including the Voyage National Program. He led the inter-organizational team that permanently installed the Voyage model Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC. He is a blogger at the Huffington Post, and writes Blog on the Universe. His planetary science research includes the development of techniques for measuring global winds on other planets using large telescopes on Earth. His research has produced the first direct measurement of the global winds above the clouds on Venus, and the first measurement of the global winds on Mars.

5. Michael Hulslander
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Michael is responsible for science education at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. He also manages the How Things Fly gallery, Moving Beyond Earth gallery, the Public Observatory Project and the Explainers Program. How Things Fly teaches visitors about the science of flight. Moving Beyond Earth is an immersive exhibition placing visitors “in orbit” during the shuttle and space-station era. At the Public Observatory visitors explore craters on the Moon, spots on the Sun, the phases of Venus, and other wonders of the universe using a 16-inch telescope. The Explainers Program gives high school and college students the chance to work at the National Air and Space Museum. Michael has worked in museums and zoos for more than 25 years, researching, writing, presenting and evaluating science programs for school groups, families and the general public.

6. Dr. Rosemarie Hunziker
National Institutes of Health
Dr. Rosemarie Hunziker is the Program Director of the Division of Discovery Science and Technology in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health. Her current research concentrates on investigating technologies to develop functional cell, tissue, and organ substitutes to repair, replace, or enhance biological function either in vivo or in vitro. This multidisciplinary field draws upon and integrates advances in biomaterials, cell and developmental biology, physiology, high throughput assay development, imaging, computational modeling, bioreactor design, and novel engineering methods.

7. Dr. Tim Livengood
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Dr. Tim Livengood is a senior advisor to SSEP, and Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, and works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Tim is a presenter and team leader for the Center’s public and school programs and has visited hundreds of classrooms. Behind the scenes, he creates new hands-on activities, and writes clear explanations of the background science, for the Center’s grade K-12 compendia of lessons. Tim also leads workshops for teachers around the nation on the lessons. Tim’s scientific field is infrared spectroscopy of planetary atmospheres, to measure composition, temperature, and wind velocity. His research includes everything in the Solar System with a significant atmosphere. He is a co-investigator on the EPOCh investigation of NASA’s EPOXI mission, and is the education and public outreach team leader for EPOCh.

8. Dr. Peter Sunderland
University of Maryland
Dr. Peter Sunderland is an Associate Professor, Department of Fire Protection Engineering, and Affiliate Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park. His research interests include combustion and fire protection, including soot formation and oxidation, microgravity combustion, hydrogen flames, laminar diffusion flames, vehicle fires, and diagnostics development. He has supported microgravity experiments in drop towers, aircraft, space shuttles, and the international space station. His previous position was in microgravity combustion research at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

9. Dr. Alex Theos
Georgetown University
Prof. Alex Theos is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Science in the School of Nursing And Health Studies at Georgetown University. His research interests include the role of protein complexes in the biogenesis of specialized organelles, focusing on the intracellular membrane trafficking pathways. Currently, his research is focused on understanding the cell biology of the gpNMB gene product, problems with which cause problems in mice, such as pigmentary glaucoma and bone defects.

10. Dr. Hemayet Ullah
Howard University
Prof. Hemayet Ullah is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology in Howard University. His research interests are in the field of plant biology, especially plant cell signaling, environmental stress physiology, and plant molecular and cellular biology, with current emphasis on unraveling the signaling pathways of extracellular signals inside the cell.



11. Dr. Harri Vanhala
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education
Dr. Harri Vanhala is the Program Manager for SSEP, and a science researcher at the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. His research focuses on the use of computer simulations to investigate the origin of the Solar System, and development of computer models to investigate the properties of present-day planets. His science education activities include leading multiple Journey through the Universe National Teams to under-served communities across the U.S., and managing the MESSENGER Educator Fellowship Program, a nationwide professional development initiative for educators in support of NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury, and Family Science Night at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.