Meet the people behind the research happening in the ISS National Laboratory! These principal investigators (PIs) are full of curiosity and passion for their scientific pursuits. Find out how they got where they are today, and see how their research is making a difference—not just for space travel, but also for our daily lives here at home.
Arun Sharma helped send an experiment to space that used heart cells with an unusual history: they started out as human skin cells and were reprogrammed to become heart cells! They thrive well in laboratory conditions, unlike cells extracted directly from a human heart.
Chunhui Xu studies heart cells with the goal of improving the heart’s ability to regenerate after injuries. She studies a heart-specific type of stem cell that survives and multiplies better in microgravity than in regular Earth gravity! To find out why, she is designing an experiment to fly to the ISS.
Mary Kearns-Jonker studies a type of heart stem cell that could be important for treating and preventing cardiovascular disease. Sending these cells to space leads to new discoveries about their functions because they change their behavior in response to microgravity.
Anna-Lisa Paul studies how plants adapt to extreme environments. For her experiments on the ISS, she has engineered Arabidopsis plants engineered to reveal changes in their cells by changing color or glowing in the dark! Results of her research are challenging scientists’ assumptions about plant behavior.
Rob Ferl is Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research at the University of Florida-Gainesville. He studies how plants adapt to extreme environments, including the microgravity conditions onboard the International Space Station.
Ruhul Amin studies harmful algal blooms (HABs) from space using remote sensing instruments including the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO), on the International Space Station. It is important to detect and map these toxic blooms accurately to understand, predict, and prepare for them.