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5/10/19 Plants in Space!

Extended human space travel to Mars still sparks excitement in all demographics, and will become a reality within a decade, as will return trips to the moon. However, long missions will require growing plants in micro- and low-gravity, minimally for nutrition. Despite success with growing plants on the International Space Station (ISS), many hurdles remain for reliable production, and new scientific discoveries are made every mission. Our work growing plants on the ISS is mid-way through and Dr. Hanson will discuss our most recent discoveries as well as how we have been using our ISS experiments to excite 5th-9th grade students at Explora. Finally, we are starting new initiatives and will be seeking volunteers and other partnerships! David Hanson is a UNM Professor of Biology whose research focuses on physiological, ecological, and energy-related aspects of photosynthesis in plants and algae, particularly elements of the carbon reactions. He is currently lead or senior personnel on five Federal awards totaling over $8.5M from NSF, DOE, ARPA-E, and NASA , including the first experiment in the new Advanced Plant Habitat on the International Space Station (which will be the focus of the interesting conversation). He has advised 4 post-doctoral fellows, 9 PhD and 7 MS students, provided research opportunities and mentoring for over 50 undergraduates (~60% women and 55% URM), and has over 50 peer-reviewed publications, and 2 pending patents. He is also an Associate Editor for the journal Photosynthesis Research, a 2014 Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, a prior Panel Manager in the USDA AFRI Foundational Program, and is featured in the current issue of UNM's Alumni magazine. He is also the proud father of 11 year-old twins and is active in their Boy and Girl Scout activities as well as their soccer and competitive jump rope (yes Albuquerque has a team)!

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