VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize Winner Addresses ASDC

VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize Winner, Elizabeth Blaber, and NASA Ames Academy Director, Dr. Brad Bailey, Address Delegates at the Australian Space Development Conference in Adelaide

The winner of the 2009 VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize, Elizabeth Blaber, is approaching the halfway point of her Academy program. The Academy participants have just returned from a tour of  JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Virgin Galactic and Space X. As well as visiting these cutting edge research facilities, Elizabeth is completing a research project under the direction of Dr. Eduardo Almeida. Dr Almeida flew millions of mouse stem cells on Space Shuttle Discovery in April 2010, to investigate why astronauts’ bones and muscles atrophy and he has given Elizabeth access to these samples to investigate ”The Influence of Spaceflight Factors on Biological Function”, in particular the combined effects of space radiation and microgravity.

During her time at the Academy Elizabeth has shared her experience with  students at the South Australian Space School and the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum. via video conference. When she returns to Australia, Elizabeth will work with VSSEC to develop an educational program based on her research and her experience  at NASA. These activities help to inspire the scientists and engineers of the future and start them on a study path that will help them realise their dreams.

Elizabeth also addressed delegates at the Australian Space Development Conference with NASA Ames Academy Director, Dr. Brad Bailey. Dr. Bailey discussed the objectives of the Academy program  and how the introduction of international students is helping to strengthen international collaboration with NASA.

Discussions are already underway for Elizabeth to continue her association with NASA Ames when she returns to her PhD studies. Dr. Almeida has been in contact with Elizabeth's PhD supervisor, Dr. Brendan Burns and plans are being made for further collaboration between the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at UNSW and NASA Ames Research Center.

For more information about the VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize please visit http://www.vssec.vic.edu.au/student-programs/vssec-nasa-australian-space-prize/ To follow Elizabeth’s Academy experience visit her blog at http://blogs.vssec.vic.edu.au/vnasp/