Sixth Grader Visits Biotility to Further Research on Protein Expression in Space

Collins Sheldon, (left), Dee Reedy (middle), and Lisa Fontaine-Dorsey (right) examine lab materials in the science lab at North Marion High School in Ocala, FL.
Collins Sheldon, (left), Dee Reedy (middle), and Lisa Fontaine-Dorsey (right) examine lab materials in the science lab at North Marion High School in Ocala, FL. Photo credit: Allison Williams / Fresh Take Florida via

Out of 2,261 proposals, Collins Sheldon was one out of just 39 students to have her project selected by the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program. This program chooses student experiments to launch into space, which are then performed by astronauts in the International Space Station to gather data for the students. At just 11 years old, Sheldon’s proposal was selected with the question “Does Microgravity Affect Protein Production of Escherichia coli?”

Sheldon is testing whether microgravity in space affects the production of E. coli proteins that could be made into medicines. Her work could have positive implications for the production of biopharmaceuticals to treat diseases like cancer, diabetes, and more. Sheldon felt this was necessary to test because bacteria has the ability to become resistant to medications used to treat various illnesses. When this happens, new biopharmaceuticals will be needed to treat people, and Sheldon’s research may propose a solution. Similarly, Sheldon determined that with the potential for space colonization, space pioneers would need the ability to create effective pharmaceuticals in microgravity conditions for the health of space travelers.

Sheldon’s experiment was launched to space in June 2023, and this January she followed up in the Biotility lab to take a few measurements on her experiment samples. Although she is in middle school, Sheldon was working with students and equipment at North Marion High School. When they did not have some of the equipment Sheldon needed, Dee Reedy–a teacher in NMHS’s Industrial Biotechnology program–immediately thought of longtime partner Biotility. We were thrilled to give Sheldon the opportunity to analyze her experiment results, and we were honored to be included in her work. The entire Biotility team is excited to follow her research on protein expression in space!

➡ Read more about Collins and her exciting work.


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