Article | | By Jamie Lott
With NASA’s goal to explore Mars in the 2030’s, Tougaloo College professor, Dr. Santanu Banerjee has been called upon to assist with research in preparation. A $26,000 grant will allow Banerjee to conduct research which will mimic environmental conditions on Mars such as UV radiation, temperature, humidity and microgravity. The goal will be to test bacteria samples to determine how long it will survive.
This is not the first time Banerjee’s research has received attention. Banerjee is also a Mississippi INBRE Research Development Award recipient. Mississippi INBRE is housed at The University of Southern Mississippi and provides benefits to researchers and students across the State of Mississippi for biomedical research through funding by the National Institutes of Health.
“The research facility was developed entirely using INBRE support. [Mississippi INBRE] has continued to provide support through grant writing workshops and mentoring opportunities to encourage grant applications beyond INBRE,” said Banerjee.
While Banerjee’s research will provide valuable information for future space exploration, it also comes with many other benefits. This grant allows for collaboration between researchers in the biology department at Tougaloo College and at Jackson State University.
Students will also receive benefits from this as it will provide more opportunities for internships, research and training, and incorporation of NASA related research into curriculum.
“Another important goal of the project is to incorporate NASA related material into the curriculum and provide training to STEM undergraduate students who are highly underrepresented in NASA related fields,” said Banerjee.
Assistant Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Tougaloo College, Dr. Bianca Garner credits Mississippi INBRE with support and encouragement to apply for such a grant as this.
“Tougaloo College has a long history of academic excellence in the graduation of STEM students. With support from the Mississippi INBRE, we have been able to expand these opportunities, enhancing our curriculum and increasing research opportunities,” said Dr. Garner. “We have worked with INBRE to strengthen our research capabilities, providing students the opportunity to perform cutting edge research on our college campus.”
Mississippi INBRE, directed by Dr. Mohamed Elasri, associate dean and professor in The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Science and Technology, is a statewide program that is supported by an award from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences. Their mission is to enhance the biomedical foundation in Mississippi and to reach out to Mississippians in order to improve health throughout the state.
Mississippi INBRE seeks to engage talented researchers and students in biomedical research projects that will increase the state’s research competitiveness as well as impact the health of citizens of Mississippi.
For more information about Mississippi INBRE, check out their website, msinbre.org.