Members Of Dirigo
Our team consists of nine undergraduate students, two graduate students, a senior staff member and two faculty members, each with unique qualities and areas of expertise. Each team member had individual tasks to perform during our stay at NASA (some of which we discovered when we got there). The tasks each member had could be collectively portrayed as three different crew types.
- The laboratory ground crew worked primarily at the Bioscience Core Lab we collaborate with at Johnson Space Center. They focused on preparing the cells for our flights. (However, everyone took part in preparing the cells for analysis after the flights).
- The Ellington Field ground crew spent the majority of their time at the hangar, adjusting our rig as NASA personnel directed and completing any tasks that came up that we could not plan for.
- The flight crew consists of five "flyers" and an alternate flyer, all had to be undergraduates. They spent their time being trained and briefed for flight, and had the privilege of flying on the Weightless Wonder (not a privilege for all flyers, it is nicknamed the "Vomit Comet" for a reason).
Each person has a very unique background and had a memorable experience at NASA; please enjoy their brief and somewhat personal biographies and their stories.
John Wise, Jr. is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Maine, majoring in biology. John has been working in the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology for four years now. He is the student leader for our project; his duties include designing the protocols, making sure everyone is ready and on task, yelling at his brother, James, when he gets sidetracked, and fearlessly leading our team to where no other Maine undergraduate student has gone before. Between going to class, going to work, and keeping up progress on our project, John enjoys discovering new music, hanging out in the Old Port, going someplace outdoors, and playing as much soccer as possible. He has also recently begun learning about the teachings of Buddhism, and applied some of its principles to his life.
Jane McKay is an undergraduate student in the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology working on a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Southern Maine. She will be working as a flight crew member for the project. Her hobbies are 'TNTC' (too numerous to count), but she plays a lot of whiffle ball with her two children.
Mike Browne is an undergraduate student at the University of Maine, as well as a Pulp and Paper Foundation scholar majoring in Chemical Engineering. Michael has been working in the research lab of Dr. Mason since the fall of 2007, focusing on the synthesis of silica-coated gold nanoparticles as dynamic optically active bio-nanoparticles. For the current NASA Project, he is the team readiness leader and is also part of the outreach team, which focuses on raising public awareness about the Microgravity University and the specifics of our research project. When Mike is outside of classes and work, he enjoys long distance running, going to the gym, and traveling to different cities.
James Wise is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Maine, majoring in Chemistry. James has been working in the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology for over two years. His research includes studying the effects of lunar dust compounds on human fibroblast cells, and frog cell culture. He will be part of the ground crew and the alternate flyer; his duties include assisting his brother, John, on the protocol development, and making sure everyone is ready for our trip (including making sure everyone finishes all of the never ending forms from NASA). Between going to class, and going to work, James enjoys listening music, driving around, trying to collect every single Blu-ray Disc made and obsessing over Jim Morrison.
Jennifer Brown is an undergraduate student in the Class of 2010 at the University of Maine, majoring in biological engineering and minoring in microbiology. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and UMaine's Chemical Car Team. Jennifer began her work in Dr. Michael Mason's laboratory in Fall 2008 and she is currently researching nanoparticle sizing techniques using a modified high-performance liquid chromatography system. Last summer, she gained a National Science Foundation / Department of Defense fellowship which involved utilizing Linux-based supercomputing technology to model the biological dynamics of harmful algal blooms, or "Red Tide" phenomena, in the Gulf of Maine. In other recent research, Jennifer participated in genome mapping of the plant pathogen Rhizoctonia solani and conducted soil diversity analyses as part of a large UMaine / U.S. Department of Agriculture project. Jennifer's personal interests include tennis, reading, shopping, films, science, and cuisine.
Matt Braun is an undergraduate at the University of Southern Maine majoring in chemistry. He has been working in the Wise Lab or Environmental and Genetic Toxicology for a year. His research includes studying the effects of lunar dust and its components on human skin and lung epithelial cells. He is intrerested in human biology, specifically internal function and drug interaction. This is his first year on the microgravity team traveling to NASA, and he will be part of the flight crew. He has helped out with the fundraising. Besides working and studying, he can be found playing tennis, building things in nature and relaxing in them, and somehow getting suckered into painting his house and copious amounts of other chores every summer.
Dr. John Wise, Sr. is the head of the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology and Director of the Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health. The cell culture work for the Weightless Wonder project will be performed in this laboratory. His research interests include toxicology of metals and particulates including space dusts, marine toxicology, and molecular epidemiology. His recreational interests include reading, soccer, basketball, snorkeling and separating John and James when they start yelling at each other over research work.
Dr. Michael Mason,originally from the Pacific Northwest, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and member of the Institute for Molecular Biophysics, at the University of Maine. Nanoparticle synthesis, pre- and post-flight nanoparticle, and cellular material characterization will take place in his lab. His research interests include nanoparticle and single molecule chemistry, photo-physics, and the development of novel imaging methodologies. His recreational interests include hiking, skiing, racquetball, golf, and spending time with his three children.
Sandra Wise is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine, pursuing a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. Sandy has been working in the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology as the laboratory supervisor for 9 years and only recently became a PhD student. Her research focuses on the effects of chromium induced chromosome instability in human lung cells. Between classes, managing the laboratory, and keeping all of the students in line... Well there isn't time for anything else!
Kellie Joyce is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine, working on her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology. She spent two summers working in the Wise Lab before realizing she couldn't escape, joining the lab full-time in 2008. Her research interests include the effects of microgravity on cell cycle repair, and depleted uranium genotoxicity in human lung cells. As a member of the ground crew on this NASA adventure, she will help prepare the experiments for flight and try not to laugh too hard when the fliers get sick. In her decreasing amount of free time, Kellie is often found swimming, training for triathlons, studying Chinese, or watching the Red Sox.
Christy Gianios, Jr. serves as the Information Technology Director for the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology with degrees in computer systems and information systems from the University of Maryland. He came to our lab after many years at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C. where he enjoyed the hot summers. His research interests include management systems and structures, database design and the interface of bioscience and information technology. His interests include music (guitar), technology, and keeping his wife Charlene, and his dog Diesel happy.
Ryan Duffy is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern Maine, working towards a Bachelor degree in Chemistry. Ryan has been working in the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology for the past year. His research studies at the Wise lab include investigating the cytotoxicity of cellulose nanoparticles on human skin fibroblasts cells. Additionally, Ryan is participating in research focused on analyzing composts and soils for halogenated organic compounds, such as pesticides. Ryan is a member of the ground crew. His duties on the team include preflight experiment preparation, fundraising, and community outreach. When Ryan is not studying or working in the lab, he enjoys hiking, listening to Buckethead, zoning out, and experiencing his third childhood.
Eben Estell is an undergraduate at the University of Maine in Orono studying biological engineering, with a minor in biomedical engineering, and will be a member of the ground crew. His research interests include the functioning of the human body at the cellular and molecular level and nano-technology. While not in the lab, Eben enjoys outdoor activities, sports, and music.
Catherine Wise is an undergraduate student in the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology working on a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Southern Maine. She will be working as a ground crew member for the project. Her research interests are in marine mammals, particularly dolphin biology and toxicology. Her hobbies are soccer, basketball, track and trying to outdo her older brother’s research.
Adam Courtemanche recently graduated from the University of Southern Maine. He was a student in the school of Applied Engineering, Science, and Technology, studying Information Technologies. His expertise in various areas of technology has brought him to our team, where he will serve in roles including camera man, audio/video production editor, and website developer. Using video, the internet, newspapers, and other media, he has been tasked with presenting our Microgravity University experience to the world. Adam loves music. He enjoys playing and listening to jazz, blues, country, and classic rock. During the warmer months he has a blast dirtbiking, motorcycling, rock climbing, and even off-road unicycling. During the winter months he enjoys watching movies with his girlfriend, skiing, and driving in the snow.
Benjamin Freedman is an undergraduate student at the University of Maine working towards a double major in both Chemical and Biological Engineering. A graduate of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, Benjamin participated in an eight month Co-op with Sappi Fine in Westbrook, ME, testing formulations for an environmentally friendly paper product. Benjamin has been a member of Dr. Michael Mason's lab group since the fall of '07, working with graduate students on developing Anthrax biosensors and modifying silver and gold nanoparticles. He plans to earn an advanced degree and work in pharmaceutical or biomedical production. A member of the flight crew for our NASA experiment, Benjamin will also participate in raising funds for the trip, outreach programs, and analyzing the flight data back at Maine. In his free time, Benjamin reads classic literature, works out at the gym, and has recently picked up Jujitsu.