University launches space research partnership

Michael Foale

University launches space research partnership

University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has announced a new partnership with the International Space School Education Trust (ISSET), which will see UWS research projects being tested out on the International Space Station (ISS).

The initiative, which will give the University and its PhD students the opportunity to collaborate with NASA and other American academic institutions, aims to apply research to tackle challenges we face both on Earth and in space.

The announcement was made during a launch event at the University’s Paisley campus, where British astronaut Michael Foale spoke to an audience of students, senior Scottish academia and industry, about his experience in orbit.

Through the partnership, UWS academics will have the opportunity to use their knowledge for growing healthy plants on the ISS, the effects of growth hormone administration on muscle mass and cognitive function, and the changes in material decomposition in space, among others.

The University has also announced the creation of three fully-funded PhD scholarships as part of the partnership.

Professor Ehsan Mesbahi, vice-principal (academic) at University of the West of Scotland, said: “Our new partnership with ISSET represents a key step forward in realising UWS’ strategic vision to link its multi-disciplinary expertise to projects in space.

“Through collaboration with ISSET, NASA, and a number of important American academic institutions, our PhD students have the opportunity to explore the unknown opportunities that space, and the ISS itself, presents.

“The partnership will undoubtedly bring many benefits to the academics and their research, and will go a long way in building our knowledge of what’s achievable both in space and on Earth. The University is immensely proud to be part of such an important initiative, which puts Scotland firmly on the map for this type of exploratory study. We wish every success to the PhD students taking part in it.”

Dr Julie Keeble, chief scientist at the International Space School Education Trust, said: “The opportunity to send research into space is so unique and fantastic for anybody who manages to achieve it. There’s one International Space Station working on behalf of the entire planet Earth, yet there are thousands of laboratories on Earth carrying out science.

Des Gibson, professor, Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging at University of the West of Scotland, said: “UWS’ institute of thin films, sensors and imaging is bringing sensor technology to this project to look at optimising plant growth in a space environment. The project gives UWS the opportunity to work with prestigious organisations such as NASA and ISSET, and for the students, it’s allowing them to experience a real-world project, applying science they’ve learned at UWS to space.”