NoMADS: Studying Bacterial Resistance in Space

NoMADS: Studying Bacterial Resistance in Space
NoMADS Team Cooke

To celebrate 20 years of continuous human presence on the International Space Station, NASA is sending five student projects to the International Space Station as part of its Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS). One of the five experiments NASA selected for its 2022 launch is NoMADS, research on bacterial mutation in space conducted by a team of UNH Manchester students and their faculty advisor, Sue Cooke.

About the Project

Led by Team Cooke, Novel Methods of Antibiotic Discovery in Space (NoMADS) examines how soil bacteria evolve or mutate in space. The project also seeks to identify if there are more antibiotic-producing bacteria in space through comparing samples sent to space with a control sample on Earth.

By studying how bacteria acts differently in space—such as mutations, antibiotic resistance and antibiotic production—the team hopes its research will help improve astronaut health as well as source new antibiotics that can be used on Earth.

Learn more about NoMADS

Meet Team Cooke

  • Dr. Sue Cooke headshot
    Sue Cooke, Ph.D.

    Dr. Cooke, lecturer of biological sciences and biotechnology, is faculty advisor for the NoMADS project. Cooke was the first faculty member from New Hampshire to train with the Small World Initiative, an innovative program that encourages students to pursue careers in science while addressing a worldwide health threat – superbugs and the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Through this initiative, she developed a course on microbes and microorganisms at UNH Manchester that led to the development of her research program and the NoMADS project. Outside of work, Cooke enjoys running races with her daughter, working in her garden and going out for trivia nights or live music with her husband.

  • Donald Plante
    Donald Plante, Ph.D.

    Donald Plante is an assistant professor and coordinator of the mathematics curriculum at UNH Manchester. Plante brings experience and enthusiasm to the classroom, igniting interest in a subject that many struggle with. Plante is currently exploring the use of 3D printers to create new mathematical models, and he enjoys sharing his passion for creativity with his students in a popular “Introduction to 3D Printing” course that he recently created.

  • Raymond Miller Headshot
    D. Raymond Miller '23G

    D. Raymond Miller is a graduate student in the master's in biotechnology program at UNH Manchester and co-leader of the NoMADS project. His first degree is in large-format fine art photography. In addition to his work with NoMADS, Ray does independent research on bacterial diversity of New Hampshire mountain soil. He has a passion for serving his community, which includes tutoring ESOL students and working in UNH Manchester’s COVID lab. In his free time, Ray enjoys hiking and painting.

  • Sydney Rollins
    Sydney Rollins ’21, ’23G

    An alumna of the biological sciences program, Sydney is now pursuing her master’s degree in biotechnology. She co-leads the NoMADS project as well as performs independent research to discover novel antibiotics from soil bacteria. In addition, she teaches lab classes and works in the COVID lab at UNH Manchester. In her free time, Sydney enjoys playing with her dog, Taco, skiing and going to the beach.

  • Irma
    Irma Vrevic ’23

    A nursing major at UNH's College of Heatlh and Human Services, Irma serves as social media coordinator for NoMADS and supports the team's youth outreach. She works as a part-time licensed nursing assistant and aims to work in the medical field in the future, with a goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. In her free time, Irma enjoys reading every chance she gets and watching movies.

  • thomas
    Thomas Gerton ’23

    A biotechnology major and Millyard Scholar, Tom heads up the 3D modeling aspects of the NoMADS project. Tom is Raymond's lab assistant for his research on bacterial diversity of New Hampshire mountain soil as well as an intern at Advanced Solutions, which designs and manufactures robotic and vascular platforms for building human tissues. In his free time, Tom enjoys rock climbing and riding his motorcycle. 

  • Ben Beane '21
    Benjamin Beane '21

    With a passion for lab work and love for space, Ben has found the perfect opportunity to combine his interests in his work on the NoMADS project. An undergraduate student in the biotechnology major at UNH Manchester, Ben performs antibiotic discovery research with Team Cooke’s research team. When he is not the micro lab, Ben loves being active by going to the gym, walking his dog, snowboarding or playing a round of golf.

  • Dianne Moschitta '21, '22G
    Dianne Moschitta '21, '22G

    Dianne is a graduate student in the master’s in biotechnology program at UNH Manchester, where she also received an undergraduate degree in biotechnology. In addition to working in the lab for NoMADS, she works on pancreatic cancer research with Dr. Kristen Johnson. She is an aspiring astronaut hoping to study the effects of microgravity on plant growth and development. Outside of work, Dianne enjoys hiking, playing video games and caring for her large collection of houseplants.

  • Nela Klonowski '21
    Nela Klonowski '21

    A recent graduate of the biotechnology program, Nela works for a biotechnology company in Boston. She performed a comparative soil bacteria study focused on antibiotic production in her senior year at UNH Manchester, and she now contributes to both the science and outreach portions of Team Cooke’s NoMADS. Outside of work, Nela enjoys playing and learning classical pieces on the piano.

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