NASA’s STAR Program

Spaceflight Technologies, Application, and Research (STAR)

Learn to Design Biology Experiments for Space


Spaceflight Technologies, Application and Research (STAR) is a one-week, intensive space biosciences research course that will be held at NASA Ames Research Center on in the spring of 2021.  This course targets principal investigators (PIs), senior research scientists, and postdoctoral scholars and aims to facilitate their entry to space biology and preparation for spaceflight experiments using NASA and commercial platforms.

The curriculum includes space biology and its practical applications, including technical and logistical considerations, opportunities, and the unique advantages and limitations of conducting an experiment in space. Course participants will also have opportunities to interact with PIs with prior mission experience, developers of spaceflight technology and flight providers.

The 2020 STAR Program participants have been selected! Meet them here.

What are the Goals of this Course?

  • To train principal investigators, researchers and postdoctoral scholars in space biosciences, exposing them to spaceflight hardware and educating them on the principles of conducting flight experiments
  • To support collaborations between new and experienced space biology researchers
People gathered at NASA's Biosciences Collaborative Laboratory for the ribbon cutting.

Biosciences Collaborative Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center

The course will take place at the Biosciences Collaborative Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center near Mountain View, CA. It is a brand new, state-of-the-art research facility that hosts multiple conference rooms and rest areas. Lab tours will be available. The participants and speakers will be housed in a nearby hotel in Sunnyvale, California. Shuttles will be available to move between the hotel and NASA Ames Research Center. The nearest airports are San Jose International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.

Please inform Dr. Cekanaviciute of any special accommodations that you may require during the course.

Meet the Organizers

Dr. Marianne Sowa
Dr. Marianne Sowa is the Chief of the Space Biosciences Division, and the Acting Space Biology Portfolio Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. Her research interests include using 3D cellular models to investigate tissue responses to ionizing radiation.

Dr. Lisa Carnell, NASA LARC
Dr. Lisa Carnell is the Senior Scientist for Partnerships under the Biological and Physical Sciences Division at NASA HQ. Her scientific interests include the application of 3D tissue platforms for evaluating spaceflight stressors and developing medical countermeasures.

Dr. Egle Cekanaviciute
Dr. Egle Cekanaviciute is a scientist in the Radiation Biophysics Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, Space Biosciences Research Branch. Her scientific interests include investigating the effects of spaceflight and deep space radiation on the central nervous system.

See examples of recent space biology flight projects


  • Must have an advanced degree (MD, PhD, or equivalent)
  • Participants must be a US citizen or permanent resident at the time of application
  • Postdoctoral scholars must include a reference letter from their supervisor in their application


Q: Is this course open to foreign nationals / visa holders? What if I expect to have my permanent resident status at the beginning of the course?
A: Only citizens and permanent residents can be course participants. The citizenship or permanent resident status has to be valid at the time of submitting the application. There will be no exceptions for this course.

Q: Will funding be available?
A: NASA will provide no funding for the course participants to participate in the course activities, except reimbursement of authorized travel expenses, which may include flight and accommodation.

Q: Is this course open to students?
A: Currently, the STAR course targets principal investigators, senior researchers and postdoctoral scholars. In the future, some parts of it might be extended to include students.