NASA’s STAR Program

Spaceflight Technology, Applications, and Research (STAR)

Learn to Design Biology Experiments for Space


Spaceflight Technology, Applications and Research (STAR) is a virtual NASA program for space biosciences training. The annual course targets principal investigators (PIs), senior research scientists, and postdoctoral scholars and aims to facilitate their entry to space biology and preparation for conducting spaceflight experiments using NASA and commercial platforms.

Course curriculum includes fundamental 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 also have opportunities to interact with PIs with prior mission experience, developers of spaceflight technology and flight providers.

Program Goals

  • Train principal investigators, researchers and postdoctoral scholars in space biosciences, exposing them to spaceflight hardware and opportunities and educating them on the principles of conducting flight experiments.
  • Support collaborations between new and experienced space biology researchers.

Current STAR Participants

Program Alumni

Feedback from Previous STAR Participants:

“The STAR program provides a unique opportunity to learn about the scientific opportunities at NASA from researchers from all over the agency and principal investigators funded in the past. After learning through this program you understand the ways to work with NASA and also meet collaborators who can help build interdisciplinary teams." – Dr. Noah Weisleder, Ohio State University

I knew next to nothing about conducting science in space before taking this course. I was worried that this would be a real disadvantage for the lectures, but the length of the course and the content selected is excellent. It is specific but also general enough that a wide audience from different backgrounds and different levels of experience can all appreciate the topics. Furthermore, the encouragement to ask questions allows for great discussion which even further facilitates learning and networking. I am so glad to have been a part of the course and wish I could take it again!” – Dr. Chelsi Cassilly, Harvard University (now at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center)

"This course provides an excellent introduction to the shear breadth of potential applications and tools available for the space-based biological research community. Additionally, the opportunity to interface with other researchers involved in, or looking to become involved in, the NASA mission is fantastic, particularly for someone new to this application space." – Dr. Jacob Miner, Los Alamos National Laboratory

“The STAR program has been a fantastic opportunity to learn about cutting-edge space biology research, network with other investigators in the field, and gain insight into the logistics of spaceflight experiments. I would highly recommend this program!” – Dr. Kelly Crowe, Mount St. Joseph University

Course Organizers

Dr. Lisa Carnell is the Director of the Biological and Physical Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters. Her scientific interests include the application of 3D tissue platforms for evaluating spaceflight stressors and developing medical countermeasures.

Dr. Egle Cekanaviciute is the STAR Course Director and a principal investigator in the Space Biosciences Division at NASA Ames Research Center. Her research is focused on the effects of spaceflight and deep space radiation on the central nervous system and the immune system.

Dr. Ursula Koniges, NASA HQ

Dr. Ursula Koniges is the Deputy Program Scientist for Translational Research at the Biological and Physical Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters.

Dr. Marianne Sowa is the Acting Deputy Director of Science at NASA Ames Research Center. Her research interests include using 3D cellular models to investigate tissue responses to ionizing radiation.

Dates and Deadlines

Information regarding STAR-5 is anticipated in 2024.


  • Open to participants from commercial entities, international organizations, academia, NASA Centers, and other government agencies who meet the following requirements:
    • Advanced degree (MD, PhD, or equivalent) required.
    • Postdoctoral scholar applications must include a reference letter from their supervisor.
  • U.S. citizenship is not required for application.


Q: Is there a fee to attend the course?

A: The course is free of charge.

Q: Will funding be available?

A: NASA will provide no funding for the course participants to participate in the course activities.

Q: Is this course open to undergraduate or graduate students?

A: Currently, the STAR course targets principal investigators, senior researchers and postdoctoral scholars. In the future, a complementary course may be created to target undergraduate and/or graduate students.

Q: How will the participants be selected?

A: The review and selection of applications submitted in response to this opportunity will be made by the STAR organization team in accordance with NASA policy and other considerations. Applicants will be notified by NSPIRES of their acceptance.


For any questions about the STAR program please contact Dr. Egle Cekanaviciute.

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