bulbAsset 2Coffeeemailfacebook-dsdVector Smart Objectemailhandsinstagram-dsadaketchun-logolinkedin-dasdasquote-startVector Smart Object1searchtrophy2Asset 2twitter-dsadafacebook

ExploraVison National Science Competition Winners



1st place

Sebastian Theiler, Emily Schmidt, Vera Pankevich
Martian Mycrops: Transporting Perchlorate Reducing Bacteria via Fungal Mycelium to Efficiently Reduce Perchlorate Concentration in Martian Regolith

Agriculture on Mars is hindered by the presence of perchlorates in Martian regolith, which inhibit thyroid function in humans and are toxic to plants. Perchlorate-reducing bacteria can effectively reduce perchlorates into chloride and oxygen, which are not harmful. In order for such bacteria to be able to survive and transport itself through the arid Martian regolith, it needs a continuous liquid film. Such a film exists on hydrophilic fungal hyphae, and mycelial networks can be sufficiently hardy, drought-tolerant, densely packed, and able to survive in the presence of toxic metals, that they would make an ideal host organism for the facilitation of bacterial transport and thus perchlorate reduction.

Project website and paper.

2nd place

Dr. Elisa Rambo (mentor), Gabriel Gurt, Marlan Jha, Peter Fehrenbach (Toshiba)
CiliaBuilder: A Hair Prosthetic for Your Ears

Imagine hair extensions inside your ear! Hearing loss due to noise exposure is a common issue for billions of people. Although this form of hearing damage is preventable, around 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to noise. Hearing loss can be caused by a physical degradation of stereocilia inside the cochlear canal. Healthy stereocilia are able to move in response to sound waves initiating a signal that is received by the brain. When damaged, the stereocilia are shortened and unable to move properly. This project will present a solution to this problem. Using targeted protein binding, a cilia prosthetic will be docked onto the damaged stereocilia. The prosthetic will lengthen the damaged cilia restoring the proper movement potential and the cochlea’s ability to send signals to the brain.

Project website and paper.