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Transcript for "Dr. Jane Hill - What Happens When Bacteria Go to Mars?"

JANE HILL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR:

My name is Jane Hill and I'm in the School of Engineering, and we do really cool work with pathogens in my lab.

Text: What happens when bacteria go to Mars? Professor Jane Hill, University of Vermont

We just received some tremendous funding from NASA in order to study what happens when our bacteria ascend up into space.

Why do we care about this? When humans travel from Earth to Mars they go on an multi-month trip. During that time both the humans and the bacteria experience "no gravity" -- weightlessness -- and we know that humans, certainly their immune system, responds to no gravity and it goes a bit crazy, and the same thing is true with bacteria. So here at UVM we are trying to understand what happens to bacteria when they are grown in simulated micro-gravity conditions.

We are particularly interested in pathogens such as E. coli, Pseudomonas, Salmonella -- some of which you have heard in the news. When we throw them into microgravity conditions and compare them to regular gravity, we can see how more or less virulent they are.

With this information we can help figure out what may be important to astronauts as they travel from Earth to Mars.

Credits: Video: Dawn Densmore; Editing: Keri Toksu
UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, www.uvm.edu/~cems
Copyright 2009

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