Eastside student named Genes in Space finalist

The Genes in Space nationwide annual competition selected an Eastside High School senior as one of its five finalists on Wednesday.

Vedant Karalkar, 17, is one of five sets of finalists chosen for the contest where high school contestants propose DNA science experiments to run on the International Space Station (ISS). The winner will have their experiment carried out on the ISS.

Karalkar’s topic is entitled, “Measuring the phytohormone ethylene in space-grown plants.” Kralkar was initially named an honorable mention, but one of the other finalists had to withdraw due to a scheduling conflict and Karalkar was named to take her place among the finalists, according to a Genes In Space release.

Finalists will present their topics at the ISS Research & Development Conference in Washington, D.C., on July 25-28.

Vedant Karalkar
Vedant Karalkar

The criteria for the Genes in Space competition include the student living in the U.S. and being in grades 7-12. Students can work individually or in a group of up to four, and the finalists must be available to present the Genes in Space finals. 

Last year, Karalkar represented the state of Florida at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair after he earned top honors at the state competition for developing a low-cost diagnostic test for high-poverty nations. In February, he was one of 39 Alachua County Public Schools students to qualify as a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program. 

According to the website, the Genes in Space competition started in 2015 as a collaboration between Boeing and miniPCR bio with the goal of inspiring young minds to solve real-world problems in the biological and physical sciences. Since then, generous sponsors including the ISS U.S. National Laboratory and New England Biolabs have joined the competition.

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