Student NameCatherine Martinez
Faculty Mentor NameAmor Menezes
CollegeAerospace Engineering
MajorMaterials Engineering
Research InterestsControl theory, microgravity, space science, robotics
Academic AwardsNational Space Club and Foundation Goddard Scholarship 3rd place (2017), Brooke Owens Fellowship Finalist (2019), Dean's List (Spring 2018), Bright Futures, Gator Club of Miami Scholarship (2017)
Hobbies and InterestsFilmmaking, hiking, building animatronics, playing the harmonica

Research Project

Towards the Control of Space Microbiomes

Space-associated microgravity ​causes bacteria to be more virulent, which renders the community of microorganisms that is currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS), its microbiome, to be an urgent concern. Traditional cleaning methods that use disinfectant wipes and vacuums are ineffective because antibiotic-resistant bacteria, fungi, and opportunistic pathogens have been found aboard the ISS. Thus, there is a need for techniques to modify and control the current ISS microbiome. Using concepts from control systems theory, this project will develop novel passive and active approaches to sense and regulate space microbiome proliferation and virulence, ​toward future possible ISS deployment. A community that models the ISS microbiome ​​will serve as a testbed on​ which to evaluate the efficacy of proposed passive and active control interventions. These interventions will be further evaluated in modeled microgravity that is produced by a high aspect rotating vessel. The broader impacts of this research include potential​ dynamical approaches to manipulating the microbiomes of built environments on Earth.