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Algae Research in Space


Limnospira Fusiformis

The team recently completed Phase 1 of the algae growth research, which took place at the University of North Dakota’s Inflatable Lunar/Mars Analog Habitat. We are currently working on analyzing our collected data and writing our first paper for publication. Our presentations at the 2021 Mars Society Annual Convention are gaining the attention of many in the aerospace industry. Erin successfully completed the Phase 2 Well Plate Studies and will be scaling up the project for in-depth laboratory trials. Initial results are auspicious. With the continuation of Phase 2 research underway, the team remains laser-focused on our work to take Spirulina to space! To gain a better understanding of this study, feel free to watch the presentations posted below.


Image Credit: Erin Stamper

It's Rhyme Time!

From the creative work of West Hawaii Exploration Academy student, Andrew Culverwell comes this hip-hop rap song. Yes, a rap song about research, space, and algae! 

Spirulina Algae Research Team


Dr. Kristen Miller


Terry Trevino


Dr. Larry Harrison

Larry earned his Master's of Science in Space Studies with a concentration in Astronomy from American Military University. In 2018, Larry became an employee of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan at their flagship Subaru Observatory to follow his dream of astronomical research. During his time at Subaru, Larry launched a revolutionary "Observatory Technician" apprenticeship program, which is currently being submitted to the State of Hawaii's apprenticeship board for official recognition. In his free time, he enjoys star gazing, hiking, snorkeling, and reading books of historical non-fiction space exploration (especially fond of the 1957-1972 human space exploration era). 


Erin Stamper

Erin is a marine scientist and a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. She currently resides on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi cultivating and researching various species of algae. Although she was born and raised in the mountains of Colorado, her true passion is centered on the oceans of the world and the macrocosm of life beneath their waves. In her quest to satiate her inquisitive nature toward sea life, Erin became an AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences) authorized scientific diver (ASD). Armed with her ASD certification, she earned the Quantitative Underwater Ecological Surveying Techniques (QUEST) 2016 scholarship. The QUEST scholarship opened the door of opportunity, allowing her to lead and train the next cohort of scientific SCUBA divers in regard to coral reef monitoring and underwater research. As a new member of AIAA, her interests have expanded to exploring deep space and what roles microalgae may fulfill for space travel and future Martian settlements.


Emma Follis

Emma is an undergraduate student at APUS currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Space Studies with a concentration in Astronomy. Her space interests revolve around exoplanets, atmospheric science, and astrobotany. When Emma is not deep-diving into a space topic of interest (and excitedly giving new random space facts to her husband when he least expects it), she is either spending time with her family, reading a book, trying to recreate her favorite restaurant dishes, or identifying plants and collecting rocks while hiking. 

West Hawaii Exploration Academy Team 

Dr. Brian Murphy(WHEA)

Dr. Brian Murphy

Brian is a biomedical engineer and is currently working as a high school math and science teacher at West Hawaii Explorations Academy on the Big Island of Hawaii where he helps train the next generation of scientists and engineers. He received his bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and his doctorate, also in Biomedical Engineering, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Brian also works as a medical/science writer helping to disseminate information about rare medical diseases. He and a few students from his school have recently become involved in the Spirulina in Space Project to help with data analysis. When not working, he enjoys spending time at the beach or hiking with his wife and 3 daughters.

Andrew Culverwell (WHEA Student)

Andrew Culverwell

Andrew is in his senior year at West Hawaii Explorations Academy, where he studies and implements machine learning for his engineering research project, the creation of a self-driving RC car. When he's not working with convolutional neural networks or analyzing data for the APUS microalgae study, Andrew is passionate about philosophy, which he believes is essential to building ethical artificial intelligence (for the prevention of evil robot uprisings). In his spare time, he enjoys creative writing, hiking, and playing guitar.

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