Team Members

Bringing opposite ends of Boise State University campus together.

-- Benjamin Davis   I recently graduated from Boise State with majors in Pre-Veterinary studies and Biology with a Cell and Molecular emphasis, and minors in Chemistry and Dance. I plan to pursue a career in academics, teaching and practicing in the context of a veterinary school while pursuing a basic research agenda. My research interests include divergent morphogenesis and the interplay of genetics, the environment, and physiology in homeostasis and development. I have competed successfully for two national undergraduate research fellowships; I spent the summer of 2009 working with Dr. Chris Cretekos of Idaho State University on comparative investigations of limb skeletal development in mice and bats and the summer of 2010 working with Dr. James Coffman of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory examining the effects of dietary restriction and metabolic inhibition on longevity and development plasticity in sea urchin.

Additionally, I have worked as a research assistant in the Biomolecular Research Center at Boise State under the direction of Dr. Julia Thom Oxford since the summer of 2007. Our work in the BRC is primarily concerned with understanding molecular interactions of the extracellular matrix that are relevant to musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and chondrodystrophies.

My contributions to this multidisciplinary team come largely from my educational background in biology. This has afforded me the ability to research and comprehend literature relevant to the scientific questions central to this proposal as well as to actively participate in shaping the intellectual focus and experimental design. My laboratory experience has conferred specific skills that will be of use in preparation for flight, such as cell culture, as well as in post flight interpretation of collected data.

-- Dawn Mikelonis   I am currently pursuing a B.S. in Human Biology with a minor in Psychology, and expect to graduate in December 2013. I also am a member of the Boise State University Honors College.

Since October 2009, I have been a research assistant in Dr. Julia Oxford’s laboratory at Boise State, which investigates molecular interactions in the extracellular matrix, focusing on Collagen XI and diseases such as osteoarthritis. I also was a researcher for the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence in May 2010, where I studied the genetic responses of Streptococcus pyogenes to subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics.

I currently volunteer at the Boise Veteran Association Medical Center, where I assist in the care of patients in the intensive care unit, ambulatory clinic, pulmonary clinic, and emergency department.

-- Stephanie Frahs   I currently hold a B.S. in Health Sciences with a minor in Chemistry and a minor in Dance. I am now seeking a second B.S. in Chemistry with a Biochemistry emphasis expecting to graduate in May 2011. After undergraduate studies, I plan to pursue my graduate degree in Biomaterials Engineering with the eventual attainment of my PhD. Since January of this year, I have been working in the Biomolecular Research Center for Dr. Julie Oxford as a research assistant studying collagen fibrillogenesis in an alginate/collagen composite and the molecular mechanisms of cellular mechanoreception in bone. I am the first in my family to pursue higher education beyond high school. I currently volunteer with the Idaho Discovery Center and the Arthritis Foundation focusing on helping children with juvenile arthritis. I have also volunteered for the Agency for New Americans teaching refugees English and helping displaced families from Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo become acclimated to living in their new American environment.

My technical experience includes but is not limited to Varian 300 MHz NMR, Bruker 600 MHz NMR, GC-MS, FTIR-Raman, Cary Eclipse Fluorometers, Cary UV-Vis Spectrophotomers, and growth of various cell cultures. My computer skills include and are not limited to IGOR Pro, MestReC, Spartan, VMD, WinCoot, Solidworks, Mathematica, Maple 14, and MS Office products.

-- Jake Forsberg   I am a senior computer scientist at Boise State University and will graduate in May 2011 with a B.S. and an intent to continue my academic career with graduate studies in fall 2011. As a member of the Boise State microgravity research program since its formation in 2009, I have been involved with two microgravity experiments conducted on NASA's reduced gravity aircraft. My contributions have ranged from ground support, software development, component integration, and in-flight testing. I serve as the team lead and project manager for this experiment.

I have worked as a research assistant at the College of Engineering on developing software data abstractions for computational urban wind-flow simulations. I have also worked at the NASA Langley Research Center as a Langley Aerospace Summer Scholar, where I developed autonomous flight navigation software for small-scale aerial vehicles and helped to establish Langley’s autonomous vehicle laboratory with a multidisciplinary student research team. I have been privileged to have my research featured on NASA EDGE: Future of Aeronautics, as well as receive honors such as National Science Foundation Scholar and Boise State University Trailblazer Award.

I have experience planning and contributing to multiple outreach activities associated with prior Microgravity University projects.

-- David Connolly   I am currently pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Boise State University and plan on graduating in May of 2013. Last year, as a freshman, I helped with Boise State’s “Gravitational Effects on Water in Regolith” SEED Program team, and also, as a member of Boise State’s Mini Baja Team, assisted in the design and assembly of a dune buggy. Between my participation with Microgravity and Mini Baja I have gained much experience with systems engineering. My selection into and participation in Boise State’s Engineering Residential College my freshman year helped me solidify my aspirations of becoming an engineer. This past summer I did an Internship with Analogee Corporation and gained mechanical and electrical experience working on semiconductors.

I have been a National Science Foundation Scholar from 2009 as well as a Robert R. Lee Idaho Promise Scholar and Dufresne Benefactor Scholar. I earned honors in Boise State’s Mechanical Engineering Program in 2009.

-- Ron Pierce   I am a senior in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Boise State University, and will be graduating with a BSEE in May of 2011. Last year I was a member of the SEED team from Boise State that conducted micro-gravity impedance measurements of water in regoliths. Our experiment was successful and we were able to provide valuable information to the scientists at JPL that will help to improve future methods of locating water in lunar or martian soils. Our team of students from various majors and backgrounds was very effective at integrating a complete functional system and it was a great experience. My primary contributions to the team included the design of custom electrical PCB assemblies and interfaces, electrical power and signal distribution, safety devices and data analysis.

In addition to being a student, I also work full time as a Process Engineer for a large manufacturer of semiconductor devices. With more than 15 years of experience in industry, I feel I can contribute a great deal to the success of this project. Along with my knowledge of electronic systems, I have experience in many areas including process development and monitoring, project management, problem solving, troubleshooting and statistics.

I am married with four children. Some of my past volunteer activities include working with the Red Cross for disaster response, teaching ESL to Vietnamese immigrants, K-12 student outreach, and leadership positions in the Boy Scouts of America.

-- Alex Miller   I was a member of BSU's first "Lunar Rover Traction Concepts" Microgravity SEED team two years ago, and the team leader of last year's "Dynamic Wheel Traction in Lunar Gravity" SEED project. Other engineering projects that I've lead or been a member of include BSU's Aero Design competition team from 2005-2010, and the BSU Unmanned Aerial Vehicle team in 2009. I also worked as a research assistant on-campus, in a ceramic MEMS laboratory from 2006- 2010, and completed a year-long senior project with Sandia National Laboratories.

I am familiar with C++ and Python, and can use LabVIEW, Solidworks, Mathematica, MATLAB/Simulink, and MS Office products. I have experience designing, fabricating, and materials testing custom metal and composite structures. I also have experience designing, etching, and hand-soldering PCBs.

I volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, creating and leading lesson plans using the PCS Edventures! BrickLab(R) system. I also volunteer at other K-12 STEM outreach activities including the Invent Idaho, FIRST LEGO(R) League, and TEAM-S competitions, and BSU's e- Camp summer program.