From Savannah to NASA

Savannah State students Shakema Bowman and Daniel Meis assist Professor Karla-Sue Marriott, Ph.D., on research that NASA sent to the International Space Station.


From Savannah to NASA

Break through. Boundaries. Limitations. Health and sickness. Life and death. Even space. It all begins in a lab at Savannah State University.

Dr. Karla-Sue Marriott is a chemist and the director of Savannah State’s Forensic Science program. Under her guidance, it’s grown from a minor to a very major major—with mock crime scenes for learning labs, fingerprint identification tech, and a whole lot of chances for hands-on experience.

A chemist at heart, Dr. Marriott has never met an opportunity she didn’t want to seize. So when she heard that NASA was looking for a talented team of chemists to fuel its next generation of space exploration and experimentation, she—and her students—went for it.

Juniors Shakema Bowman and Daniel Meis joined her in pursuit of the NASA grant and a chance to send research to the International Space Station.

International Space Station (photo: NASA)

From Albany, Georgia, Shakema Bowman has always loved science, but discovered her passion for chemistry in Dr. Marriott’s class. Since then, she’s logged more lab hours than she can count. Her lab partner, Daniel Meis, has earned scholarships from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). He’s also worked with Gulfstream Aerospace's Research and Development Center.

Only Savannah and four other institutions made NASA’s cut for University Research-1. Their mission: to study the effects of radiation on immune systems of astronauts after long-term space travel, when immune systems are most stressed and weakened.

Shakema, Daniel, and Dr. Marriott spent months in the lab synthesizing compounds that might unlock new treatments for autoimmune diseases. They designed two molecules—one to boost the immune system and one that could prevent cancer.

In 2014, their research headed into space via the Space X-3 Rocket. Look up. Experiments are taking place right now. The data collected has the potential to be a cancer treatment game changer. And Savannah State University is leading the way. Seriously Impressive.

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