STUDENTS OF ESA-FAIR SPACE RADIATION SCHOOL - 2019

Manuel Almeida

My name is Manuel and I’m a PhD student of the MIT-Portugal programme at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon. My MSc and BSc are both in bioengineering from the same university. Even though I have more experience in the field of regenerative medicine, I have a huge passion for astrobiology and so I have made the jump to this field. I’m interested on how cyanobacteria cope with radiation and if they can be made more resistant to said stress through radiation pressure/random mutagenesis. I am also interested in how the usage of different culture formats may alter the overall resistance and characteristics of cyanobacterial populations. My final goal is to translate all of this into potential applications of cyanobacteria in the astrobiology/bioastronautics field, especially on the context of life support and production of chemicals on Mars, and future life detection missions to the Red Planet.

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Photo: Manuel Almeida

Emiliano Bolesani

Emiliano studied Medical Biotechnology at the University of Parma, carrying out the bachelor thesis focused on platelets activation following myocardial infarction. In the master thesis, he contrived a system to purify a human enzyme that metabolizes a key neurotransmitter for drug screening purposes, from bacteria. Since 2013 he is working at the Hannover Medical School in the group of Dr Zweigerdt where he completed his doctoral studies in 2018 in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, as part of the REBIRTH “Cluster of Excellence” International PhD program. He developed an in vitro system to culture human cardiac progenitor cells and subsequent heart progenies. In addition, he also generated an in vitro model of dilated cardiomyopathy and cardiac dystrophy; all of which was done using human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). He wishes to apply his experience in hPSCs-based biotechnology and stem cell biology to contribute to developing spaceflight technologies and safety.

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Photo: Emiliano Bolesani
Naser Burahmah

Naser Burahmah was born in Kuwait. He received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America, in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Naser Burahmah is currently a Ph.D. graduate student in the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee.
His current research interests include in some of the accelerator-based measurement in the area of space radiation transport, underlying physics of medium and high-energy heavy-ion interactions relevant not only to space radiation transport but also an application on Earth such as isotope production. He gained experience in radiation transport model calculations, using PHITS to predict light ion production and actinide production from proton and heavy-ion interaction.

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Photo: Naser Burahmah

Sofia Colombi

After earning my Bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Engineering in 2014, I completed my Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering in 2017 at Politecnico di Milano (Milano, Italy). I worked on my master’s thesis at the radiotherapy center Ebg MedAustron (Wiener Neustadt, Austria), where I performed an experimental study of a silicon telescope detector for microdosimetry in ion-beam therapy. 
I am currently attending my second year as a Ph.D. student in Physics at University of Trento (Italy). My work includes experiments, data analysis as well as theoretical investigations and Monte Carlo simulations in the frame of the FOOT (FragmentatiOn Of Target) experiment. I am a lecturer in the course “Physics I” for engineers held by Prof. Chiara La Tessa at University of Trento (Italy) and I am also associated to the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). My research interests are focused on the physics of radiation-matter interaction and its applications to cancer therapy and radioprotection in space.

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Photo: Lucia Colombi

Micol De Simoni

I graduated in Physics in 2017 and I am currently enrolled in the “La Sapienza” Rome University Accelerator Physics Ph.D. course. My research activity, so far, has been focused on the Experimental Particle Physics and Medical Physics fields. During my Master Thesis work at “La Sapienza” I joined the ARPG-Group and assembled, characterized and tested a new tracker detector developed with the aim of performing the online monitoring of Particle Therapy (PT) treatments. I hence continued my research activity developing the tools needed for the PT quality control task. In the context of 12C ions PT, I implemented the algorithms needed for the treatment planning in a fast Monte Carlo simulation toolkit: FRED (Fast paRticle thErapy Dose evaluator). As for now, I am implementing the algorithms accounting for the beam fragmentation and, more generally, the interactions with matter. Within the ARPG-Group I am also contributing to other projects, i.e. the FOOT (FragmentatiOn Of Target) experiment and the MONDO project.

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Photo: Micol de Simoni

Bahar Djouiai (Auditor)

Education:
11/2018 – present PhD; GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung, Biophysics department
Title of thesis: Effects of heavy ions on microglia and the vascular system in organotypic-hippocampal slice cultures of mouse brain.

04/2016 – 09/2018 M. Sc. Technical Biology; Technical University Darmstadt
Title of thesis: Effects of DNA Repair and Protective Components in Bacillus subtilis Spore Resistance to Blue Light  Radiation.

10/2011 – 09/2015 B. Sc. Pharmaceutical Biotechnology; University of Applied Sciences Biberach Riss
Title of thesis: Characterization of cell polarity regulators in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea.

Work Experience:
01/ 2018 – 02/ 2018 Collaborative researcher; National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS), Chiba, Japan
04/ 2017 – 09/ 2017 Student research internship and Master thesis at German Aerospace Center (DLR) Cologne, Germany

Publications:
Djouiai B, Thwaite JE, Laws TR, Commichau FM, Setlow B, Setlow P, Moeller R. 2018. Role of DNA Repair and Protective Components in Bacillus subtilis Spore Resistance to Inactivation by 400 nm Blue Light. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. doi:10.1128/AEM.01604-18.

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Photo: Bahar Djouiai

Lígia Fonseca Coelho

Lígia Fonseca Coelho is a PhD student of the MIT-Portugal program and her thesis topic is in Astrobiology. She holds a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Microbiology from the University of Lisbon (Portugal). During undergraduate studies, Lígia won a European entrepreneurship award for the creation of a diagnosis kit for UTI. She has past research experiences in plant modification, microalgae culturing, drug design and anticancer phototherapy. Recently she has performed field work in the Arctic within the framework of her PhD thesis. Currently, Lígia is studying the polar biomes as a proxy for extra-terrestrial life in the icy moons. She is also the co-leader of a project which will be incorporated in the New Shepard launch. The objective of this project is to study how microgravity affects photosynthesis.

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Photo: Lígia Fonseca Coelho

Martha Habibi

My name is Habibi Martha and I was born in Athens, Greece in 1989. I have studied at the National Technical University of Athens at the department of physics for my postgraduate studies and after at University of MSc Programme in Medical Physics – Radiophysics. During my master studies I have been introduced and trained on a variety of subjects including dosimetry, estimation of doses, biodosimetry, radiation biology, radiobiological modeling and statistics. I have over 6 years of experience in the provision of laboratory services and in the field of research with scientific collaborations. Research on biological methods regarding the effect of low ionizing radiation doses on molecular and cytogenetic level as well as physical dosimetry, associated with statistical tools, software, advanced techniques are the fields of study that attract my interest and for that I have been appointed a grant for my doctoral research. 

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Photo: Martha Habibi

Timna Hitrec

Timna Hitrec, born in Rijeka (Croatia) in 1990, is currently working as a Research Fellow at the Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, Bologna University (Italy). She graduated in Health Biology in 2014, and got a PhD in Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences in 2018, with a thesis dissertation in “Neurophysiological and metabolic regulation of spontaneous and synthetic torpor: a translational perspective”. Her research topics involve the neurophysiological and autonomic aspects of thermoregulation and torpor, and the application of therapeutic hypothermia in clinical practice and human space exploration.

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Photo: Timna Hitrec

Lucas Rudolf Holl

Since 01/2019: PhD student & research assistant, Heidelberg University
• Search for WIMPs (Dark Matter) in paleodetectors
• Visualization and identification of radiation defects in salt minerals
10/2016 – 12/2018: MSc. Earth Sciences, Insitute of Earth Sciences Heidelberg University
09/2013 – 07/2016: BSc. Earth Sciences, Institute of Earth Sciences Heidelberg University

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Photo: Lucas Rudolf Holl

Francesca Itta

I'm Francesca Itta an applied physicist in love with Medical Physics (MP). My greatest career ambition is to become a medical physicist employed in an inspiring and innovative job environment so that I can use physics concepts to improve oncological patients life quality. I'm actually a medical physics resident of the Italian MP school at the University of Naples Federico II. I'm in training at the Radiotherapy and MP department of the A.O.U Policlinico Federico II hospital .My duties in the radiotherapy clinical routine are in the areas of treatment planning , quality assurance, dosimetry , radiation safety and research activity. I've been involved in MP field since my bachelor's degrees thesis work that was on genetic algorithms applied to medical image analysis .My master degree thesis , received at the University of Bologna , was about MP too. It was be taken at the Radiotherapy and MP department of the A.O.U Policlinico di Modena hospital within an Italian Ministry of Health research project on Dose warping methods for IGRT and Adaptive RT.

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Photo: Francesca Itta

Francesca Luoni (Auditor)

Francesca Luoni got her bachelor degree in Engineering Physics at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) in 2015 after an experimental thesis project whose topic was positron annihilation spectroscopy in Aerogel, at L-NESS Laboratory in Como (Italy). In 2018 she completed her Master Degree in Nuclear Engineering in Politecnico di Milano after a one year Master Thesis project about the behavior of active matter (Janus Particles) in complex plasmas, at DLR (German Aerospace Center) in Munich (Germany). Currently she is doing her PhD research project within a GSI - Technische Universitaet Darmstadt collaboration, working for the Rossini3 project, a GSI-ESA-UniTo_Thales Alenia Space collaboration, on testing innovative shielding materials for astronauts and electronic devices during long-term space missions, both concerning in situ and during the flight passive shielding. Meanwhile she is also updating the 2011 NASA nuclear fragmentation cross section database with the aim of making it open-source.

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Batmunkh Munkhbaatar

My name is Batmunkh Munkhbaatar. I received the B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in physics from the National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Since August 2011, I am working as a research associate (Ph.D. candidate) at the Laboratory of Radiation Biology of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russia. My research interests and activities include the biophysics of heavy charged particles and the computer simulation of radiation-induced effects on the central nervous system. Over the last 5 years, I together with my co-authors have published about 11 scientific papers in international journals.

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Photo: Batmunkh Munkhbaatar

Cristina Oancea

Reasearcher at ADVACAM, Prague, Czech Republic (December 2018-present)
Particle tracking, dosimetry and LET measurements
I am working in two applied projects for the European Space Agency devoted to the development of miniaturized high-sensitivity radiation monitors and particle tracker payloads for satellites in LEO and GEO orbit.
Dosimetry of pulsed and stray fields within an EU funded H21 Metrology project EMPIRE
Research assistant at IFIN-HH, Magurele, Romania (2015-present)
Researcher at the JINR-Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russia (2013-2019)
Medical radiation physics and radiation dosimetry, particle tracking for proton and carbon ion therapy. Investigation of the proton-based CT as a potential solution for range uncertainties and dose inacuracies for patients with metallic implants.
PhD studies (2014-2018) at the University of Bucharest, Romania, JINR and the Nuclear Physics Institute, Prague, where I studied the effect of metallic implants in proton and carbon-ion therapy.

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Photo: Cristina Oancea

Claudia Pacelli

I’m biologist with main interests in astrobiology, limits of life on Earth, including resistance to radiation, and the search for life beyond Earth. My main researches focus on extremophiles and extreme environments on Earth, as well as on radioresistance, radioprotection and melanin pigment-based radioprotectors. During my PhD, I became interested in research on radiation, and for this reason I spent 9 months in New York investigating the interaction of melanized fungi with acute and chronic ionizing radiation, with the purpose of developing efficient melanin pigment based radioprotectors. I’m also part of the European STARLIFE consortium which has the purpose to investigate the effect of space-relevant radiation on microorganisms and biomolecules. I recently got a position as researcher at the Italian Space Agency, where I will focus my researches on space radiation and on the development of efficient radioprotectors for long-term human space exploration. 

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Photo: Claudia Pacelli

Eloise Pariset

I am a multidisciplinary scientist with experience in exosome research and associated sample preparation techniques, including microfluidic-based technologies. Since November 2018, I have been working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Radiation Biophysics Laboratory of Dr. S.V. Costes at NASA Ames Research Center. Our laboratory is supported by the NASA Human Research Program to identify genetic associations with sensitivity to simulated space radiation. My main professional goal is to investigate the potential of exosomes as circulating biomarkers of responses to deep space radiation, and understand their role in radiation non-targeted effects, to better diagnose and mitigate the risks of radiation exposure. My postdoctoral project has recently been awarded by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) to further study radiation-related components of exosomes from human primary immune cells as a tool for biodosimetry and countermeasure.

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Photo: Eloise Pariset

Eline Radstake

Eline Radstake - In August 2018 I graduated from the research master in Neuroscience from the Donders Institute in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I completed my master thesis at the ESA BRAIN-DTI group under supervision of prof. Floris Wuyts and dr. Angelique van Ombergen. This group investigates brain changes in astronauts by comparing pre- and post-flight MRI data. During my internship I assisted during scan sessions with ESA astronauts. For my thesis, I investigated brain changes in F16 fighter jet pilots measured with MRI. From the results of this study I am currently preparing a manuscript. In February this year I started working as a doctorate student at the Radiobiology Unit of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK•CEN under supervision of prof. Sarah Baatout, dr. Marjan Moreels, and dr. Mieke Verslegers. For my research we use in vitro and in vivo methods to investigate the effects of simulated space flight stressors on the brain and the skin. 

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Photo: Eline Radstake

Timo Smit (Auditor)

Since 2019: PhD student at GSI and TU Darmstadt, Germany. Research interest: Impact of radiation (carbon and iron ions) on stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. 

2016-2018: M.Sc. degree in Technical Biology, grade: 1.19 at TU Darmstadt. Work field: Reactive oxygen species and calcium signals as effects of ionizing radiation on T cells. 

2012-2016: B.Sc. degree in Life Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany.

Activities: Member of “HGS-HIRe” Graduate School. Participant at International Biophysics Collaboration (GSI/FAIR) Meeting 2019 and GBS (Society for Biological Radiation Research e.V.) Meeting 2018.

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Photo: Timo Smit