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Assistant Professor, Alumnus Help BPS Students Win Award

Assistant Professor, Alumnus Help BPS Students Win Award

Posted: April 10, 2019

A group of Buffalo Public School (BPS) students is heading to Florida after winning a competition with the help and mentorship of a Buffalo State alumnus and an assistant professor of biology.

The students, from Public School 198 International Preparatory, were awarded the chance to have their experiment travel to the International Space Station through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP).

The winning experiment involves “studying the effects of microgravity on the germination efficiency of dormant Bacillus subtilis spores,” said Derek Beahm, assistant professor in the Biology Department.

“Basically, the students are going to expose the spores to microgravity for a few weeks and then combine them with a growth medium to initiate germination for a few days followed by stopping all growth by adding a fixative. The same steps will be performed on samples remaining here on Earth. Students will be counting the number of spores left and the number of vegetative bacteria to compare the Earth-bound samples to those exposed to microgravity in the space station.”

Beahm worked with the students on their experiment and brought them to Buffalo State to work in the biology lab in the Science and Mathematics Complex.

“They’re smart, inquisitive, and committed to the cause,” Beahm said, regarding the students.

Buffalo State alumnus Andrew Franz teaches the students at PS 198. He’s won the award before with previous classes and said it provides a great opportunity for underserved students in the city.

"We use the resources that are available to us well,” he said.

Franz is raising money for the trip to see the launch at Kennedy Space Center through a Go Fund Me page. The money raised will also be used to take the students to the SSEP conference in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2020, where the students will present their research.

If the school fell in a suburban district, Franz said, the students' parents would likely pick up the financial burden of the trips. That’s not feasible in the city.

“I want this for my kids,” he said, referring to his students. “I want this for BPS.”

Buffalo News story: "Space flight taking off in Buffalo schools"

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