I can barely believe it- it’s already been five fantastic years for astrobotany.com. The site was founded on February 19, 2017 in a dormitory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With the help of many colleagues, the site has accomplished more than I could have ever imagined. Since its inception, astrobotany.com has been visited by just under 40,000 unique visitors, with over 130,000 page views. Our reach has been astounding as well: astrobotany.com has been visited by people in over 150 different countries.
Over the years, astrobotany.com has become a premier resource in the field of spaceflight plant biology and has one of the most comprehensive astrobotany literature compilations on the internet (courtesy of Sam Humphrey). We’ve hosted databases, made a podcast, had a show, made t-shirts and stickers, collaborated with other websites, and through it all have remained committed to our mission of providing free, accessible scientific information about astrobotany.
Progress in 2021
In 2021, we put an emphasis on upgrading the site. Our friends at Rapid Rollout LLC helped us design the sleek new layout for astrobotany.com. If you take a look below you can see the evolution of the site over the years:
Original Site Design (early 2017)
Solar System Site Design (2017-2021)
Site Design by Rapid Rollout (2021-Present)
Our other large project in 2021 was assisting our colleagues Gil Cauthorn, Dr. Christina Johnson, and Dr. Richard Barker with their formation of AIRI (Astrobotany International Research Initiative), an open source research platform that aims to support ongoing astrobotany research using an interactive application hosted right here on astrobotany.com. We look forward to continuing working with the AIRI team this upcoming year.
We have several projects in the works for 2022-2023. Firstly, our team is working on a project for developing a journal for astrobotany-related micropublications. We hope that it’ll give students and citizen scientists the opportunity to publish their work in a scientific journal, and give researchers a platform to publish their small-scale preliminary experiments and their inconclusive or null results. This journal will take awhile to get up and running, so to all the students and citizen scientists out there—make sure you take lots of detailed notes and good data! Maybe someday you’ll want to publish it as a micropublication.
Secondly, we will continue to support the progress made on the AIRI project as mentioned above. Our team is excited to develop more robust tools for AIRI collaborators and educators to get involved in astrobotany research.
Thirdly, we have two other exciting projects we will be working on. These projects are dynamic and may change due to material resources or time constraints, so we’re keeping them on the DL for now. We’ll just say we are very much looking forward to sharing them with you.
And finally, this year we’re excited to attend scientific conferences to tell people about Astrobotany.com. You will see our writers, Sam and Gil, at the ASHS, ASGSR, NCERA-101 conferences, and maybe others too. Keep an eye out for us if you’re attending any of these conferences, and feel free to reach out on the ‘contact us’ page if you’d like to meet up!
Last year Sam led a Growing Beyond Earth team that won the GBE Maker Contest, and spoke at a NASA Lunch & Learn session. Sam also helped write White Papers for the Decadal Survey, he joined BMSIS as a Visiting Scholar, and he concluded his intumescence experiments in the Gómez Lab. This winter Sam graduated from UF and moved on to NC State University, where he is studying indoor-grown strawberries.
Gil started his first year as a PhD student at the University of North Dakota’s Space Studies department. His research has focused on plant systems integration into bioregenerative life support systems in long term space habitats. He was awarded a NASA research fellowship through the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium, and has been utilizing the research generated to develop AIRI (Astrobotany International Research Initiative). In this past year, Gil served as the Magnitude.io’s Mission Science Specialist during the Exolab-8 and Exolab-9 experiment missions aboard the International Space Station. The most exciting news of the past year for Gil and his family is that they found out that they will be welcoming their third baby in July of 2022!
Kai did the same thing he does every year: played Minecraft and watched Family Guy.. He also got his first pet- a cat he named Hawg – who is now the official pet of astrobotany.com
Thank you all so much for a lovely year!
Kai, Gil, and Sam