Alia Al Mansoori, a young Emirati who aspires to become an astronaut, has been appointed Scientific Research Fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi.
Alia, 16, will work on developing laboratory skills, carrying out tissue cultures, RNA and protein extractions and cell staining methods – something she touched on in her proposed experiment that won her the UAE Genes in Space award.
The fellowship, under the guidance of NYUAD research assistant professor Mohamed Al Sayegh, will culminate in a research proposal, aimed at creating a scientific publication.
The two-year, unpaid, part-time position offers her the opportunity intended to gain experience in the lab and conduct research under the supervision and guidance of an NYUAD faculty member.
She is the youngest person to join the NYUAD research community.
“It’s exciting to be working with Alia, who is proving to be a rising star in the field of the sciences in general,” Dr Al Sayegh said. “Our shared interest will focus largely within the field of biology, specifically in genetics, encompassing my research interest in cell differentiation and her interest in heat-shock responses at a molecular level.”
Alia said she hoped that by joining NYUAD as a scientific fellow, she would be able to inspire young Emiratis to take up research and science.
“We are delighted to welcome Alia Al Mansoori to our research community, and look forward to fostering her insatiable hunger for knowledge and deep curiosity while helping her make ever greater contributions in the sciences, and space science in particular,” said NYUAD provost Fabio Piano.
Alia won the UAE Genes in Space contest in February 2017 for her experiment that examined how genes could change in an artificial atmosphere in space.
The experiment, performed by Nasa astronaut Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station that year, successfully detected stress-induced gene expression using a fast and simple technique.
The research could lead to the discovery of methods for monitoring cellular stress in astronauts and assessing the effects of long-term space travel at the molecular level.
Alia is also the founder of Emirati Astronaut, a platform to encourage dialogue between aspiring astronauts and veterans of space flight.