Press Release

NASA Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Emmy-Nominated Science TV Host Emily Calandrelli to Headline STEM Session at ISSRDC

By SpaceRef Editor
July 31, 2021
Filed under , ,

The final day of the 10th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) will include a session focused on inspiring the next generation of researchers and explorers. The session, “Making Space for All in STEM,” will provide unique insight into the many ways in which the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory is being leveraged as an incredible platform to facilitate student scientific inquiry and experimentation. ISS National Lab education programs also introduce young researchers to career pathways within the burgeoning space community. ISSRDC, which will be held virtually August 3-5, is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, NASA, and the American Astronautical Society.

This session will be moderated by Emily Calandrelli, Emmy-nominated science TV host, author, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) advocate. In 2016, Calandrelli’s educational book “Ada Lace, Take Me to Your Leader (Part 1)” was launched to the space station and read onboard the orbiting platform by NASA astronaut Anne McClain as part of the Story Time From Space education program. Calandrelli also hosted a similar STEM session at ISSRDC 2018 to raise awareness about student engagement on the ISS.

Joining Calandrelli in this session will be NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, M.D., who served as a flight engineer on the ISS during Expeditions 56 and 57, logging 197 days in space. While on the space station, Dr. Auñón-Chancellor supported numerous experiments, from research on potential new cancer treatments to technology development demonstrations and physical and Earth sciences investigations. Since her stay on the ISS, Dr. Auñón-Chancellor’s appreciation and support for the ISS has only continued to grow. She has become a vocal proponent of using the unique microgravity environment to advance science and technology in ways not possible on Earth. She also participated in a session at ISSRDC 2019 on the future of regenerative medicine in space.

This session will also feature three additional panelists, including:

  • Rihana Mungin, Mechanical Engineering and SEM Coach at Energy 350, who also supported a recent collaboration with Nickelodeon, which launched its iconic slime to the space station through the ISS National Lab for various STEM demonstrations.
  • Gitanjali Rao, TIME’s 2020 Kid of the Year and Top Young Innovator, who previously participated in the Genes in Space student competition, which challenges young researchers to propose pioneering DNA experiments to be performed on the ISS.
  • Sayaka Umemura, Associate Senior Engineer of the Kibo Utilization Center, Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

ISSRDC2021 is free to attend, although registration is required. To learn more about ISSRDC, view the latest agenda and speakers, and register, please visit

# # #

About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under cooperative agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.