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Vija Wilkinson Facilitates ISS Mushroom Experiment

Posted: May 16, 2016

Research Support Technologist Vija Wilkinson aids Int'l Space Station Mission 8.

Last spring a group of fifth-grade girls at Notre Dame de Sion School in Kansas City, Missouri, proposed a winning experiment titled "The shape and growth of small mushrooms in space" for the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Competition. Their teacher Christian Eikermann obtained recommendations from mushroom professionals and hobbyists in the Kansas City area and subsequently sought assistance from Penn State's Mushroom Spawn Laboratory.

Research Support Technologist Vija Wilkinson provided the needed support to develop an International Space Station (ISS) mini-lab operation to explore the effects of microgravity on mushrooms, and the materials will be shipped next week to NanoRacks to be included in the currently scheduled June 27, 2016, Mission 8 launch.

"Ms. Wilkinson was superbly knowledgeable not only of the fungi but also the methods necessary to successfully propagate and cultivate them.  Most importantly and most unlike all of our previous attempts to gain information or materials, Vija took the time to listen and demonstrated sincere interest in our project and volunteered to help us in any way she could...Ms. Wilkinson and the Pennsylvania State Mushroom Spawn Lab have been absolutely integral to our ongoing participation and ultimately our success in the SSEP program..." - Christian Eikermann

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Vija holding the NanoRacks experiment (small flexible tubes with two clamps for closure) she created to contain the substrate to grow mushrooms in space.