Subscribe to receive SETI Institute news weekly in your inbox.

SETI Institute to Host International Space Station Sustainability Event

SETI Institute to Host International Space Station Sustainability Event

International Space Station credit: NASA

Mountain View, CA -- On January 29, 2020, the SETI Institute will host representatives from the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory and the Secure World Foundation to explore how research conducted on the space station provides benefits for sustainability here on Earth. The session will highlight important work sponsored by the ISS National Lab that supports global efforts such as the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals.

Featured speakers will discuss the unique research and development being done on the ISS, the observed or expected benefits to life on Earth and the importance of maintaining a space-based platform to support this work.

Krystal Wilson, Director of Space Application Programs of the Secure World Foundation, will moderate the meeting and featured speakers will be:

  • John Cumbers, Founder, SynBioBeta
  • Fatma Kaplan, CEO, Pheronym, Inc.

Visit the event page for additional information and to register. Virtual attendance will also be available.

“The mission of the ISS National Lab is to enable science in space to benefit life on Earth,” said ISS National Lab Commercial Innovation Program Manager Miki Sode, Ph.D. “We are exploring ways to leverage the unique environment of space, in particular on the ISS, for innovative research and development to address societal and environmental issues in ways not possible on Earth, complementing the efforts by commercial entities, philanthropic organizations, and private citizens.”

One example of the ISS National Lab's work is the study of insect-killing worms in space. Working with a biotechnology startup, Pheronuym, and the USDA, the study examines how microgravity affects tiny worms with bacteria in their gut that kill crop-harming insects. The worms exposed to Pheronym's pheromone extract were more effective in controlling pecan weevils and black soldier flies than non-exposed worms. Further, the treatment is environmentally safe on Earth, but the worms may also aid future crops grown in space.

Work such as this highlights the importance of ISS National Lab research for both planetary exploration and sustainability here on Earth.

"At Secure World Foundation, our mission is focused on looking for ways to promote space sustainability and the peaceful uses of outer space. In order to do this, we think it's important to highlight and communicate the many ways that space assets and space data can be used to improve life on Earth,” said Secure World Foundation Director of Space Application Programs Krystal Wilson, who is serving as the moderator for the panel discussion at this event. “This event is an exciting showcase of how the International Space Station can be used in new and innovative ways for just that. We also look forward to continuing the conversation later in the year in Washington, D.C., where we will focus more on policy and other considerations.”

“We are delighted to be partnering with the ISS National Lab and the Secure World Foundation in hosting this critically important discussion.  The ISS is a unique research platform that is of incalculable value to all of humankind,” said Bill Diamond, CEO of the SETI Institute.  "More than just a one-of-a-kind observational platform that can inform such key issues as climate change and natural disasters, it is a complex and resource-rich laboratory capable of unique research experiments and new discoveries of benefit to all of us here on Earth.”

In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Lab manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space.

For more information on the ISS National Lab, visit

Secure World Foundation is a private operating foundation that promotes cooperative solutions for space sustainability and the peaceful uses of outer space. The Foundation acts as a research body, convener and facilitator to promote key space security and other space related topics and to examine their influence on governance and international development.

For more information on the Secure World Foundation, visit


About the SETI Institute

Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the Universe and to share that knowledge with the world. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.

Contact information

Rebecca McDonald
Director of Communications
SETI Institute
189 Bernardo Ave, Suite 200
Mountain View, CA 94043
Tel: 650-960-4526

Recent Articles