An experiment from Stockton University that deals with broken DNA strands, and whether they can be repaired by cells while in space, will travel to the International Space Station this summer.

Stockton Assistant Biology Professor Michael Law said astronauts and space travelers will not have the protection of earth's atmosphere, and "the students were curious to know if the DNA damage is still getting fixed as faithfully as it does on Earth."

"I have three students that are currently working on this project. Basically, we on Earth are protected from many types of radiation, due to our ozone layer. It acts as a nice buffer that prevents things like cosmic rays and gamma rays from getting into our atmosphere," Law said. "We all know that if you go to the beach without sunscreen, you can develop cancer due to UV DNA damage. In space, the UV DNA damage situation is even more intense."

Students Daniel Stoyko of Egg Harbor, Matthew Elko of Edison and Joseph Romanowski of Freehold are working with with Law on the project.

Law said putting the experiment together and getting it ready for NASA was a process he characterizes as, "complicated" but rewarding.

"It is exciting to see, and hopefully, the students are getting a positive learning experience out of the entire thing," he said. "We are still not exactly sure when the launch will be. But students are working every day on trying to get this thing to work here on earth, so that we know, when we send it up to the international space station, we will get some meaningful data back."

He says it engaged his students to work at a professional level.

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