The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced five awarded projects from a joint solicitation for research in the general field of transport phenomena. The solicitation sought investigators interested in leveraging resources onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory for research in the areas of fluid dynamics, particulate and multiphase processes, thermal transport, nanoscale interactions, and combustion and fire systems. The NSF Directorate for Engineering invested $2 million in awards to the selected projects, and CASIS, manager of the ISS National Lab, will facilitate hardware implementation, in-orbit access, and astronaut crew time to support the investigations on the orbiting laboratory.

Previously, CASIS and NSF have partnered on three separate fluid dynamics/multiphase processes solicitations and an additional funding opportunity focused on combustion and thermal transport. Many of the projects awarded through these previous solicitations have already launched to the ISS. Fundamental science is a major line of business for the ISS National Lab, and by conducting research in the persistent microgravity environment offered by the orbiting laboratory, NSF and the ISS National Lab will drive new advances that will bring value to our nation and spur future inquiries in low Earth orbit. Additionally, yesterday CASIS and NSF announced awarding three projects focused on tissue engineering in space to further fundamental science for the benefit of the biomedical and regenerative medicine research communities.

The purpose of this current transport phenomena solicitation was to attract proposals that make use of the ISS National Lab for research projects in the fields related to the NSF programs concerning transport phenomena and nanoscale interactions and that could lead to benefits for life on Earth. The unique microgravity environment on the ISS National Lab provides several advantages to transport phenomena research, as many processes that affect the behavior of substances on Earth—such as convection, sedimentation, hydrostatic pressure, and buoyancy—are absent in microgravity.

Below are the selected projects from this solicitation:

ISS: Collaborative Research: Bimodal Colloidal Assembly, Coarsening and Failure: Decoupling Sedimentation and Particle Size Effects
University of California-Irvine and Northeastern University
Principal Investigators (PI): Ali Mohraz and Safa Jamali

ISS: Dynamic Manipulation of Multi-phase Flow Using Light-responsive Surfactants for Phase-change Applications
University of California-Santa Barbara
PI: Yangying Zhu 
Co-PIs: Javier Read de Alaniz and Paolo Luzzatto-Fegiz

ISS: Gravitational Effects on the Faraday Instability
University of Florida
PI: Ranga Narayanan

ISS: A New Paradigm for Explaining Catastrophic Post-Wildfire Mudflows
University of California-San Diego
PI: Ingrid Tomac

ISS: Synthesis of Electrically Conductive High-temperature Composites Under Microgravity and Normal Gravity Conditions
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
PI: Kathy Lu

“The partnership between NSF and the ISS National Lab has enabled researchers and students to access a low-gravity environment where, with astronauts’ help, they can conduct experiments. This collaboration is helping us better understand the physics of fluid flow, heat transfer, and combustion processes and improve life on Earth,” said NSF Assistant Director of Engineering Dawn Tilbury. “Our new awards will help design materials and processes used in food, energy, pollution control, nanotechnology, and health care. They will also provide a unique opportunity to better understand naturally occurring events such as mudslides after catastrophic wildfires.”

All grants and subsequent flight opportunities are contingent on final contract agreements between the award recipients, the ISS National Lab, and NSF.

“Through this continued collaboration with NSF to further fundamental physical and material sciences on the ISS, we see a valued partner interested in pushing the limits of science and innovation for the benefit of the scientific community,” said CASIS Chief Operating Officer Ken Shields. “With these newly selected investigations, we hope that the unique environment of the space station will continue to enable research that brings value to our nation and helps to inform future concepts for research and development on our industrial incubator in low Earth orbit.”

To learn more about the capabilities of the ISS National Lab, including past research initiatives and available facilities, visit

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About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: 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. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space is the nonprofit responsible for management of the ISS National Lab.