Building a Bridge to NASA for Tribal College Students

PI: Dr. Beverly Atwell, Department of Math, Science and Computers, Blackfeet Community College

NASA has begun looking toward adapting food crops such as corn and wheat for use in its manned exploration efforts. NASA has been particularly interested in developing plant varieties for use on the space station and with its manned mission to Mars. Faculty at Blackfeet College believed that NASA's plant research should be expanded to include non-domesticated varieties that American Indians had been using for centuries. NASA personnel were approached with the idea of including traditional plants in its studies. The NASA researchers did not have any reliable data on those types of plants. Much of the traditional information was already available at the College, but it was not in a coherent form. The information was piecemeal, and lacked empirical analyses.

The purpose of this project is to strengthen the biology and computer programs at the college to better prepare students in two of the sciences used by NASA programs. The students and faculty will benefit from the program enhancement that will give them the knowledge and skills they need to compile and disseminate information about the types and uses of traditional food and medicinal plants that may be adaptable for use in space exploration.

Contact Information

Mail: Dr. Beverly Atwell
Hwy 2@ 89; Box 819
Blackfeet Community College
Browning, MT 59417
Phone: (406) 338-5411, Ext. 247
FAX: (406) 338-3272

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Updated June 19, 2006