One of the risks associated with space flight is exposure to cosmic radiation. Humans who travel beyond the earth’s magnetosphere are not shielded from this radiation which can induce genetic changes (mutations) in all exposed cells. These genetic changes can lead to cancer. In this project, students will examine DNA that has been taken from organisms exposed to radiation to determine the number and type of mutations that have been induced. This will provide information about the likelihood that cosmic radiation can induce cancer in astronauts. 

Prerequisite Study 

  • Biology 

Areas of Student Interest

  • Students interested in understanding:
  • How scientific research is used to understand human diseases
  • Cancer research
  • Hands on lab experiments manipulating DNA
  • How bacteria are used to understand human diseases
  • Genetic mutations and how that causes diseases
  • Students who are interested in the medical field


Lead Academic: Associate Professor Louise Lutz-Mann, Deputy Head of School of Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences

Louise Lutz-Mann

Louise coordinates Science courses on Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology and also coordinates Molecular Biology teaching in Medicine. She is School representative on the Faculty of Science Standing and Education Committees, and the Faculty of Medicine Education Committee. Louise teaches across a range of courses from large (1000 students) to small senior courses (30 students) and to students in both the basic sciences and in professional degrees, in three different faculties. She has been the recipient of nine teaching awards, including a National Teaching Excellence Award in 2014, and she conducts research on the use of blended learning and online resources in teaching. During her tenure at UNSW, she was invited to participate in the development of academic programs for a new university in the California State System.


Nirmani Wijenayak

Dr Nirmani Wijenayake Gamachchige

Nirmani is an education focused academic with a special research interest in using existing medications for the treatment of brain cancers.