Landon Minor ’20 organizes Genes in Space workshop

Capstone project fosters hands-on biotech research at HPA and also Hawai‘i Island schools

HPA's Landon Minor '20 works with Dr. Sebastian Kraves (right), founder of Genes in Space.

A boarding student from Washington state, Landon Minor ’20 came to HPA as a junior, following in the footsteps of his brother, Logan ’17. In fact, what convinced Minor to transfer was attending HPA’s graduation ceremony. Seeing the importance of the traditions, he fell in love with the school’s culture and knew it was something he wanted to be part of. When it came time to choose a capstone project for senior year, Minor opted for the biotechnology capstone class, as he intends to study biology or biomedical engineering in college. For his personal capstone project, Minor organized a Genes in Space biotech workshop for middle and high school science educators on Hawai‘i Island.

Tell us more about the biotech workshop!
The event focused on implementing DNA-based research in the classroom, using a technology called miniPCR, a DNA discovery system. Ultimately, the goal was to train teachers so that they have the ability to implement more DNA based research in their own classrooms. In addition, these teachers will now be able to prepare their students to submit a proposal for a DNA-based experiment to be conducted on the International Space Station via the Genes in Space contest.

How did you get connected with Genes in Space?
Dr. Anton, my biotech capstone teacher, has worked with this program previously, and it seemed so perfect for my interests in biology and space science. Genes in Space is a non-profit and the creator of the miniPCR. Through their contest, high school students can submit research proposals to test hypotheses about the effects of zero gravity on genetic material.

My past science classes, especially the lab work aspect, were really important in being prepared to take this course, but this capstone has given me a range of experiences, not just in science.”

—Landon Minor ’20

What did you have to do to set up the workshop?
A lot of the work was coordination and marketing. I worked with HPA’s auxiliary programs director to make sure we could host the workshop leaders and have the appropriate lab space and such for the workshop. I also met with our marketing department to create a flier and then reached out to Big Island schools. Recruiting teachers for the workshop was so important, as the workshop provides them with the opportunity to expand what they can teach their students.

What’s next? How will you follow up from the workshop?
After the workshop, I’m going to to design my own experiment proposal to enter the Genes in Space contest myself. Participating in the workshop will give me a sense of the scope of what’s possible to undertake in these experiments, as there’s a big range of what can be done. For example, a past winner proposed an experiment to study the effects of microgravity on the nervous system, a really fascinating combination of medical science and space science, things I’ve always been interested in.

How did your past academic experiences at HPA prepare you for your capstone?
My past science classes, especially the lab work aspect, were really important in being prepared to take this course, but this capstone has given me a range of experiences, not just in science. For example, my English classes gave me the communication skills I needed to write an effective marketing piece. In a lot of ways, I feel like these classes helped prepare me professionally.

Landon Minor '20 works with HPA faculty member Dr. Johanna Anton during the Genes in Space Workshop

Students taking the September 19 ACT

Check-in will begin at 7:30 am at Rutgers Tennis Center. Students must have been on the Big Island for at least 15 consecutive days prior to testing or they will not be admitted, per the governor's mandate. Any student from an off-island school must bring a copy of their airline ticket showing their date of arrival on the Big Island — no exceptions.

Students will be required to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire and have a touchless temperature taken upon arrival. Anyone with a temperature over 99.9 degrees will not be admitted. All examinees must have a mask, photo ID, and No. 2 pencils. Please do not forget an approved calculator. It is recommended that students bring a water bottle and snack. No water fountains are available on campus.