Below is a detailed description of the annual Spin Your Thesis! Human Edition programme. A formal call for proposals is to be posted on this website in November 2017.
A. Project definition and writing of proposal
During the first phase, applicants should form their team, find an endorsing professor or academic supervisor and start thinking about their experimental project and the core question (hypothesis) they wish to test.
Having defining their project question (hypothesis), the student team must think about how to test this – essentially how their experiment will be realised. At the end of this process students will be expected to have gained knowledge of the scientific theory behind their project, as well as the way they would like to investigate their project question.
The experiment proposal should clearly define the scientific and/or medical question (hypothesis) of the project, why it is important, and the experimental details (protocol/equipment) required to address it. In other words, teams must state what they intend to investigate, why it matters, and how they plan to conduct their experiment. Boundary conditions for centrifuge and medical protocols are detailed in the call for proposals and documents section on a yearly basis as these may change over time.
Teams should show in the proposal that they have good knowledge of their project topic: citing key references from the related scientific literature.
Documents expected: experiment proposal
B. Project selection process
The submitted proposals will be evaluated for eligibility (see section 2 “conditions to apply”) by ESA within 2 weeks of the deadline. Eligible proposals will then be evaluated by DLR and ESA experts for scientific (or medical) relevance, feasibility, novelty and educational benefit. Up to four student projects will be selected and will be informed by email.
C. Experiment preparation
Following selection, the successful teams will be invited for a teleconference to discuss the proposal with DLR & ESA.
Following this, and approximately a month from selection the student teams will be invited for 2-day workshop at the DLR/Köln to:
- be introduced to ESA European Astronaut Centre and DLR’s activities;
- be introduced to (micro-)gravity human life sciences;
- perform integration and safety tests of the planned experiment, and of their own
- measurement devices if appropriate;
- inform the student about all relevant DLR health and safety rules;
- define the responsibility of each team member for the upcoming study;
- define a minute-by-minute protocol to be followed.
- DLR will provide a synopsis template for the experimental protocol
Limited funding from ESA can be requested to support the study team to facilitate attendance at the workshop and campaign.
Documents expected: Agreed student team experimental protocol defined in the synopsis document
Deadline: 2 weeks after the 2-day preparation workshop.
D. Short Arm Human Centrifuge campaign
ESA’s Spin Your Thesis! Human Edition campaign takes place at the :envihabfacility in Cologne, Germany. The study will take place approximately 6 months after the project selection and will comprise a total of 7 working days (9 days in Cologne). The typical timeline is:
- 1st day (starting on a Thursday): study preparation, technical and coordination tests;
- 2nd day (Friday): dry run including actual protocol and acquisition of intended measurements;
- 3rd to 7th day (Monday to Friday): centrifuge runs on 10 subjects (2 per day).
The study will be performed on 10 (non-study team) volunteers (5 males; 5 females) and the duration of each session must not exceed 3 hours per subject: including subject preparation with the actual spin time per subject limited to 60 mins.
Two weeks after the campaign, the teams must return a feedback report in which they give their opinion of the programme and campaign to ESA’s Education Office.
Documents expected: Feedback report
Deadline: 2 weeks after campaign
E. Analysis of results
The teams will analyse the results obtained during the centrifuge campaign and submit their data in Journal of Physiology paper format to ESA's Education Office within 4 months of having performed their experiment. This document submission will be done in two phases, with a preliminary submission in August and a final reviewed version end October/beginning of November
Documents expected: preliminary and final versions of the paper
Deadline: ~2 and 4 months after campaign