by Todd Kimberley
r. Mark Edwards, the Vice-President of Corporate Development and Marketing with Algae Biosciences Incorporated, and editorial contributor to A.I.M., wrote and presented two scientific papers promoting algae’s enormous potential for the recent 100 Year Starship Study public symposium in Orlando, Fla., an initiative spearheaded by the United States government’s Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) in collaboration with NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Dr. Edwards’ paper on habitats and environmental science focuses on algae-based smart microfarms, which produce sustainable food and animal feed high in nutrient density, as well as oxygen and other forms of energy. Algae microfarms can also recycle the existing waste stream, while organic algae biofertilizers accelerate growth of plants grown in water, air, or soil.
“NASA’s scientist responsible for habitat on the International Space Station, from the United States’ perspective, was involved in the review session for this paper,” says Dr. Edwards, an Arizona State University professor, award-winning author, and celebrated algae evangelist. “They’ve been talking about using algae to moderate the habitat, provide some food, and clean the air in the International Space Station.”
DARPA’s 100 Year Starship project is intended to lay the groundwork for interstellar travel over the next century, while delivering spinoff benefits along the way.
Dr. Edwards’ paper on biology and space medicine makes note of algae’s potential in the production of medicine, vaccines, and antibodies. Both of Dr. Edwards’ papers were co-authored by Robert Henrikson of Richmond, Calif., and Mark Buehrer, of Bellingham, Wash.