SEI-TRISH application for space health seed funding


Ariel Ekblaw / SEI

Igor Neminov

Space Exploration Initiative open-call grant opportunity

Supported by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine [NASA funded].

Questions about the application? Contact Maggie Coblentz, SEI's program manager:


This grant-based collaboration evolved as a near term follow on from the February 2019 TRISH Space2 Workshop, with a focus on concrete, applied research and prototype development; we aim to provide TRISH with a pipeline of technologies, tools, and human experiences that support deep space exploration (particularly a human mission to Mars) by focusing on high-risk, high-reward human health and wellbeing research and products. The unique structure of the Media Lab facilitates rapid, rigorous progress from early stage research, to product development, to technology deployment in real world contexts. This innovation environment can empower high-impact application of the TRISH funds, adapting pre-existing and newly developed Media Lab research for use as health mediation technologies for deep space exploration. Projects chosen through this grant cycle will be given priority for inclusion in Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) space environment deployment opportunities (e.g., the annual zero gravity flight, suborbital launch, ISS sample exposure and return, etc.), if microgravity and direct exposure to space environment are justified by the project’s testing needs.

Duration: 6 months, from May to October 2019


May 13th – May 31st | Rolling Application Period

June  | Funding Notifications, rolling

August 15th | Mid-summer one-pager updates due

Sept 15th | All awarded funds must be spent by this date

Oct 15th   | SEI hosted demo/poster showcase (ML community/internal only)

Oct 31st | Final reports due to SEI  [stay tuned, this date may change]

Application Opportunity:

A seed funding pool has been established to support space health research and prototype development, encouraging innovation and engagement from across the Media Lab. Researchers with:

A) relevant pre-existing research that can be customized, tuned and reframed for application in a space habitat environment and

B) new and previously unexplored concepts

are encouraged to apply for funding. Applications will be reviewed by the SEI, and a peer-review panel of one to three experts with relevant prior experience in the sub-field closest to the project’s topic. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis during the open submission period. This solicitation is primarily intended for projects that would be ready for public release in the fall. A special request can be made to keep the final research report private—please indicate this in your application if required.

Teaming with other MIT departments—BCS, AeroAstro, etc—is highly encouraged and will be favorably considered in the application process. We also encourage teams to reach out to and engage collaborators at other institutions with whom you may be working or have shared interests (e.g., Harvard Consortium for Space Genetics), to enrich the research proposals. 

Open-call projects will be reviewed for up to $1k tier, up to $5k tier, and up to $15k tier (see explanation in appendix). Projects at the lower budget tiers are more easily funded, so we ask teams to avoid inflating their budget needs. Projects may be selected for partial funding, if overall budget allocation does not allow for the full amount requested. Because this is the first chapter of a prospective multi-tier engagement with TRISH, projects that have a longer time horizon or larger budget are also welcome. A successful research outcome in this first grant period may lead to selection as part of a larger funding opportunity with SEI and TRISH going forward. 

TRISH does not claim IP for any of these projects.

Required Application Elements:

  • Two paragraph research description with citations, including links to relevant photos/videos, existing ML project page if relevant, etc.
  • One paragraph literature review of prior and related efforts
  • One paragraph discussing project relevance to:

TRISH research areas:

SEI mission:


SEI-TRISH joint research area: Space Envirome (see appendix below)

  • Budget table and justification pdf (see template in appendix below).

Submit all content via this google application form

Required Deliverables, if chosen:

  • Mid summer one page status report – August 15th
  • Attendance at demo/poster showcase – Oct 15th
  • ML project page (with ML group + SEI affiliation) made public by Oct 15th
  • Final report to SEI, for later sharing with TRISH:

-Succinct, application-focused research report, detailing the prototype design/research contribution and any preliminary testing or manufacturing conducted.

-Should include a summary of research and/or commercialization plans going forward and estimated schedules for inclusion in launch and testbed deployment opportunities (e.g., 2020 parabolic flight, if awarded).

~Five pages for Tier 1 and Tier 2; ~10 pages for Tier 3 (all inclusive of diagrams, citations, etc.).


SEI-TRISH joint research area

The Space Envirome: Interaction with interior habitats

To prepare for space travel beyond our near-Earth cocoon, we need to build the technologies, tools and human experiences that enable astronauts and space tourists to thrive in this exhilarating and challenging environment. We draw parallels between the complex, self-adaptive system of the microbiome and the “Envirome”—a responsive, sensor-mediated, holistic living environment. Our Envirome research integrates creative interior design, health and wellbeing diagnostics, and environmental stimuli to support inhabitant flourishing: enhancing cognitive performance, improving mental health, and diversifying entertainment. This research platform builds towards a near-future where space-faring humans can both survive and thrive wherever the future takes us—back and forth to the surface of Earth, to low Earth orbit, to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

**Projects do not have to align their work with this particular research area, and can touch on space health themes (e.g., early detection and prevention of depression) more broadly. This is given as one example research framing.

Budget Template

Acceptable itemized costs: raw materials, contractor R&D services, testing and manufacturing facility costs, post doc partial salary, UROP funding, etc. TRISH currently cannot support graduate student stipends directly. 


Ariel Ekblaw

Budget justification, one succinct paragraph:

  • Explain choice of tier

- Tier 1 is $1k and under: exploratory

- Tier 2 is $5k and under: clear deliverable or concrete, scoped tweak to existing project

- Tier 3 is $15k and under: major new project, or manufacturing/deployment opportunity for existing project

  • Explain main expenditures and relevance to research objectives.
  • Explain how all funding will be expensed/invoiced by Sept 15th deadline (awarded costs must be fully spent during grant duration period). Essentially, this means buying supplies early/up front.

Save itemized table and budget justification text as a pdf for submission to the application form. 

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