Nils Averesch

Nils Averesch, PhD

Postdoc, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Stanford University Center for Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space
California, USA

Synthetic Biology for Space Exploration


Can a human outpost on the red planet be sustained by potatoes from Martian soil?

During interplanetary voyage, bioregenerative life-support systems (BLSS) can help to sustain crew-operations. Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering are perceived as enabling technologies to expand human exploration of Mars, by mitigating the need to move redundant supplies out of Earth’s gravity well, as means to account for every eventuality on the ~1.5-year round-trip. At a Mars basecamp, a biotechnology approach to the “in-situ resource utilization” (ISRU) paradigm could deploy microbial cell factories for production of food, pharmaceuticals, and materials for durable goods.

This talk will discuss current approaches to bio-ISRU and their application in BLSS, with the objective to sustain human outposts across the solar system.


Nils is a postdoc in the Criddle-lab at Stanford University, California, and part of the NASA Space Technology Research Institute CUBES (the Center for Utilisation of Biological Engineering in Space). For CUBES he is developing microbial cell factories to convert C1-carbons into high-performance polymers that can serve as materials for consumables and durable goods. His goal is to develop biological production platforms in support of human long-duration space-exploration missions, while creating a sustainable chemical industry on Earth “on the way”. He is also an Analog Astronaut, demonstrating biomanufacturing capabilities in the field (at a Space Exploration Analog and Simulation Habitat), as a proving ground for Mars

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