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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Praise for UAE's space explorer Alia at New York summit

'Alia is one of the most promising and impressive young scientists I've ever met', said Richard Wiese, president of The Explorers Club

Alia Al Mansoori is a fine example of how space research can galvanise young minds.  Scott A Miller / The National
Alia Al Mansoori is a fine example of how space research can galvanise young minds. Scott A Miller / The National

Alia Al Mansoori, the UAE's aspiring astronaut and winner of the Genes in Space competition, received praise as she represented her country at the 114th Explorers Club Annual Dinner in New York.

The gathering, held at the Marriott Marquis in New York’s Times Square, drew more than 1,200 scientists and guests from around the globe. Al Mansoori’s visit to New York was supported by the UAE Embassy Trade Office in Washington, DC and the UAE Consulate in New York.

"Alia is one of the most promising and impressive young scientists I've ever met, and she perfectly encapsulates the dinner's theme of Next Generation Exploration. I was so impressed with her demeanour – she is a great ambassador, not only for her country, but also for the wider scientific community," said Richard Wiese, the adventure travel author and president of The Explorers Club.

Other notable attendees of the Explorers Club Annual Dinner included former Nasa astronaut and commander of the Apollo 13 mission Captain James Lovell, former Nasa astronaut Mike Massimino and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, news agency Wam reported.

"Young Emirati women play a critical role in the development and progress of the UAE’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics [Stem] sector," Consul-General Majid Al Suwaidi said. "The UAE is extremely proud of Alia’s accomplishments and her energy, enthusiasm and commitment to help lead the next generation of UAE innovators and explorers."

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Read more on The National's space series

Dreams of Emirati teenager Alia Al Mansouri launched into space

The UAE's journey to space

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At 15 years old, Al Mansoori became known in the science world after she won the Genes in Space UAE competition, a contest run by the Boeing Company, the UAE Space Agency and The National.

It challenges students from grades 7 to 12 to design experiments that will help to uncover how space has an impact on DNA.

Al Mansoori’s winning experiment studied how gene expression changes induced by stress, such as by cosmic radiation and microgravity, can be detected in space. Launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in August 2017, her experiment was tested by astronaut Peggy Whitson on the International Space Statio, and successfully detected stress-induced gene expression using a simple technique known as the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, RT-PCR.

"My visit to New York was very inspiring. During the Explorers Club dinner, I was able to meet so many people who I look up to, like astronauts and scientists and I got to learn about their experiences in their fields," Al Mansoori said. "It was an honour for me to attend the event and show everyone what the UAE is doing."

The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. Since its inception in 1904, the club has served as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide.