Arizona Cardinals cheerleaders with representatives of the AZ Science and Technology Festival.

HUGE thanks to the awesome Arizona Cardinals cheerleaders for swabbing their shoes and cellphones for science, last night at practice! Project MERCCURI is a collaboration of UCDavis microBEnet with the Science Cheerleaders, Space Florida, NanoracksNASA, and   There are three components to the project:
1)  Space Station Microbiome. Collecting microbial swab samples from the International Space Station (ISS) and examining the microbial communities therein (via 16S sequencing)
2) Swabbing Sports and Space Events.  Collecting swab samples around the country at sporting and other public events from cell phones, shoes, and various surfaces (e.g. keyboards, screens, railings etc.)   These will be used for comparison to the ISS samples and for a look at microbial biogeography across a national scale.  In collaboration with Jack Gilbert at the Earth Microbiome Project and the Science Cheerleaders who will be organizing and leading the sampling events.
3) Microbial Playoffs.  A microbial growth competition on the ISS.   A subset of samples collected at public events will be cultured at UC Davis and the “best” microbe from each environment will be sent to the ISS for a “microbial playoffs” competition.  A duplicate of this experiment will be conducted on earth and the results compared.  Details here.
Did you know? There are several Science Cheerleaders (current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers) on the Cardinals and we’re so happy to have them on board for Project MERCCURI.
Special shout out to the folks at the Arizona Science and Technology Festival for leading the activity at the Cardinals’ practice last night: Jeremy Babendure, Charlotte Hodel, Lisa Herrmann, and Marisa.Ostos (who also provided the following pictures!):

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