Mark Staves

Professor of Biology

9am EST., Friday February 16th

Presenting Live via Zoom/In-Person hybrid format

Plants in Space: Why, How and Who Cares?

Gravity – a constant force on Earth but almost lacking in orbiting space craft and much reduced on the moon and Mars – has a profound effect on plant development. How do plants perceive this important gravity signal? We will examine, in light of experimental and anatomical data, the traditional model for plant gravity sensing with our model our model which suggests that the entire cell senses gravity. Plants were not a part of the early space program but we will discuss how they will be critical for long-term lunar habitation and future missions to Mars as a source of oxygen, food and astronaut well-being.


Mark Staves is professor and chair of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at GVSU. He received a BS in aquatic biology, a MS in marine botany and a PhD in molecular evolution at the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to GVSU, he completed post-doctoral fellowships funded by NASA’s exobiology and space biology programs at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and Cornell University, respectively. His current research focuses on understanding how plants perceive and respond to environmental stimuli – especially gravity. He and his students have presented and published this work widely and he serves on several NASA panels focused on space biology.

Mark Staves

Page last modified January 18, 2024