Matthew Reyes

Exploration Solutions, Inc.
Winter Park, FL

Alumni of 2000 Ames Academy

My history with NASA began in 1996 as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, developing means to analyze & broadcast Jovian Decametric Radio emissions at the UF Radio Observatory. Through funding from the Florida Space Grant Consortium and NASA's RadioJOVE & INSPIRE projects, I developed the first ever internet audio streaming of radio astronomy observations. As a child, I had always loved Astronomy and had dreamed of being an astronaut; so I thought, why not study space itself!

In 1997, astronaut Dr. (and USAF Col.) Cady Coleman suggested I reconsider my path given that most astronauts don't study astronomy while in space. I met Dr. Coleman at UF after a presentation on a mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-93. One of her goals was to work on a UF professor's genetically modified Arabidopsis thaliana plants for the first molecular biology experiment performed in space. After waiting in line, Dr. Coleman convinced me to consider choosing a major involving plant biology. The very next day I selected Environmental Horticulture; the art and science of cultivating plants in unnatural habitats.

My interest in both astronomy & biology strained the internet's first search engines. Before Google, I still was able to discover the budding field of Astrobiology, and in turn the NASA Ames Academy. I was so intent on entering the Academy, that continuted to apply after two rejections. It was not until my third try that Dr. Douglas O'Handley finally accepted my application for the 2000 NASA Ames Astrobiology Academy, affectionately known as NAABA2k. I worked with Dr. Jeffrey D. Smith on studing Arabidopsis thaliana morphology & starch production in hypergravity. Immediately after the Academy, Lockheed Martin hired me to complete the project over following months.

In 2001, I returned to UF for graduate studies of Plant Molecular & Cell Biology in the same laboratory that developed Dr. Coleman's plant space biology experiment. Under Dr. Robert J. Ferl's supervision, I studied the biochemistry of starch synthesis and the molecular evolution of protein-protein interactions. Dr. Ferl also provided me opportunities to work plant molecular biology experiments in microgravity aboard NASA's KC-135, the "Vomit Comet". My intent was to graduate with a Master's degree and work at Kennedy Space Center, however, the 2003 Columbia disaster ended the funding, and my dreams of working in space life sciences at NASA.

In 2004 I was contacted by Loretta Hidalgo through the NASA Academy Alumni Association mailing list about a chance to work for the ZERO GRAVITY CORPORATION: the worlds first publicly available microgravity flight experience. The opportunity was irresistable, and in 2004 I suspended my graduate work to eventually become ZERO-G's Director of Technical Operations. With ZERO-G I had been a participant on over 100 flights, oversaw hundreds of educator, research, and tourist passengers, and helped produced and/or appeared in nearly a dozen TV commercials & shows , including the Mythbusters and the feature documentary: "Inspire Me: Weightless Flights of Discovery".

The educational aspects of my work with ZERO-G compelled me to start my own education outreach company, Exploration Solutions, Inc. Through Explorations Solutions, I have worked as a freelancer on a wide variety of education projects of through video & social media. The highlights of my work with Exploration Solutions happened within precisely 6 months of each other, taking me to the oldest landmass on Earth to the newest volcanic rocks to rise from the ocean.

In July 2007, I worked with astronaut and ISS Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao and NASAWATCH editor Keith Cowing at the Haughton Mars Project Research Station in the Canadian high Arctic. While there, Leroy, Keith & I developed webcasts for children viewing our activities at several Challenger Learning Centers across North America. In December of the same year, I worked in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador with Rollins College and the US non-profit Galapagos ICE: Immerse, Connect Evolve. In service to Rollins College and it's students, I produced videos that highlighted their activities educationg the local Galapagenos skills in English, health, and the principles of environmental conservation.

Matthew Frederick Reyes is my full name, though as a result of there being multiple Matthew's in the NASA Academy program, Senor Reyes was the moniker of choice by my Academy brethren. Throughout my adult life I have also worked as a motorcycle mechanic and have ridden thousands of miles upon my pair of Suzuki cruisers. Thus my other nickname is "motorbikematt", which a quick Google search will find more details than I even remember.