Dr. Mariya Khodakovskaya has received $100,000 from NASA to discover how to improve sustainability and stress tolerance in plants developed for exploration of Mars. In order for humans to explore new planets such as Mars, plants and crops need to sustainably grow in environments that do not have an abundance of water. Khodakovskaya will be investigating how applying carbon nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes can affect and enhance plants’ tolerance to drought stress and other environmental factors. Khodakovskaya will apply this technology to valuable agricultural crops such as rice and soybeans. This will allow space explorers to grow plant food sources on Mars. Dr. Khodakovskaya believes that the new “nano-agro” technology is a cheap and efficient way to reduce the use of water in greenhouses to specifically produce plants for human exploration on other planets. Additionally, she thinks this technology is a better alternative to genetic engineering to improve crops.