April 2013 Issue

In this issue:

Conferences, Field Trips and Workshops

Student and Early Career Opportunities

Funding Opportunities

Conferences, Field Trips and Workshops

WATSURF 2013 - Water at Interfaces: New Developments in Physics, Chemistry and Biology

Location: Mt. Blanc, France

The Les Houches Physics School has organized a session entitled: Water at Interfaces: New Developments in Physics, Chemistry and Biology

Water at interfaces is an emerging field of great topical interest, in its theoretical aspects and in the diversity of its experimental methods. Important new developments in the field involve the properties of water (and ice) next to various types of interface, incorporating both hard and soft substrates.

The School will take place at the Ecole de Physique des Houches in the French Alps at the foot of Mt. Blanc. The registration fees are 825 Euros/person, which includes the cost for a full-board stay at the Ecole for 10 days (arrival on the evening of Monday April 15th, departure on Friday April 26th at noon). A subsidiary has been requested for the permanent training of CNRS agents, which, if granted, will allow CNRS agents to have their stay covered by their institution.

For more information, please visit: http://www-llb.cea.fr/WATSURF-2013/

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UK Astrobiology Conference 2013

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

The 5th UK Astrobiology Conference – Molecules and Life in Extremes – will be hosted by the UK Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh. The focus is to understand the origin of life, how life has persisted on the Earth for over 3.5 billion years and whether we might find it elsewhere. This requires that we understand how molecules and life evolve and adapt to extreme environments. The 5th UK astrobiology conference, supported by the UK Space Agency, will explore molecules and life in extremes. The conference welcomes astronomers, biologists, chemists, physicists and other disciplines that intersect with astrobiology. The conference marks the 10th anniversary since the founding of the Astrobiology Society of Britain. Sessions will include: Mars science and exploration, astrobiology outreach, icy bodies research, life in extreme environments, molecules in extreme environments. Keynote speakers include Lynn Rothschild, Synthetic Biology in Space (NASA Ames), Andrew Spry, Planetary Protection (JPL), Lorna Dougan, Single molecules under extremes (Leeds). Social events will include a Ceilidh, whisky tasting and a conference dinner, giving delegates a true taste of Scotland. ASB5 is supported by the UK Centre for Astrobiology, the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, the UK Space Agency, and the Royal Astronomical Society. Travel grants are available. The conference is preceded by an informal opening of the UK Centre for Astrobiology on the evening of April 16th with a public lecture on ‘The Search for Life in the Universe’ by Christopher McKay, NASA Ames Research Centre. Conference delegates are also welcome to sign up. It is limited to 50 people.

Visit: http://www.astrobiology.ac.uk/events/asb5/ for all the details.

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MARS2013 Science Workshop

Location: Vienna, Austria

*Registration Deadline: 10th May 2013
Abstract Submission Deadline: 14th May 2013 (150 words max)*

The MARS2013 Analog Expedition in Morocco generated an enormous amount of valuable data in February 2013. The aim of this workshop is to discuss the efficient use of the data and to coordinate the analysis. To facilitate the multidisciplinary approach to planetary exploration this workshop will provide the participants with the opportunity to strengthen their network of scientific and technical collaborators.

For more information visit: http://www.oewf.org/cms/mars2013.phtml

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First International Workshop on Education in Astrobiology

Location: Höör, Sweden

Deadline for registration, accommodation booking and abstract submission: 15 April 2013

The meeting aims to bring together scientists and teachers engaged in astrobiology education in universities and other training institutions to

  • discuss new teaching and assessment forms in astrobiology
  • foster international cooperation in astrobiology teaching
  • give the attendants a thorough overview of the field

Training students in such a multidisciplinary subject implies a lot of challenges and pitfalls, both in the set-up and organization of the course, choice of lecturers and literature, grading of students as well as the necessity of new teaching methods. The conference will not only serve as a forum for exchange of ideas and experiences, but also as a starting point for a long-term international collaboration in astrobiology teaching. Furthermore, the meeting will produce a set of videotaped lectures that can be used as a reference for institutions organizing astrobiology courses. Please find all informations on the event: http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/IWEA

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XII Spanish National Congress of Virology

Location: Burgos, Spain

The Spanish Society for Virology (SEV) and the Organizing Committee are pleased to welcome you to Burgos, Spain, for the XII Spanish National Congress of Virology (XII CNV). The Congress will be held on June 9-12, 2013, at the Aula Magna of the University of Burgos and at the Congress Center Forum Evolucion Burgos. We have scheduled an interesting program covering various basic and clinical aspects of human, veterinary and plant virology. We will also explore the fruitful interaction of virology with other areas of biology (in particular, the study of evolution and the microbiology of extreme environments), as well as with medicine, chemistry and physics. In addition, we are both pleased and honored to host several renowned Spanish and foreign virologists as invited speakers. All together, we will be able to discuss current progresses, achievements, and challenges in the study of viruses. We have also prepared an interesting social and cultural program that includes a visit to two of the major scientific landmarks of Burgos: the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca and the Museum of Human Evolution. The official language of the Congress will be English.

Website address for further information http://www.cab.inta-csic.es/congresovirologiasev2013/index.php/en.html

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AbGradCon 2013

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The 10th annual Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon), an interdisciplinary conference organized by and for graduate students and early career scientists, will be held at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from June 10th – 14th, 2013. AbGradCon is for pre- and early-career scientists (astronomers, biologists, chemists, educators, engineers, geologists, planetary scientists and social scientists) whose research addresses a topic relevant to astrobiology.

For all information and updates, visit www.abgradcon.org

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Isotopes as Diagnostic Tools in Astronomy, Geology and Biology

Location: Höör, Sweden

Deadline for registration, accommodation booking and abstract submission: 15 April 2013

The third meeting of the Nordic Network of Astrobiology will be devoted to the subject “Isotopes as diagnostic tools in astronomy, geology and biology”. Isotope ratios are used in many fields of astrobiology, to determine the origin and synthesis pathways of interstellar molecules, to date early geological formation, to assess paleoclimates and, last but not least, to detect life on early Earth. The conference aims to bring researchers from different fields using isotopes together to exchange the newest developments in this field and to develop ideas for further research. The following themes will be, amongst others, covered by the symposium:

  • Isotope ratios in the interstellar medium
  • Isotopes in stars
  • Isotopes and the early solar system
  • Isotopes in meteorites
  • Isotopes in dating of geological formations
  • Isotope ratios as indications of catastrophic events in Earth’s history
  • Identification of metabolisms in sediments by using stable isotopes
  • Effects of stable isotopes on biological systems
  • Stable Isotope ratios as biomarkers on Mars and other habitable planets and satellites
  • Isotopes in the search for life on the early Earth
  • Isotopes in ice cores as indications in past and present climates

The conference will take place at Åkersberg Herrgård in Höör, Skåne in Southern Sweden. The venue is only a 400m walk from Höör railway station, from where there are frequent direct connections to Copenhagen Airport. The meeting is open to interested scientists all over the world. We from the Nordic Network of Astrobiology are looking forward to welcoming you at the conference.

For further information visit the event website: http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/Isotopes2013/

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Extraterrestrial Liberty: What is Freedom Beyond the Earth

Location: London, England

This is a call for presentations and registration for a joint UK Centre for Astrobiology/British Interplanetary Society two-day meeting to explore the development of freedom in the extreme conditions of outer space. One of the most compelling questions in political philosophy, and one that has been intensely debated by scientists and political philosophers since the early years of the Enlightenment (although it has its roots in the democracy of ancient Athens) is: ‘What is liberty?’ Over the next few years, the UK Centre for Astrobiology will host a series of symposia to consider the development of liberty and democratic institutions beyond the Earth. Drawing on the long discussions that have occurred since the Enlightenment, the symposia seek to understand how the unique conditions of space will influence the future of freedom in space. These questions constitute an important philosophical strand of astrobiology linked to how human societies adapt to the extreme conditions of outer space. Topics to be addressed include: Liberty on planetary surfaces and in spaceships, the rule of law in space, the nature of democracy in space, land ownership and freedom in space, the nature of tyranny in space, the independence of space settlements and extraterrestrial constitutions.

The workshop is open to anyone interested in the social implications of space exploration and settlement. It is open to scientists, political philosophers, policy makers and others. Speakers to include: John Cain, GeoFind Consultancy: ‘Astronaut Health: Planetary Exploration and the Limitations on Freedom’ Stuart Armstrong, University of Oxford: ‘Outrunning the Law: The Ease of Intergalactic Colonisation Poses Unique Challenges for Star-spanning Civilizations’ Charles Cockell, University of Edinburgh: ‘Freedom in a Box: Paradoxes in the Structure of Extraterrestrial Liberty’ Paul Rosenberg, The Free-Man’s Perspective: ‘Space: John Locke’s Ultimate Triumph’ Steve Baxter, Science Fiction Writer: ‘The Cold Equations: Extraterrestrial Ethics in Science Fiction’ Kelvin Long, Institute for Interstellar Studies: ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Extending Personal Freedom to the Space Frontier and Managing the Consequences’. Ian Crawford, Birkbeck, London: ‘Interplanetary Federalism: Maximising the Chances of Extraterrestrial Liberty’ We welcome suggestions for presentations.

Please contact Charles Cockell at c.s.cockell@ed.ac.uk if you are interesting in contributing. Register at: http://www.bis-space.com/2012/10/17/7183/extraterrestrial-liberty-what-is-freedom-beyond-the-earth

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Astrobiology Grand Tour - Western Australia

Location: Denham, Australia

This eleven-day scientific discovery tour that journeys from the Western Australian coastal town of Denham through the Pilbara will be a trip back in time. It is designed for scientists interested in the earliest life on Earth, and early environments. Highlights range from the modern stromatolites of Shark Bay, through the banded iron formations of the Hamersley Ranges to the earliest convincing evidence of life on Earth in the 3.5 billion-year-old rocks of the Pilbara Craton. Your guide, Professor Malcolm Walter, will take you through some of Australia’s most remote and remarkable countryside. Accommodation will be in a sheep station (ranch), country hotels and camping under the stars (made easy by professional camp managers, Outdoor Spirit).

For more information visit: http://aca.unsw.edu.au/Grand_Tour
Download the PDF with all the details and the booking form below

To secure your place, please return a copy of the booking form to marnie@fredwatson.com.au

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Australian Astrobiology Meeting 2013

Location: Sydney, Australia

We cordially invite you to register for the 1st Australian Astrobiology Meeting, being held at the Kensington Campus of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, on June 30-July 2, 2013. The conference programme is targeting the following key themes in astrobiology:
1) Early life: lessons from Earth;
2) Other worlds and planetary systems;
3) Signatures of life in the universe.

Registration is now open. For more information visit the conference website: http://www.astrobiologyaustralia.com.au/

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Protostars & Planets VI

Location: Heidelberg, Germany

The Protostars and Planets series has served the community for more than three decades with state of the art compilations of the current knowledge in the fields of star and planet formation. The previous volume PPV was published in 2007. Since then, the field of protostars and planets has advanced tremendously, from a theoretical as well as observational point of view.

The primary outcome of the conference will be the Protostars and Planets VI book of review articles. The logistics of preparing excellent overview articles and getting them into print in due time requires timely organization. Therefore, the deadline to submit proposals for review chapters and associated talks was closed on September 15th 2012.

For more information visit: http://www.mpia-hd.mpg.de/homes/ppvi/index.php

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Summer course: "Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life"

Location: Saaremaa, Estonia

Application Deadline: 30 April 2013

The course “Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life” will take place from 16 to 25 August 2013 at Kuressaare and the Kaali impact crater site on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia. The following subjects will be covered:

  • Roles of impacts in the formation of habitable planets
  • Physical and chemical properties of comets and meteorites
  • Detection and investigation of impact craters by geological methods and remote sensing from space
  • Ecological consequences of impacts and the role of impacts in mass extinctions
  • Transfer of life through meteorite impacts
  • Threat to life on our planet by near-Earth asteroids and comets

The lecture programme will be complemented by practical exercises concerning:

  • Electromagnetic mapping of impact sites
  • Analysis of pollen indicators of the Kaali impact event
  • Microscopy of impactites
  • Georadar profiling at Kaali

Participants will also have the possibility to display their own research results in two poster sessions. Furthermore, excursions to geologically interesting sites like the Panga cliffs are planned.

The course is aimed for graduate (masters and Ph. D.) students and early career scientists (up to 5 years after their first Ph. D. in a related field) in fields relevant to astrochemistry and astrobiology. It is open to applicants from all nationalities. Detailed information about the summer school and the application procedure (deadline 30 April 2013) can be found at the website of the course: http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/Impacts2013/

Successful applicants accepted by the organizers will receive meals and excursions, but will have to organize financial means for their travel to and from Kuressaare and their lodging themselves. See you in Saaremaa in August!

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Goldschmidt 2013 - Deep Subsurface Fluids, Habitability and Microbial Ecosystems

Location: Florence, Italy
Abstract Submission Deadline: Closed - April 12, 2013

Convenors: Matt Schrenk, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Chris Ballentine
Keynote: Eric Boyd (Montana State University)

The microbial biosphere at the Earth’s surface has long been thought to lack dispersal barriers. The extent to which this is true in the subsurface biosphere remains to be tested. Taking into account the spectrum of subsurface biomes, there are numerous variants impacting microbial dispersal, success, and evolution in the global subsurface. These include a range of dynamics and time scales of fluid mixing (opportunities for dispersal, supply of energy and nutrients), and diverse environmental selective pressures (e.g. temperature, pH, depth). Fluid movement in marine and terrestrial sediments is slow, and diffusive processes play a significant role in materials transport. In contrast, subsurface fluids in basement rock at mid-ocean ridges and ridge flanks have been estimated to circulate the entire volume of the world’s oceans on time scales of <1 Ma. On the continents, Precambrian Shields harbor groundwaters in fractures isolated for millions of years. Timescales of fluid transport, penetration into the subsurface and mixing define the timeframe and extent to which the subsurface is seeded with organisms. Sources and rates of water-rock interaction within the biome provide a key component in habitability and the subsurface energy cycle. This session will highlight the need for concerted investigations of subsurface microbial ecosystems, integrating both genomic and geochemical data, to resolve important questions regarding the age, connectivity and chemistry of habitats, and to permit a global comparison of rates and trajectories of evolution in the deep biosphere.

For more information visit: http://goldschmidt.info/2013/

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European Planetary Science Congress 2013 "Chemical Evolution and Early Life"

Location: London, England

Abstract Submission Deadline: Closed – May 6 , 2013

This year’s European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC 2013) will be held in London, UK, 8-13 September. A session entitled “The Environmental Context of Organic Chemical Evolution and Early Life” (session abbreviation: AB3) is planned within the “Astrobiology” group . It is organized by Henry Strasdeit (Convener), Stefan Fox and Frances Westall (Co-Conveners). The session addresses the role of the Hadean/Archean (inorganic) environment in the origin and early development of life. Oral and poster contributions are welcome.

For more information visit:

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Origin of the Moon

Location: London, England

Two contiguous meetings sponsored by the Royal Society, London, will discuss the Origin of the Moon. Despite widespread acceptance of the giant impact hypothesis for lunar origin, our understanding continues to be challenged by remarkable new geochemical data, improved simulations and theory, and spacecraft exploration. This will be a timely consideration of our current understanding, how this relates to our Earth and planetary systems and an opportunity to identify the directions of future research.

Organized by David Stevenson (Caltech) and Alex Halliday (Oxford), the first meeting will be September 23-24 in London and the second will be at the Kavli center (about 90 minutes from London), September 25-26. There will be a poster session for contributed papers at the second meeting only.

For more information, visit http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/origin-moon/ for the London meeting , and http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/moon-origin-satellite/ for the follow-on meeting.

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64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC)

Location: Beijing, China
Abstract submission deadline CLOSED: February 21, 2013

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is the largest space-related conference worldwide and selects an average of 1000 scientific papers every year. The Congress’ theme is Promoting Space Development for the Benefits of Mankind.

For additional information please visit the IAC website at: http://www.iac2013.org/.

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International Biogeoscience Conference 2013

Location: Japan

Early registration deadline: August 31, 2013.
Abstract submission for oral presentations is closed but slots for poster presentations are still open.

To submit a poster, please contact Kenichiro (Ken) Sugitani as soon as possible. Registrations for presentation will be closed when all poster slots are filled.

The International Biogeoscience Conference 2013 – “Revealing the biotic diversity on the early Earth and the evolution of cyanobacteria and eukaryotes” will take place at Nagoya University, Japan, co-hosted by Nagoya City Science Museum, the Japan Astrobiology Network Association, and the Australian Centre for Astrobiology.

This conference aims to bring together geologists, paleontologists, geochemists, biologists, and molecular and evolutionary biologists to discuss significant contemporary issues relating to our understanding of the early evolution of life and its interaction with Earth’s surface environments.

For all the conference information visit: http://www.info.human.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~sugi/Site/Biogeoscience_Conference_2013.html

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Student and Early Career Opportunities

Postdoctoral Faculty Opportunity at The University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia

Location: Sydney, Australia

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia is looking for a new faculty staff member in Earth Sciences, specifically for candidates with up to 7 years post-PhD experience (not more). http://www.science.unsw.edu.au/opportunities

UNSW is looking for someone who is a good researcher and a good teacher to share the load of teaching first year courses and to develop their own research profile in any aspect of earth sciences.

UNSW is a broad and diverse school, spanning biology, earth and environmental sciences, including climate science and the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. The earth sciences component is very small, but active and dynamic and they have a strong paleosciences group, spanning everything from deep time (me) to modern hominid evolution. They’re only just starting to expand, after years of decline following the last economic bust some years ago (5 staff now, down from 20 a decade ago or more).

The School’s home page is at: http://www.bees.unsw.edu.au/

UNSW has the nationally ranked analytical facility (Mark Wainwright Analytical facility: http://research.unsw.edu.au/facilities/mark-wainwright-analytical-centre).

Please direct expressions of interest to: martin.vankranendonk@unsw.edu.au

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Celebrate One Year of Virtual Discovery and Exploration with S.A.G.A.N.!

Are we alone in the universe? How did life begin? Will the human civilization expand out into the solar system and beyond? How can we act as curators of our home planet to achieve long-term sustainability? As astrobiologists we recognize these scientific and societal questions as some of the greatest of our time. These questions are powerful not only because they engage scientists but also inspire the wider public. Motivated by a vision of providing an easily accessible, inclusive online environment for scientists and the public to engage these big questions, the Social Action for a Grassroots Astrobiology Network (S.A.G.A.N.) was launched in April of 2012 at the Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta, GA. S.A.G.A.N. is a social network and collaborative web platform anyone can access by visiting www.saganet.org.

Celebrating our first year anniversary, S.A.G.A.N. has grown to a community of over 650 members from across the world, with backgrounds ranging from professional scientists, to science enthusiasts, students, educators, and journalists.

What is in it for you?

For professional scientists, S.A.G.A.N. provides an easily accessible platform for communication and collaboration, with freely available built-in video conferencing tools (found in our breakout rooms), document sharing, live text chat, and resources to start your own private or public groups. S.A.G.A.N. also provides a social platform for sharing Education and Public Outreach efforts and activities via blogs, lectures, or status updates, or even running outreach through the site!

For science enthusiasts and students, S.A.G.A.N. offers a fun and rich platform to ask questions, join special interest-groups, read about interesting and relevant astrobiology news, listen to podcasts, view seminars, interact with scientists, find like-minded individuals in regional settings, and find mentors.

For educators, S.A.G.A.N. offers opportunities to directly connect your classroom and students with “real life” scientists and stay up-to-date with the latest science news.

For administrators, S.A.G.A.N. offers a targeted audience to communicate science relevant opportunities, such as conferences, summer-schools, graduate student/post-doc/faculty opportunities, and other programs relevant to space exploration and astrobiology.

Events and Activities on S.A.G.A.N. are as follows (but not limited to!):

* Monthly “Talk to an Astrobiologist” live chat with a renowned astrobiologist (1st Tues of every month). Our upcoming guests include Dr. Chris McKay and Dr. David DesMarais! * Weekly seminars including live broadcasts of the Arizona State University Astrobiology Coffee Hour seminars and SETI Institute Public Lectures! * Book club, currently reading “Cosmos and Culture” * Weekly discussions on engaging questions in space exploration and astrobiology. * Opportunities to learn about international astrobiology activities and interact with astrobiology enthusiasts from all over the world! * Celebrate each month with a different theme: Mars enthusiasts out there, May is for you and filled with a variety of Mars themed events!

If you haven’t logged in, and are interested in astrobiology, space exploration and related disciplines, or in the public communication of science check out S.A.G.A.N. and join in on the conversation at www.saganet.org.

We look forward to your involvement!

Your S.A.G.A.N. Team
Contact: admins@saganet.org
Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaganCommunity
Follow us on Twitter: @saganorg.

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Funding Opportunities

Earth and Space Exploration Awards

  • Application Deadline: April 30th*

Since its establishment in 1994, the Earth and Space Foundation has helped support over 50 projects around the world. The Earth and Space Awards are given to expeditions that have helped deepen the mutually beneficial connections between environmentalism and the exploration of space.

Most expeditions are eligible. They include university expeditions and other expeditions from private or non-profit organizations and government expeditions. Awards are currently the equivalent of £250 or $500 each.

For more information visit: http://www.earthandspace.org/annual.html

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