Canadian Astrobiology Training Program (CATP)

The Canadian Astrobiology Training Program (CATP) is the first Canadian cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral training program in Astrobiology and is an NSERC-funded Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program (CREATE) (2009-2015) located at McGill University, McMaster University, University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, and the University of Winnipeg. The CATP program objectives are being accomplished through collaborative and integrative research approaches containing elements of geology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, microbiology, and robotics.

CATP trainees (~70 graduate & undergraduate students, PDFs over 6 years) will be exposed to innovative research and training approaches, combining fieldwork at unique Canadian analogue sites, including those in the high Arctic, with laboratory work at cutting edge analytical facilities at participating university, government, and industry partners. Shared expertise within and among institutions will be provided by means of course and seminar videoconferencing, and interdisciplinary supervision. Professional training will be enhanced by training rotations with our collaborators at CSA, MDA Space Missions, and our international partners, including NASA Ames.

CATP Highly Qualified People (HQP) trained in various aspects of astrobiology will be at the forefront of the search for life beyond the Earth. Indeed, CATP will address the recognized lack of HQP in space science and lead to new scientific opportunities and promote Canadian participation in future missions to Mars with the ultimate goal of having Canadian scientists actively participating on such missions within 2-5 years as well as a future Mars sample return mission; both are direct initiatives of the 2008 CSA Exploration Roadmap. The skills acquired through this program will be directly transferable to various other disciplines, such as Earth and environmental sciences, robotics, medicine, and astronomy.

CATP research activities will be structured around 4 major themes that are explicitly linked to the domains of expertise of the CATP co-applicants: Extremophiles, Biosignatures, Astrobiology Instrument and Technology Development, and Planetary Analogues. The 4 themes unite to serve a common purpose: the unambiguous detection of life, extant or extinct, in areas where the existence of life cannot be presupposed. For more information regarding the CATP initiatives, please follow this web link: http://create-astrobiology.mcgill.ca/index.html Here you will find details regarding our current students and their research, our highly successful seminar series, and the training opportunities available and how to apply during the next recruitment period scheduled to start in November 2010. Please note that the deadline for all applications is 14 January 2011. [Source: NAI]

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