Archives

May 2011


"Concerns have been raised about our recent study suggesting that arsenic (As) substitutes for phosphorus (P) in major biomolecules of a bacterium that tolerates extreme As concentrations. We welcome the opportunity to better explain our methods and results and to consider alternative interpretations. We maintain that our interpretation of As substitution, based on multiple congruent lines of evidence, is viable."

Full response at Science Express

5/31 NAI AbET Seminar: Brad McLain, 'StoryTeaching: An Exploration of the Importance of Story & Narrative in Science Learning'

Join us for the first Astrobiology Education and Training Seminar!

Date/Time: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:00AM Pacific

Presenter: Brad McLain, University of Colorado, Denver

Abstract:

Humans are natural storytellers. We describe our experiences in terms of story. We recount our history in terms of story. We learn new things and construct new understanding through the reframing of old stories and the forging of new ones. We even describe who we are--to ourselves and others--in terms of story. When applied to science learning and science communication, the concept of "story" represents a powerful framework for making STEM relevant, meaningful, and exciting. This talk will explore StoryTeaching as the intersection of two fields of study: (1) Science Identity Construction through Experiential Learning, and (2) the Narrative Study of Lives. We will discuss the formation, maintenance, and maturing of positive science identities in the face of an often science-hostile youth culture, and the significance of personal ownership and integration of STEM into an individual's sense of self though the processes of interpretation and meaning making inherent in story. StoryTeaching is currently currently a research topic and methodology used at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Bio:

Brad McLain is an educational researcher and co-director of XSci at the University of Colorado, Denver. XSci is the Experiential Science Education Research Collaborative focused on research into STEM learning theory and the field of experiential learning. McLain's research focus is on science identity construction and the role of narrative (storytelling) in content understanding and personal meaning-making. He is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker and multimedia designer, having been the lead for several NSF and NASA projects over the past 10 years. Prior to joining the faculty at UCD, McLain was an educational researcher at the Space Science Institute, a multimedia instructional designer in the online learning industry, a NASA educational lead, and a social science researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). McLain's NASA experience began in 2001 as an education lead for space shuttle mission STS 107, Columbia's final flight which ended in tragedy. Following his stint on the human space flight side of NASA, he became in involved is several educational efforts in space science and astrobiology. He is also a long-time partner of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and has served as an NAI presenter, reviewer, and project development partner in both NASA and NSF funded astrobiology education projects. McLain lives in Boulder Colorado with his family of 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 wife.

Participation Instructions:

TO JOIN USING A VIDEOCONFERENCING SYSTEM:

Please RSVP to Marco Boldt (Marco.Boldt@nasa.gov) if you will be joining by Polycom.

To view the slides, connect to http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/storyteaching/

TO JOIN USING A WEB BROWSER:

The slides and audio/video for this meeting will be presented using Adobe Connect. To join the meeting, connect to:
http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/storyteaching/

Date/Time: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:00AM Pacific
Presenter: Mark Allen (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech)

Abstract: The ESA/NASA ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter (EMTGO) mission, with a planned launch in 2016, is based on a concept that can be traced back to the NAI. EMTGO is also the first truly international mission in which NASA is a participant; the contributions from ESA and NASA are closely intertwined. The primary objective of EMTGO is to characterize the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere, particularly trace species that may be signatures of extant biological and/or geological processes, and its variability in space and time. It is hoped that these measurements, along with a good understanding of the contemporaneous atmospheric state, may allow localization of the surface source(s) of the "exotic" trace gases. The international science payload selected for this mission has the capability to inventory the atmospheric composition with more sensitivity than has flown on previous deep space planetary missions. One measure of this capability is the ability to detect three cows on Mars belching methane. Several of the NAI principal investigators and co-investigators are members of the payload science teams.

Participation Instructions:

TO JOIN USING A VIDEOCONFERENCING SYSTEM: Please RSVP to Marco Boldt (Marco.Boldt@nasa.gov) if you will be joining by Polycom. To view the slides, connect to http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/nai_directors_seminar/

TO JOIN USING A WEB BROWSER: The slides and audio/video for this meeting will be presented using Adobe Connect. To join the meeting, connect to: http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/nai_directors_seminar/

From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) is a collection of high resolution images that showcase the beauty and excitement of planetary exploration--our journey to understand the origin and evolution of the Solar System, and our search for life elsewhere.

FETTSS is freely available to organizations worldwide. You can download the high-resolution images for free, and print and display however many you choose, wherever you choose, and in any format you choose! Contact us to get started!

Tips for success and links to the Twitter feed and Facebook page are on the website: http://fettss.arc.nasa.gov.

The images are at once artistic and informative, weaving together themes in astrobiology, planetary science, and astronomy. Including contributions from backyard astronomers, large telescopes in space, and even point-and-shoot cameras of field researchers, the collection represents the current state of exploration as seen through the eyes of the scientific community. Thanks to all who contributed to the collection!

Applications are invited for an experienced research scientist to join NASA Ames in
defining the field of Space Synthetic Biology. Applications are being accepted through Friday, May 27, 2011.

Building on decades of cutting edge scientific achievements, NASA Ames Research Center is creating a new, interdisciplinary, research effort to use synthetic biology as an enabling technology to explore our solar system.

As a recognized expert and leader, you will establish a Center for Space Synthetic Biology and play a key role in defining the field. You will direct start-up funds (subject to appropriation) intended to fund your salary, lab equipment, graduate students, and post-doctoral students, and grow research capabilities to build this center into a world-renowned establishment. You will recruit and lead research teams, compete for grants, and collaborate with others within and outside of NASA. You will provide strategic consulting to NASA management in defining the research directions and priorities for applying Synthetic Biology to achieve the goals and objectives of the Agency. Your research strategy and partnerships will leverage investments in research and technology by industry, foundations, universities, and other agencies. You will serve as a key agency interface to the Synthetic Biology community to further NASA's programmatic goals and objectives.

The Center for Space Synthetic Biology at NASA Ames Research center is being created to harness biology in reliable, robust, engineered systems to support NASA's exploration and science missions, to improve life on Earth, and to help shape NASA's future. With the promise of engineered biology on Earth within reach, NASA's Center for Space Synthetic Biology aims to develop advanced concepts for Synthetic Biology applications in space.

Your research will create advances in one or more of the following areas: advanced materials; biological life support and in situ resource utilization; radiation and gravitational biology countermeasures; human health; advanced sensing; food production; fuel production; thermal management; understanding the origins and evolution of life and possible alternative biochemistries, physical limits and evolution of organic life. Useful skills include molecular dynamics simulations of biological systems, multi-scale modeling and coarse-graining techniques, modeling of metabolism and methods of bioinformatics. Willingness to broaden scientific interests to the analysis of genomic and metabolic data from future biologically oriented missions and ground based studies is desired.

At NASA, your research could change the world and enable exploration of new ones.

US Citizenship is required.

Interested applicants should apply directly to USAJobs to vacancy number AR11B0066 at http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/ftva.asp?opmcontrol=2240258

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) is soliciting applications for its Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The two-year fellowships are available in any U.S. laboratory carrying out space-related biomedical or biotechnological research.

Applicants are required to submit proposals with the support of a mentor and institution, and all proposals will be evaluated by a peer review panel.

Selected applicants receive a stipend, allowance for health insurance, and travel funds for related scientific meetings. Also, an optional, competitive third-year of fellowship support is available.

Detailed program and application submission information is available at http://www.nsbri.org/FUNDING-OPPORTUNITIES/Current-Announcements/.

Proposals must be submitted electronically via the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) at:
http://nspires.nasaprs.com .

Notices of intent are due May 18, 2011, and the application deadline is June 20, 2011. Questions may be directed to David A. Watson, Ph.D., NSBRI Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, by email, postdoc@www.nsbri.org, or by phone, 713-798-7412.

NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the medical technologies needed for long missions. The Institutes science, technology and education projects take place at more than 60 institutions across the United States.

The Nordic Network of Astrobiology Graduate Schools is coordinated from Stockholm University and currently comprises six Nordic universities, one in the Baltic States (Estonia), and one in the US. The Nordic Network is formally now an Affiliate Partner of the NAI. The universities and local coordinators of the Network are:

* University of Bergen, Norway (Dr. Nicola McLoughlin)
* University of Aarhus, Denmark (Dr. Liv Hornekaer)
* University of Turku, Finland (Dr. Kirsi Lehto)
* University of Copenhagen, Denmark (Dr. Uffe Grae Jorgensen)
* University of Iceland/IMO (Dr. orsteinn orsteinsson)
* University of Tartu, Estonia (Prof. Kalle Kirsimaee)
* University of Hawai'I, USA (Prof. Karen Meech)
* Stockholm University, Sweden (Dr. Wolf Geppert, Network Coordinator)

The Nordic Network has been engaged in a variety of activities, mainly focused on graduate training. In addition, many Network members are active in interdisciplinary astrobiology research, in many cases in collaboration with US investigators.

The NAI and the Nordic Network envision that the partnership will focus initially on the following areas:

* participation of Nordic and U.S. students and young scientists in courses organised by the Nordic Network and the NAI, such as the prior Nordic-NASA Summer/ Winter Schools;
* participation of Nordic researchers in NASA Astrobiology Focus Groups;
* exchanges of U.S. and Nordic scientists and students to perform research at each other's institutions;
* exchanges of U.S. and Nordic scientists for lecture presentations; and
* organization of Nordic/NASA workshops in astrobiology.

For more information: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/international-partners/active/nordic-network/

The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is accepting proposals to the 2011 NAI Director's Discretionary Fund (DDF).

Priority in selection for the NAI 2011 DDF will be given to proposals that are characterized by one or more of the following:

* Integrates the research of and realizes synergies among the current NAI teams
* Expands the scope of NAI research (and the NAI community) in innovative ways, accepting some risk in return for high pay-off potential
* Responds in a timely way to new scientific results or programmatic opportunities
* Develops connections between astrobiology research and other NASA science programs, particularly NASA's Earth Science Program - see, http://nasascience.nasa.gov/earth-science
* Directly supports flight programs, particularly through instrument development
* Uses funding particularly effectively, for example through leveraging or building on past investments
* Supports early career investigators

Schedule: Proposals will be accepted at any time until June 30, 2011.

For more information: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/funding/the-nai-directors-discretionary-fund/intro

A two-day workshop using NAI remote communications tools will be held on May 12th and 13th, 2011. Real-time participation requires only an internet connection and is available to interested scientists from around the world. More details, including connection and registration information, is available at the meeting website given below.

Synopsis

Over the past 4 billion years, the Earth and its biosphere have undergone a series of linked transitions in redox state, biochemical plasticity, and biological diversity. In order to study this evolution, diverse scientific disciplines (including inorganic and organic geochemistry, microbiology, and genomics) must overcome traditional disciplinary barriers and integrate their tools and perspectives. In recent years, numerous technological advances have resulted in rapid advances in each of these fields. One of the most striking has been the development of cheaper and more efficient sequencing technologies, along with attendant advances in genetics and the computational techniques to leverage the resulting data. To facilitate interactions between paleobiologists and scientists using the latest techniques in molecular biology and genomics, a symposium will be held at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, California. The primary objective is the exchange of knowledge and the development of a dialog that might yield cutting-edge ideas for future work.

Confirmed Speakers

* Tim Lyons, University of California, Riverside
* Gordon Love, University of California, Riverside
* James Lake, University of California, Los Angeles
* Gustavo Caetano-Anolles, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
* Lawrence David, Harvard University
* Trinity Hamilton, Montana State University
* Ziming Zhao, Georgia Tech
* Clyde Hutchison, J. Craig Venter Institute
* Kate Freeman, Pennsylvania State University
* Dave Doughty, California Institute of Technology
* Jason Raymond, Arizona State University
* Andrew Allen, J. Craig Venter Institute
* Jack Bailey, University of Minnesota
* Frank Stewart, Georgia Tech

The workshop will consist of talks and discussion. Each presentation will allow ample time for questions and answers afterwards. We encourage researchers to attend in real time to engage in what we expect will be a lively exchange of ideas during the workshop.

Workshop Organizing Committee

* Chris Dupont, J. Craig Venter Institute
* Ariel Anbar, Arizona State University
* John Peters, Montana State University

For more information and participation instructions, visit: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/geobiology2011

Date/Time: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:00AM Pacific
Presenter: Mark Allen (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech)

Abstract:

The ESA/NASA ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter (EMTGO) mission, with a planned launch in 2016, is based on a concept that can be traced back to the NAI. EMTGO is also the first truly international mission in which NASA is a participant; the contributions from ESA and NASA are closely intertwined.

The primary objective of EMTGO is to characterize the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere, particularly trace species that may be signatures of extant biological and/or geological processes, and its variability in space and time. It is hoped that these measurements, along with a good understanding of the contemporaneous atmospheric state, may allow localization of the surface source(s) of the "exotic" trace gases.

The international science payload selected for this mission has the capability to inventory the atmospheric composition with more sensitivity than has flown on previous deep space planetary missions. One measure of this capability is the ability to detect three cows on Mars belching methane.

Several of the NAI principal investigators and co-investigators are members of the payload science teams.

For more information and participation instructions: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/seminars/detail/192

This amendment delays the proposal due date for Appendix D.2 the Astrophysics Data Analysis program and Appendix C.2 the Cosmochemistry program in order to give time to proposers who are without power because of tornadoes. The new due date for proposals for both C.2 and D.2 is Friday, May 20, 2011. Table 2 and Table 3 of the Summary of Solicitation for this NRA will be updated to reflect this change.

On or about May 6, 2011, this Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2011" (NNH11ZDA001N) will be posted on the NASA research opportunity homepage at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ and will appear on the RSS feed at: http://nasascience.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/grant-solicitations/roses-2011

Questions concerning C.2, the Cosmochemistry program, may be addressed to Jeffrey Grossman at jeffrey.n.grossman@nasa.gov or 202-358-1218.

Questions concerning D.2 the Astrophysics Data Analysis program may be addressed to Douglas Hudgins at douglas.m.hudgins@nasa.gov or 202-358-0988