Astrobiology (general): December 2012

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced today a $480,000 gift from the Emily Landecker Foundation. The gift will establish the James P. Ferris Fellowship in Astrobiology, which will support graduate students in the School of Science pursuing research in the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. The fellowship is named in honor of Ferris, an emeritus professor of chemistry and chemical biology, currently a senior research professor, and a member of the New York Center for Astrobiology at Rensselaer.

"The field of Astrobiology seeks to address some of the most fascinating questions in science: What makes a planet habitable? How did life on Earth begin? Is there life elsewhere?" said Laurie Leshin, dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer. "The James P. Ferris Fellowship in Astrobiology will allow us to attract the very best graduate students to Rensselaer to explore these compelling questions through their research. We are extremely grateful for the generous support of the Emily Landecker Foundation in establishing the fellowship, which is a fitting tribute to Jim Ferris' pioneering work in this exciting field."

The center places a strong emphasis on education and training, and graduate students with an interest in the field are offered strong opportunities for research under the mentorship of faculty members in the center, according to Professor Doug Whittet, director of the New York Center for Astrobiology at Rensselaer.

Please join in congratulating Gerry Joyce and Jim Lake on their induction into the 232nd class of members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Founded in 1780, the American Academy is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious learned societies, and an independent research center that draws from its members' expertise to conduct studies in science and technology policy, global security, the humanities and culture, social policy, and education.

Lake and Joyce, both long-time members of the astrobiology community, are among the one hundred-eighty influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders who were inducted into the Academy at a ceremony on Saturday, October 6th. They both join the Academy's Biological Science class - Lake is in the Evolutionary and Population Biology and Ecology section and Joyce is in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology section.

The Planetary Science Division is currently seeking volunteer mail-in reviewers for the Outer Planets Research (OPR) and Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration (MatiSSE) Programs. A web form for volunteers can be found at where volunteers can indicate their interest and areas of expertise.

Application Deadline: January 7, 2013

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