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.