Conferences and Meetings: January 2011

Annual Meeting of the AOGS (Asia-Oceania Geosciences Society) Taipei, Taiwan August 8-12, 2011

This session invites solicited, contributed, and poster presentations addressing (1) conditions on the early Earth that may have been necessary for the origin of life (2) subsequent events and conditions that may have contributed to the evolution of organisms and the development of Earth's climate (3) biological and geochemical characterization of extreme environments (4) habitability of extraterrestrial atmospheres, surfaces and interiors (5) methods or technological approaches for detecting biosignatures.

Contact: Dr. Louise Prockter (Johns Hopkins University , United States) [Source: Planetary Science Institute]

From the Swiss Society for Astrophysics and Astronomy 41st Saas-Fee Advanced Course "From Planets to Life" 3-9 April 2011, Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland

This astrobiology course consists of 28 lectures organized in three parts as follow:

- Astrophysical conditions for development of life Prof. Jonathan Lunine (University of Arizona)
- Earth geology and climatology history Prof. James Kasting (Pennsylvania State University)
- Origin and critical steps of life development on Earth

Prof. John Baross (University of Washington) In addition to the formal course, the setting of this event provides ample time for informal discussions during the meals and other social events. are approaching our maximum hosting capacity, however, we can still accommodate for about a dozen additional participants. The regular registration deadline is JANUARY 28th, 2011. After this date the registration fee will raise from CHF450.- to CHF500.-. For more information please visit:

We look forward to seeing you soon, Pierre Dubath, for the organizing committee

[Source: Planetary Science Institute]

Abstract Submission Deadline: February 28, 2011
Participant Notification: April 4th, 2011

AbGradCon 2011 will be held at the Montana State University campus (Bozeman, MT) on June 4th-8th. Montana State University provides a unique setting for astrobiology graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, collaborate, and network. Since it is organized and attended by only graduate students and post docs, AbGradCon is an ideal venue for the next generation of career astrobiologists to form bonds, share ideas, and discuss the issues that will shape the future of the field. Full funding is available for US applicants. Limited funding may be available for international students. For more information, please see Please send questions and concerns to

The First Undergraduate Planetary Science Research Conference will be held on Sunday, March 6, 2011 from 9:00 am to 5:00pm, in association with the 2011 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), The Woodlands, TX.

The Conference includes:

* Panels on "How to Choose the Grad School Right for You," "Alternative Careers in Science," and "Women in Planetary Science;"
* Poster sessions where students will present their posters to other students and to the scientific community;
* "Meeting Mentors" who will pair students with a scientist for part of the LPSC meeting, so students can learn how to engage at a scientific conference;
* Opportunities to meet other undergraduate researchers, graduate students, and scientists.

Undergraduate students currently conducting research in planetary sciences, astrobiology and lunar sciences are eligible.

To apply, please go to: Applications are due: Close of Business, February, 1, 2011

Some travel support will be available to students who qualify. Priority will be given to students of diverse backgrounds. Students are encouraged to attend LPSC and the travel support includes registration for and participation in LPSC. For additional information, please contact Dr. Emily CoBabe-Ammann at This conference, the "Year of the Solar System" Undergraduate Planetary Science Research Conference is supported by the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, and the NASA Astrobiology Program. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

The next meeting of the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life (COEL) will be held March 2-4, 2011 at the Keck Center in Washington, D.C. COEL is the standing committee of the Space Studies Board that organizes and provides oversight of studies on research opportunities and programs on the origin and evolution of life in the universe, including NASA's astrobiology program. As usual, most of the committee's sessions are open to the community.

For more information, see or contact COEL's Senior Program Officer, David H. Smith ( [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Saturday February 19th, 2011 is the Deadline for collection of abstracts and travel grants applications for Origins 2011 in Montpelier, France, July 3-8, 2011. Come and be a part of this cutting edge conference as the ISSOL (International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life) and Bioastronomy communities provide oral and poster platforms of exchange with strong focus on young researchers and the global, diverse astrobiology community. For more information: [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Date/Time: Monday, February 7, 2011 11:00AM Pacific
Burckhard Seelig (University of Minnesota)

Abstract: Life on Earth today crucially depends on the workings of proteins. Current proteins are highly sophisticated polypeptides that exhibit intricate structures and facilitate a multitude of complex functions. Although the level of protein sophistication can be explained as a result of continuing Darwinian evolution from simpler predecessors, the origin of those early functional proteins is not well understood.

We are interested in studying potential scenarios of the emergence of those first primordial proteins. This presentation will describe an experimental approach to investigate the probability of finding functional proteins in mixtures of naive random peptides. Towards this goal, collections of several trillion different protein mutants are subjected to a procedure of selection and evolution in a test tube to isolate functional proteins. In one example, novel ATP binding proteins were identified that appear to be unrelated to any known ATP binding proteins. In a second study, novel enzymes were generated that can join two pieces of RNA together in a reaction for which no natural enzymes are known.

These results not only allow us to measure the occurrence of function in random protein assemblies but also provide experimental evidence for the possibility of alternative protein worlds. Extant proteins might simply represent a 'frozen accident' in the world of possible proteins. Alternative collections of proteins, even with similar functions, could originate alternative evolutionary paths.

For more information and participation instructions: [Source: NAI Newsletter]