Education and Outreach: May 2010

Dear colleagues, We are leading a group of early-career astrobiologists to update the first edition of the Astrobiology primer (Mix et al., Astrobiology, 2006). The astrobiology primer was created to provide a brief, but comprehensive, overview of the subject for those new to the field. It is aimed at graduate students, but we hope others will also find it useful. We would welcome your views on the proposed content. Please complete the survey linked to below. We are accepting completed survey through Tuesday, May 18th. The survey can be found at: An outline of the primer can be downloaded here.

Thank you in advance for your time and your voice. Sincerely, Shawn Domagal-Goldman and Katherine Wright, Co-Lead Editors, Astrobiology Primer, Version 2.0

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

The Life in the Universe curriculum is a unique set of resources, for elementary and middle school teachers, designed to bring the excitement of searching for life beyond Earth into the classroom. The SETI Institute, with funding from NSF and NASA, developed these award winning classroom materials with a team of educators, curriculum developers, and scientists. The Life in the Universe curriculum explores many facets of how scientists are trying to answer the questions: Where did life come from? What is its future? Are we alone?

In the Life in the Universe curriculum, students explore conditions that support life on Earth, and the possible existence of life elsewhere. The curriculum draws upon the experience of SETI scientists, whose research encompasses the full spectrum of Astrobiology: astronomy, life sciences, Earth sciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, and many other disciplines. The hands-on science activities were tested nationally in a variety of schools representing a broad range of students. Organized around story lines, these activities pose challenges that require students to investigate what is known about life on Earth.

For more information:

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

The NAI Research Scholarship Program offers research-related travel support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Applicants are encouraged to use these resources to circulate among two or more NAI Teams, or participating institutions of the NAI, however any travel that is critical for the applicant's research will be considered. Recent Award: Erin Yargicolu, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been selected to collaborate with researchers at NASA Ames Research Center and to participate in a field investigation of microbial ecosystems associated with deeply sourced faults in the North Anatolian Fault Zone. We congratulate Erin and wish her a successful trip. For more information:

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Applications are being accepted from astrobiology graduate students and postdocs for a winter school on the theme of "Water and the Evolution of Life in the Cosmos," in Hawaii, from Monday January 3rd to Monday January 17th 2011. This school will provide approximately 40 post-graduate participants with a broad but high-level introduction into astrobiology, emphasizing the origin and role of water in the emergence of life on our planet, and in the search for life elsewhere. It will be truly multidisciplinary, bringing together students and researchers from the diverse scientific backgrounds that contribute to our current understanding. Hawaii offers ideal resources for this training opportunity, from world-leading astronomical observing facilities through state of the art cosmochemistry simulation equipment to unique geologic environments in which extremophile life exists. Further information is available at

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

The NAI once again hosted the Student Poster Competition at the Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2010, held in League City Texas on April 26-29, 2010. Louis Lerman and Steve Benner from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME) provided a generous contribution in support of the competition, as they did for AbSciCon2008.

Thirty posters were submitted to the competition, and four cash prizes wereawarded.

The first place prize went to Jorge Nunez, a graduate student at Arizona State University, for his poster entitled The Multispectral Microscopic Imager (MMI) and the Mars Microbeam Raman Spectrometer (MMRS): An Integrated Payload for the In-Situ Exploration of Past and Present Habitable Environments on Mars. Jorges co-authors were J. D. Farmer (advisor), R. G. Sellar, S. Douglas, K. S. Manatt, M. D. Fries, A. L. Lane, Alian Wang, and D. L.Blaney.

Second place in the competition was awarded to Jennifer Glass, a graduate student at Arizona State University for her poster Signatures of Low-Mo Ancient Ocean May be Preserved in Cyanobacterial Genomes. Jennifers co-authors were Felisa L. Wolfe-Simon, A. T. Poret-Peterson and A. D. Anbar(advisor).

The third place winner was Eva Stueeken, a graduate student at the University of Washington, for her poster Selenium Biogeochemistry as a Planetary Deep-Time Redox Proxy. Evas co-authors were Julien Foriel, B. K.Nelson, and Roger Buick(advisor).

Fourth place in the competition was awarded to undergraduate student Dyana Lucas of the Native American Research Laboratory (NARL) at The University of Montana, for her poster Evidence for Local Adaptation in Extremophilic Crenarchaeal Systems: A SSV-Sulfolobus Study. Dyanas co-authors were Manny Ceballos, and Michael Ceballos(advisor).

Congratulations to these four outstanding students for theirachievement! [Source: NAI Newsletter]