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Education and Outreach: August 2011


The Department of Geology at Kansas State University invites applications for a full-time tenure-track position in Environmental Geobiology, at the rank of Assistant Professor. Compensation is based on the nine-month academic year, although two months summer salary may be negotiated for up to two years. A competitive startup package is available. The position will start no later than August 2012 and may begin earlier if mutually agreeable.

Review of applications will begin on September 15, 2011 and continue until the position is filled.

For more informaiton: http://www.k-state.edu/geology/department/geobioposition.html

The Extreme Chemistry group (X-chem) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has an immediate opening for a Postdoctoral Research Staff Member in the area of first-principles computational modeling of astrobiological phenomena for a project recently funded by the NASA Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology program. The primary research thrust of this position involves molecular dynamics (MD) modeling designed to identify and understand chemical reactions and mechanisms of prebiotic materials in condensed phases under shock compression. The successful candidate will help elucidate the necessary thermodynamic and chemical conditions for the formation of species such as amino acids and lipids during impact events from comets and asteroids on early Earth. The technical goals of this work are to create computational models that will allow for the study of long time-scale reaction dynamics of astrobiological materials under high pressures and temperatures.

Please see https://careers.llnl.gov/ (posting #009956) for more information and to apply.

Origin of Life Research Award

An award of $50,000 is being offered for the best original proposal pertaining to the study of the origin of life on Earth. Multiple awards may be made. "Life" is defined as a self-sustained chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution. The proposal should take into account the conditions, materials, and energy sources believed to have existed on the prebiotic Earth. Submissions should provide a cogent hypothesis for how life first arose, including its plausible chemistry, and for how primitive life could have evolved to modern biological cells, including the present genetic material and metabolism. Submitters are encouraged to offer unconventional hypotheses that nonetheless can be subject to experimental validation. Submissions will be accepted through December 31, 2011.

For further information and instructions on how to submit a proposal see http://www.originlife.org/ .

A new Astrobiology Centre will be started at Stockholm University this autumn. It will be a virtual Centre (with no separate administration) and comprise scientists engaged in physics, astronomy, geology, geochemistry and molecular biology. The centre will be carrying on the activities of the Astrobiology Graduate School at Stockholm Graduate School on a broader and larger scale. Although the training activities will continue, the scope of the Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre will encompass multidisciplinary science projects, outreach activities and co-operation with other astrobiology institutions. Four post-docs and 5 graduate students will be employed by the centre through funding from the Stockholm University Faculty of Sciences. Common interdisciplinary scientific projects of SU-ABC include:

* Siderophores as tool for dissolving, transport and reduction of crystalline material and properties of the organisms that produce them
* Serpentinisation on Earth and other objects in the solar system as a source for molecular hydrogen
* To find life at large distances - biomarkers
* Polyaromatic hydrocarbons in space
* Negative ions in the Universe
* Formation of complex molecules in the interstellar medium

The Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre will be officially launched on 2 September 2011. A programme of the opening day can be found here.

The 8th annual Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) was held at Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman, MT from June 5-8, 2011. AbGradCon is unique in that it is organized by and targeted toward graduate students and postdocs, no more than three years from receiving their PhD, from across the sub-disciplines of astrobiology. This year's conference organization required two years of collaboration between students in Colorado and Montana, with great results.

In total there were 72 attendees at AbGradCon, including 8 international attendees from 7 different countries (Australia, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Scotland). The disciplines of the attendees were well distributed across astrobiology, with representation from the geological sciences (20 attendees), biological sciences (19), chemistry (15), astronomy and physics (12), and engineering/other (6). All attendees presented their work either with a 12-minute talk or a two-minute lightening talk and a poster.

The scientific program for AbGradCon 2011 consisted of two full days of talks, broken into eight different sessions on fairly broad topics, followed by afternoon poster sessions. All of the talks were broadcast live online in an Adobe Connect Meeting Room and recorded, and are now available on the conference website. The conference program also included three different career development activities. The first was "NASA Night", an informal and very popular presentation and discussion by Dr. Shawn Domagal-Goldman (NASA HQ) about opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, research grants and programs, missions, and other opportunities with NASA. Second, the invited speaker for the conference banquet, Dr. Kevin Hand (JPL), gave an inspirational talk about his career path titled "Adventures in Astrobiology: A Random Walk to a Known Goal." The third career development opportunity was the "Europa Collaborative Session." This was an informal presentation by Dr. James Kinsey (WHOI) titled "Analogues for Astrobiological Exploration in the Earth's Deep Oceans with the National Deep Submergence Facility Vehicles: Current ASTEP Programs and Future Opportunities". The feedback from conference participants was that these events were very useful for learning about opportunities, as well as for starting conversations with each other about future research and outreach projects.

The pool of candidates for the NAI/APS 2011 competition was the largest we have ever experienced. Typically six to seven selections are made annually, however for 2011 twelve young investigators were selected for the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology.

Congratulations go to:

Please join us as this year's students present the results of their summer's research.

The 2011 Summer Undergraduate Internship in Astrobiology is a ten-week internship in astrobiology held each year at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Date/Time: Thursday, August 11, 2010 11:00 AM Pacific

Presenters:

Wade Dauberman - Water on Mars: Measurements of H2O, HDO, and D/H using CRIRES at VLT
Natasha Batalha - Analyzing Spectra of a Transiting Exoplanet
Laura Beckerman - Analysis of Carbon Isotopes of Mars Analog Materials

For more information and participation instructions: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/seminars/detail/193