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Education and Outreach: January 2012


The Deep Life Directorate of the Deep Carbon Observatory (sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) will investigate the microbiology of the rock-hosted subsurface biosphere. Microbial communities contained within rock-hosted subsurface environments may be important conduits for the exchange of carbon and energy between the deep Earth and the biosphere- yet surprisingly little is known of their extent, their identities, or their activities. The research specifically addresses microbial carbon transformations in environments influenced by high hydrogen fluxes and abiogenic production of organic molecules. The research team consists of 17 scientists from 7 countries and contains both field and laboratory components. The Directorate seeks candidates for multiple Postdoctoral positions to work within this cooperative framework.

Sign up for FameLab Astrobiology--Houston!

We need you in Houston! Sign up today to participate in FameLab Astrobiology at the Lunar and Planetary Institute on January 13th. FameLab is a science communication competition that focuses on building your skills with workshops on good communication practices. The workshop in Houston will be led by the Co-Directors of the National Association for Interpretation. Competitors will present a three-minute piece on their research or an astrobiology-related topic of their choosing. Those topping the competition in Houston will go on to the final at AbSciCon in April...the winner there will go on to the FameLab International final in the UK in June. Lodging and $500 in travel support are available--sign up today at http://astrobiologyfamelab.arc.nasa.gov/. Contact daniella.m.scalice@nasa.gov with any questions.

The Canadian Astrobiology Training Program (CATP) is the first Canadian cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral training program in Astrobiology and is a NSERC-funded Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program (CREATE) (2009-2015) located at McGill University, McMaster University, University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, and the University of Winnipeg. CATP by its very nature will be accomplished through collaborative and integrative research approaches containing elements of geology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, microbiology, and robotics. CATP trainees (~70 graduate & undergraduate students, PDFs over the next 5 years) will be exposed to innovative research and training approaches, combining fieldwork at unique Canadian analogue sites, including those in the high Arctic, with laboratory work at cutting edge analytical facilities at participating university, government, and industry partners.

Harvard University is launching a research project to study living systems within its Harvard Origins of Life Initiative and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. The work will be done under the direction of Dr. Juan Perez-Mercader, PI for this project, and brings together approaches for modeling life by using a combined transdisciplinary approach involving Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Computer Science and Engineering. We invite applications for a number of Research Associate and Postdoctoral positions in the areas of Origin of Life, Information Theory, Synthetic/Artificial Life, Physics and Chemistry of Out-of-Equilibrium Phenomena and Chemical Engineering.

NASA is accepting applications from science and engineering post-docs, recent PhDs, and doctoral students for its 24th Annual Planetary Science Summer School, which will hold two separate sessions this summer (18-22 June and 16-20 July) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. During the program and pre-session webinars, student teams will carry out the equivalent of an early mission concept study, prepare a proposal authorization review presentation, present it to a review board, and receive feedback.

By the end of the session, students will have a clearer understanding of the life cycle of a space mission; relationships between mission design, cost, and schedule; and the tradeoffs necessary to stay within cost and schedule while preserving the quality of science. Applications are due March 28, 2012. Partial financial support is available for a limited number of individuals. Further information is available at: http://pscischool.jpl.nasa.gov

Space School

The international community is invited to participate in our academic activities of inspiration in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), that take place in Colombia and the USA. These activities will be held on the following dates in 2012: March 26 to April 8, June 11 to June 24, June 25 to July 8, October 1 to October 14, November 26 to December 9. For more information on costs and how to apply in this link: http://www.spaceschoolcolombia.org or email alexandro.gonzalez@me.com

Harvard University is launching a research project to study living systems within its Harvard Origins of Life Initiative and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. The work will be done under the direction of Dr. Juan Perez-Mercader, PI for this project, and brings together approaches for modeling life by using a combined transdisciplinary approach involving Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Computer Science and Engineering. We invite applications for a number of Research Associate and Postdoctoral positions in the areas of Origin of Life, Information Theory, Synthetic/Artificial Life, Physics and Chemistry of Out-of-Equilibrium Phenomena and Chemical Engineering.

It is anticipated that the Research Associate positions will be for at least 3 years with continuation contingent upon strong performance. Each of the Postdoctoral positions is awarded for one year with an option to renew for a second year dependent upon strong performance. All positions are available immediately.

The summer school "Water, Ice and the Origin of Life in the Universe", which will be held in Iceland from 2 to 15 July 2012, aims to give participants a thorough high-level introduction into the role of water in the evolution of life in the cosmos, starting from formation of water molecules in space and ending with the evolution of the first organisms. It will bring together students and researchers from a multitude of different science branches, making it a truly multidisciplinary event. The event will be organized by the Nordic Astrobiology Network together with the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Field studies on the colonization of lava fields and glaciers will complement the lectures. The program of the summer school includes:

* lectures by internationally leading scientists covering a broad range of subjects in astrobiology
* investigation of colonization of volcanic rocks and glaciers with in-situ life detection techniques
* excursions to geologically and biologically interesting sites (lava caves, new lava fields)
* 2 poster sessions for students and early career scientists
* participant-led discussions about hot topics

The event is intended for graduate students and early career scientists (up to 5 years after their first Ph. D. in a related field) in fields related to astrobiology. Undergraduate students can also apply, and will be accepted under exceptional circumstances. The event is open to applicants from all nationalities.

Detailed information about the summer school and the application procedure (deadline 31 January 2012) can be found at http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/Iceland2012 .

Successful applicants accepted by the Scientific Committee as participants will receive free lodging, meals and excursions, but will have to organize financial means for their travel to and from Iceland themselves. Course credit awards (ECTS points) for undergraduate and Ph. D. students will be applied for by the course organizers.

The deadline for the 2012 MIRS Program is March 15, 2012.

The AB Program Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS) program, administered by the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation, provides funded opportunities for researchers from minority institutions to initiate partnerships with researchers in the field of astrobiology. Past MIRS Scholars have worked with researchers at UCLA, NASA Ames, the University of Hawaii, JPL, the University of Wisconsin, NASA Goddard, and Portland State University.

For more information: http://www.uncfsp.org/cms/default.aspx?page=program.view&areaid=12&contentid=811&typeid=NAIMIRS53345

Application Deadline: February 1, 2012

The American Philosophical Society and the NASA Astrobiology Institute have partnered to promote the continued exploration of the world around us through a program of research grants in support of astrobiological field studies undertaken by graduate students, postdoctoral students, and junior scientists and scholars.

The Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology supports field studies in any area of interest to astrobiology by graduate students, postdocs, and early-career scientists and scholars who are affiliated with U.S. institutions. Grants may be used for travel and related expenses, including field equipment, up to $5,000. Applications will be reviewed by a committee that includes members of the NAI, the APS, and the wider science community as needed. Recipients will be designated as Lewis and Clark Field Scholars in Astrobiology.

Additional information, including the application forms and instructions, is available at the APS's Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology website: http://www.amphilsoc.org/grants/astrobiology

Ph.D. opportunities are available in the molecular geomicrobiology of the deep biosphere in the lab of Matt Schrenk at East Carolina University (North Carolina, USA). The research involves the characterization of high pH (>10), hydrogen and methane-rich ecosystems associated with the serpentinization of ultramafic rocks from the deep Earth and involves multi-disciplinary, international research projects in Canada, Italy, and California. These projects focus on advancing our understanding of the ecology and evolution of microbial communities in the deep biosphere using both molecular and culture-based approaches. Research combines bioinformatics analyses of (meta-) genomic and transcriptomic data with field work and laboratory characterization of novel extremophiles. Applicants with a background in Biology, Earth Sciences, Oceanography, or related disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Applications for the Ph.D. program in Biology at ECU are due April 1, 2012 (http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cas/idpbs/admission.cfm). Please contact Matt Schrenk (schrenkm@ecu.edu) for further information.

The SETI Institute is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2012 REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program in Astrobiology and Planetary Science. Undergraduate students in fields such as astronomy, biology, geology, chemistry, and physics are invited to apply to spend 10 weeks in the San Francisco Bay area working on a scientific research project in the field of astrobiology or planetary science. Students receive a stipend, travel, and living expenses. Applications are due by February 1, 2012. For more information, visit http://www.seti.org/reu or contact Cynthia Phillips, phillips@seti.org, 650-810-0230.