NASA Astrobiology Institute: April 2012

NASA and the Library of Congress have announced the selection of David H. Grinspoon to be the first Baruch S. Blumberg NASA-Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. The chair, selected through an international competition, is named for the late Nobel Laureate and founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Baruch "Barry" Blumberg. Applications are solicited by the Library of Congress and reviewed by a panel jointly established by the Library and NASA. The prestigious position was created in November 2011.

Grinspoon will be in residence for a year beginning November 2012 at the library's scholarly research organization, the Kluge Center, in Washington. He is the curator of astrobiology in the Department of Space Sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Grinspoon is a well-known researcher in planetary science and the author of the award-winning book "Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life."

The NASA Astrobiology Program is pleased to announce the selection of four new NASA Postdoctoral Fellows:

Jose Aponte
Advisor: Jamie Elsila-Cook (NAI Goddard Center for Astrobiology Team)
Topic: "Assessment of Isotopic Ratios and Enantiomeric Excess of Neutral Compounds and Amines Found on Carbonaceous Chondrites"

Tammy Campbell
Advisor: Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy (Exobiology: Prebiotic Evolution)
Topic: "Non-Enzymatic Glycosylation of DNA Nucleobases to Develop Potentially Prebiotic Nucleic Acid Alternatives"

Natascha Riedinger
Advisor: Timothy Lyons (NAI Arizona State University Team)
Topic: "The Fate of Molybdenum and Its Isotopes in Deep, Oxide-rich Marine Sediments: Implications for the Mo Paleoproxy and Oxygen in the Ancient Ocean"

Erik Sperling
Advisor: Andrew Knoll (NAI MIT Team)
Topic: "Reconciling Ecological and Geochemical Triggers of the Cambrian Radiation"

More information about the NPP can be found at

Please join the NAI in welcoming its two newest international partners, the University of Sao Paulo (USP) Research Unit in Astrobiology (NAP-Astrobio) and the Canadian Astrobiology Network.

NAP-Astrobio, led by Jorge Ernesto Horvath and Douglas Galante, is a virtual organization reporting to the Research Provost of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Its purpose is to provide a structure for virtual scientific collaboration as well as the organization of meetings, seminars, and schools. It currently includes Sao Paulo state researchers as well as colleagues distributed countrywide and abroad. For more information see

The Canadian Astrobiology Network (CAN), led by Neil Banerjee and Lyle Whyte, is an organization of institutions and researchers across Canada who are actively engaged in astrobiological research. The CAN builds on the Canadian Astrobiology Training Program - a six-year ~$1.5M program funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The goal of CAN is to foster collaboration and integration between Canadian scientists and NAI partner institutions in the U.S. and around the world. For more information see

The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is accepting proposals to the 2012 NAI Director's Discretionary Fund (DDF).

Priority in selection for the NAI 2012 DDF will be given to proposals that are characterized by one or more of the following:

* Integrates the research of and realizes synergies among the current NAI teams
* Expands the scope of NAI research (and the NAI community) in innovative ways, accepting some risk in return for high pay-off potential
* Responds in a timely way to new scientific results or programmatic opportunities
* Develops connections between astrobiology research and other NASA science programs, particularly NASA's Earth Science Program - see,
* Directly supports flight programs, particularly through instrument development
* Addresses questions at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic aspects, particularly its societal implications;
* Promotes collaborations between US researchers and NAI's international partners;
* Uses funding particularly effectively, for example through leveraging or building on past investments;
* Supports early career investigators

Schedule: Proposals will be accepted at any time until June 30, 2012.

For more information: