One of the truly multidisciplinary sciences, the origin(s) of life field integrates the research of chemists, biologists, planetary scientists, astronomers, computer scientists, and others in the quest to answer the question "How did life on Earth begin?" (among others). The field is moving fast and ideas are changing quickly, as technology advances and we build upon previous ideas and investigations. For example, detailed observations of protoplanetary disks and detections of exoplanets (including ones in the habitable zones of their parent stars) are forcing astronomers to revise views on what makes a planet habitable. Additionally, terrestrial investigations related to understanding conditions required for the origin of life on Earth and the discovery of evidence that supports life very early in Earth's history are pushing back the timing of life's origin. Studies of life's chemistry and life in extreme environments are shedding new light on required metabolisms, too. Finally, missions to explore the possibility of life on other worlds are within a decade of launching, and soon we may have answers to the question "Is there life beyond Earth?".
This Gordon Research Conference will bring together a diverse set of investigators who are making cutting-edge advances in the field and will include members of the preceding GRS (Gordon Research Seminar), co-chaired by Dr. Rebecca Rapf (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and Ms. Elle Chimiak (California Institute of Technology). By asking the early career members of the GRS to report on their exciting science and by promoting active discussion among all participants, the entire week of research presentations will provide new insight on conditions required for life as we know it (and where), create dialogue among researchers that crosses career boundaries, and allow for mentoring and networking opportunities for the next generation of active researchers. Funding is being sought to allow partial travel and registration support for scientists who participate as presenters in either the GRC or the GRS.
The conference will consist of nine sessions, on the topics listed below. The conference chair is currently developing their preliminary program, which will include the names of the invited speakers and discussion leaders for each of these sessions. The preliminary program will be available by July 1, 2019. Please check back for updates.
- Keynote Session: Exoplanets and Life as We Know It
- New Ways to Build Habitable Planets
- Changing Views of the Chemistry of Life
- New Views on Metabolism and Molecules
- Life at Earth's Extremes
- Clues to Life on Early Earth
- Detecting Life on Other Worlds
- Upcoming Spacecraft Missions
- Selected Poster Presentations