MSU Chemistry Ph.D. candidate Benjamin R. Duffus (graduate student in Joan Broderick's lab) is attending the joint University of Hawaii (NAI team) and the Nordic Network for Astrobiology summer school July 2-16, 2012 in Reykjavik, Iceland. This years’ summer school is focused on the theme of "water, ice, and the origin of life in the universe."
Duffus is one of 47 post-graduate students to obtain a 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 evolution of the first organisms. The school represents a mix of lectures, discussion groups, tours and hands on activities. Lecture topics will include the origin of Earth’s oceans, observations of ices and water in space, star formation, ice records and climate on early Earth, water on Mars and Mars mission results, hot spot volcanism, water-rock interactions in extreme environments, as well as origins of life and deep sub seafloor biospheres. Highlights of the trip will include rock sampling and analyses from the Laugahraun and Fimmvörduháls lava fields, excursion to the Solheimajökull glacier, as well as other geothermally and culturally interesting areas in vicinity of Reykjavik. The program brings together students and researchers from a multitude of different science branches in astrobiology, making the school a truly multidisciplinary event.
MSU student heads to China this summer for international hot spring study.
BOZEMAN - A Montana State University standout who is enthusiastic about everything from research to goats to ballroom dancing is now part of an international team studying hot springs. Emma Murter of Hardin was one of two students in the nation chosen to travel to China this summer through a National Science Foundation program for undergraduate scholars. > READ MORE
Hillary Stacey, an undergraduate in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, placed in the top 5 at the NASA FameLab competition, held in March at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. FameLab is a communication platform for young astrobiologists in which competitors have three minutes to convey their research or science related concepts without the use of any visual aids or props. Hillary represented ABRC and MSU with spectacular enthusiasm. Considering her competition was all graduate students, her top 5 placement is even more impressive! http://www.youtube.com/MSUAstrobiology
Will Alexander, a post doc in the Minton Lab, presented a talk at the American Chemical Society Spring 2012 National Meeting and Exposition, “The Chemistry of Life,” held in San Diego, March 25-29. Will’s talk, “Production of a biomimetic Fe(I)-S phase on pyrite by atomic-hydrogen: Enhanced catalytic activity in the reduction of nitrogen,” was featured in the session titled, From Geochemistry to Biochemistry and the Origin of Life, and directly followed Günter Wächtershäuser’s session-opening talk. This work on pyrite also includes ABRC PIs Tim Minton and Robert Szilagyi. Will’s talk was well-received and garnered praise from Wachterhauser. Co-author’s include: Christopher J Fleming, Jianming Zhang, Matthew Hettick, Vanessa Murray, Li Che, David J Gardenghi.
Günter Wächtershäuser (left) Will Alexander (right)
Webelos "Alien Hunt" When Dr. Eric Boyd of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Montana State University goes searching for evidence of what extra-terrestrial life might look like, he heads to Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. On Saturday the 24th of September Dr. Boyd was joined by the Webelos of Packs 524 and 552 of Livingston Montana, with the goal of finding out what life might look like on another planet. > READ MORE
Dr. John Peters
Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Universe
Presented at the Southwest Montana Astronomical Society Winter Lecture Series
The eighth 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 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 http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/articles/abgradcon-2011/
MSU researcher samples Chinese hot springs as part of international collaboration
BOZEMAN -- Eric Boyd doesn't usually collect scientific samples next to people boiling eggs or soaking their feet, but he did on a recent expedition to southwest China. Part of an international team that's training the next generation of scientists while studying hot springs in the United States and China, the MSU researcher collected microorganisms from the largest hot spring complex in China - the Tengchong Volcanic Geological Park in Yunnan Province.
ABRC Co-PI, Eric Boyd, is a NASA Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Boyd's research in Yellowstone National Park, Robertson glacier in Canada and other extreme environments was funded by a competitive fellowship he received from the NASA Postdoctoral Program. http://nasa.orau.org/postdoc/about-fellows/boyd.htm
John Peters and Eric Boyd assisted in the organization of the “Paleobiology During the Genomics Era” workshop. The workshop was held at the J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego, CA, May 12 and 13, 2011 and was an all-access event utilizing the remote communication tools of NAI. Chris Dupont of JVCI as well as Ariel Anbar of Arizona State University were also main organizers of the event. ABRC’s Trinity Hamilton was an invited speaker. Workshop topics included:
Proterozoic molecular biomarkers, and insights into the origins of pharmacologically useful unconventional steroids
The phylogenomic roots of modern biochemistry
What can we possibly mean by “Last Universal Common Ancestor”
Molecular and isotope proxies for carbon and water in the past
Synthetic genes, genomes, and cells
Understanding the biological function of hopanoids
Genomic perspectives on the evolution of phytoplankton
Meta-omics of marine oxygen minimum zones: glimpses of an ancient ocean
This virtual meeting was the forth such Workshop Without Walls coordinated by NAI as was open to the world wide science audience via internet browser.
John Peters, ABRC director, and Everett Shock, Arizona State, gave special plenary talks on the eve of The First International Conference on Geomicrobial Ecotoxicology in Wuhan, China, May 30- June 2, 2011. Peters and Shock, along with Jizhong Zhou of the University of Oklahoma, were invited to give the opening remarks. MSU's Gill Geesey delivered a keynote address as well as served on the scientific advisory committee for the meeting; Eric Boyd also attended, lectured and conducted field research.
This inaugural conference provided an international forum on advances in geomicrobiology, molecular biology, molecular microbial ecology, biogeochemistry and ecotoxicology of soil, sediment and groundwater systems, and was instrumental in fostering interactions across research areas. A portion of the conference was devoted to comparing hot springs geomicrobiology of thermal environments in the south of China with thermal systems of Yellowstone National Park.
ABRC's Trinity Hamilton has been selected to attend the 2011 Santander Summer School and awarded a scholarship from NASA Astrobiology Institute covering travel costs, school fees, accommodation and meals are provided by NAI. Hamilton will attend a week of lectures entitled, "Mars Exploration: Unveiling a Habitable Planet," June 27-July 1 in Palacio de Magdalena, Santander, Cantabria, Spain. Hamilton is one of twenty-tree students selected to attend the summer school which includes lectures from international experts, round-table discussions, student projects, night-sky observations, and a field trip to a nearby site of astrobiological interest.The list of 2011 Astrobiology Summer School scholars supported by NAI, CIFAR and the Astrobiology Society can be seen at http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/UIMP/2011scholars
Astronomy Day 2011
ABRC co-sponsored Astronomy Day at the Museum of the Rockies on April 2nd. The day included free public events for all ages: planetarium shows, children’s activities, exhibits by MSU researchers, information about NASA missions and museum admission. New this year was the addition of educator workshops and an evening telescope viewing session. NASA astronaut Richard Arnold spoke about his March 2009 mission on space shuttle Discovery.
The event was very well attended with over 2400 visitors. The ABRC exhibit was a hit with mission information on Kepler and Cassini, astrobiology posters, Science of the Springs booklets, and a microscope station that amazed young and old.
John Peters, ABRC Director, was invited to speak at Origins of Life: the RNA World Revisited, a seminar organized by the Arizona State University Origins Project. In attendance were some of the top researchers in the field. The New York Times printed a story on the seminar:
The University of Hawaii branch of the NASA Astrobiology Institute hosted a winter conference focused on the theme of “water and the evolution of life in the cosmos,” from Monday January 3rd to Sunday January 16th 2011. The school provided 39 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. The program was truly multidisciplinary, bringing together graduate and post-doctoral students from the diverse scientific backgrounds comprising Astrobiology. Among those chosen to attend were Eric M. Shepard (post doc Joan B. Broderick laboratory), Craig C. Jolley (post doc Trevor Douglas laboratory) and Shawn E. McGlynn (former graduate student, John W. Peters laboratory).
The winter conference was a mix of lectures, discussion groups, tours and hands on activities. Lecture topics included the origin of Earth’s oceans, observations of ices and water in space, star formation, ice records and climate on early Earth, water on Mars and Mars mission results, hot spot volcanism, water-rock interactions in extreme environments, origins of life and deep sub seafloor biospheres, among other topics. Field trips to the observing facilities atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii Volcano’s National Park, and to the astrobiology facilities at the University of Hawaii were taken. Special highlights of the trip were a hike along active lava flows, observing a cometary body with the Gemini observatory atop Mauna Kea, and a cultural luau.
Photo: Shawn McGlynn, Craig Jolley, Eric Shepard, Alex Gordon (left to right).
MSU astrobiologist becomes Montana's first Fellow of the American Chemical Society
BOZEMAN--Tim Minton, a researcher and professor at Montana State University, has been named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, a prestigious honor given to professionals who make significant contributions to both science and society. Minton is the first ACS Fellow in the state of Montana. > READ MORE
Mark Young, Professor in the MSU Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, has just published an important journal article in the prestigious journal Science. The November 27, 2009 issue features his article "Variety the Splice of Life in Microbial Communities" with collaborator Jillian Banfield of the University of California, Berkeley. The article outlines how Bacteria and Archea are commonly thought to exist as populations of clones, but that new research demonstrates that there is lots of genetic exchange and variation. Young is a member of the MSU's Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Center, the Thermal Biology Institute, and the Center for Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials. Read the full abstract of the Science article or learn more about Young's research
Teachers invited to free MSU resource fair and NASA workshop Oct. 28 > READ MORE
Teachers from Around the World Examine Life in Extreme Environments Sixteen teachers from around the world convened at Montana State University (MSU) on July 13th for a weeklong class called “Examining Life in Extreme Environments: Insights into Early Earth and Beyond.”
Astrobiology Center a Winner in Overall Research Dollars Awarded > READ MORE
UM Native American Lab Snags Big Green
Energy Grant A one-of-a-kind research laboratory for Native Americans and other students has won a major grant. The goal? A new technology to produce eco-friendly ethanol, an alternative fuel.
> READ MORE
Astrobiology and Geology of the Moon highlight MSU's fall online courses for teachers > READ MORE
MSU chemist earns trip to Astrobiology School in Iceland > READ MORE
MSU Joins NASA Team Investigating the Universe > READ MORE