AbSciCon 2012 “Exploring Life: Past and Present, Near and Far” Hosted at Georgia Tech

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April 13, 2012 – Georgia Institute of Technology is hosting the fifth biennial Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon), April 16-20 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta. Loren Williams, Ph.D., professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Eric Gaucher, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Biology at Georgia Tech are the co-chairs of the conference.

AbSciCon attracts a community of scientists working in the multidisciplinary field of astrobiology – the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe – and highlights research supported by NASA's Astrobiology Program. 

NASA’s Astrobiology program addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and, if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe?

In striving to answer these questions and improve understanding of biological, planetary, cosmic phenomena and relationships among them, experts will discuss astrobiology research to help advance laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in space.

A record number of abstracts (more than 800) were accepted for this meeting, and the scientific program is packed with talks on current research. Among hot topics on the AbSciCon 2012 agenda are Mars exploration and the Mars Science Laboratory mission, current research on extrasolar planet habitability and latest results from analyses of extraterrestrial materials such as meteorites and comet dust samples. All plenary sessions and four selected technical sessions will be webcast live.

One highlight of the conference will be the final round of the NASA Astrobiology Program’s first annual Famelab Astrobiology science communication competition, April 16 at 7 pm.  Nichelle Nichols, known for her portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original “Star Trek” television series, will be hosting this public event which also will be webcast live. Other highlights include a welcome reception at the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech on Sunday April 15, 5-7 p.m., and conference dinner at the Georgia Aquarium on Wednesday April 18, 5-9 p.m.


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