EUROPEAN ASTROBIOLOGY INSTITUTE
On 30 May 2019 the first (interim) Management Committee was elected at the first General Assembly in Liblice (Czech Republic). A full list of all EAI officers can be downloaded as a .pdf file here. Below you find presentations of the majority of the MC members.
Prof. Wolf D. Geppert, Stockholm University, Sweden
Wolf Geppert is mainly working on ionic processes in the interstellar medium and planetary atmospheres. in which field he co-authored over 100 papers. He also functions as the Director of the Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre and Coordinator of the Nordic Network of Astrobiology. He has been Vice Chair of the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership "European Astrobiology Campus" as well as the EU COST Action "Origins and Evolution of life in the Universe". He is also Member of the Organisation Committee of the IAU Commission "Astrochemistry" and on the Editorial Board of several science jounrnals.
Dr. Muriel Gargaud, University of Bordeaux, France
Muriel Gargaud is a an astrophysicist,working in the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, CNRS-Université de Bordeaux, France. Since 2012 she has been the President of the Societe Francaise d’Exobiologie, and, from 2014 to 2018 the chair of the EU COST Action "Origins and Evolution of life in the Universe" She is also the Chair of the IAU Working Group on Education and Training in Astrobiology, and the co-chief editor of the Encyclopaedia of Astrobiology, in which more than 350 renowned scientists from all over the world have participated.
Prof. John Brucato, INAF-Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetri, Firenze, Italy
John Robert Brucato is Primo Ricercatore (Associate Professor) at the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetry, Firenze Italy and Professor of Astrobiology at University of Florence Department of Physics and Astronomy. His main activity is focused on laboratory studies related to astrobiology with the objectives to simulate processes that are active in the Solar System and interstellar medium. He is involved in the analysis of Earth- and Space-based spectra in visible, near infrared and mid infrared ranges of Near Earth Asteroids and comets. Further expertise is based on the study of sample return space mission to a primitive carbonaceous near Earth asteroid (NEA). Moreover, he is involved in technological activities based on instrument design and calibration for robotic space missions. Finally, he involved in planetary protection policy, requirements and procedures.
Leaders of Scientific Working Groups
Dr. Jean-Pierre de Vera, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
Jean-Pierre de Vera is lead scientist and investigator of the Astrobiological Laboratories at the Institute of Planetary Research, DLR in Berlin since 2015. He has made important contributions to geobiology, microbiology, lichenology, mycology and astrobiology (studies on the 3 steps of Lithopanspermia, definition of traces / biosignatures of life for detection on Mars, habitability of Mars and other moons and planets, analysis and definition of terrestrial Mars analogue habitats in polar and alpine regions). He was Co-I of the “Lithopanspermia”-experiment on BIOPAN 6 /FOTON M3 (2007), Co-I of the “LIFE”-experiment on EXPOSE-E/ISS (2008-2009) and Co-I of the German Antarctic North Victoria Land Expeditions (GANOVEX X, XI and XIII) 2010, 2016, 2018 and is P-I of the space experiment BIOMEX on EXOPSE-R2/ISS (launched in July 2014, return June 2016) as well as the next ESA-space experiment BioSigN on the Exobiology Faciltiy on the ISS. Since 2016 he is vice president of the German Astrobiology Society (DAbG) and since 2018 he is Co-I of the CLUPI instrument on the ESA/ROSCOSMOS mission ExoMars to Mars. Jean-Piere de Vera leads the Working Group "Biosignatures and the Detection of Life beyond Earth".
Prof. David Dunér, Lund University, Sweden
David Dunér is Professor of History of Science and Ideas, at Lund University. His research concerns the development of science, medicine, mathematics, and technology during the scientific revolution and onward. He has also studied the bio-cultural coevolution of cognition and various topics within cultural semiotics and cognitive semiotics. He has co-edited the books The History and Philosophy of Astrobiology: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life and the Human Mind (2013); Human Lifeworlds: The Cognitive Semiotics of Cultural Evolution (2016); Astrobiology and Society in Europe Today (2018); Cognitive History: Mind, Space, and Time (2019), and a special issue of Astrobiology Journal, “The History and Philosophy of Astrobiology” (2012) and of International Journal of Astrobiology, “The History and Philosophy of the Origin of Life” (2016). In addition to this he has written a number of articles and chapters on the history and philosophy of astrobiology, recently on biosignatures in Biosignatures for Astrobiology (2019). David Dunér leads the Working Group "Historical, Philosophical, Societal and Ethical Issues in Astrobiology".
Prof. Thomas Henning, MPI for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany
Thomas K. Henning is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and leading the Planet and Star Formation Department. His research interests range from the formation of planets and their characterization to the laboratory study of pre-biotic molecules. Henning established the Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life (HIFOL) - a network of Heidelberg institutions to attack the question how matter transits from non-living to living systems. He is a Co-PI of the the JWST-MIRI instrument and is developing high-contrast imaging systems for ground-based telescopes to study planet-forming disks and exoplanets. Thomas Henning leads the Working Group "The Path to Complexity - From Simple Molecules to First Life".
Prof. Emmanuelle Javaux, University Of Liège, Belgium
Emmanuelle Javaux is a biologist from the University of Liège, with a PhD in Geology from Dalhousie University (Canada, 2000) and postdocs at Harvard University (department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, USA) and at ULiège (Department of Astrophysics). She is now full professor at ULiège and director of the ULiège’s lab “Early Life Traces & Evolution-Astrobiology”, in the Geology Department, whose presidency she has assumed for 7 years until 2016. She was also Francqui Foundation Research professor (2013-2016). She is president of the FNRS contact group «Astrobiology» and since 2014, a member of Royal Academy of Belgium. Her research focusses on the evolution of the Precambrian biosphere, from the earliest traces of life to the early evolution of complex life (eukaryotes), the characterization and fossilization of biosignatures useful for paleobiology and astrobiology, and the conditions for planetary habitability. She is also involved in ESA space mission Exomars 2020. Emmanuelle Javaux leads the Working Group "Evolution and Traces of Early Life and Life under Extreme Conditions"
Dr. Antonello Provenzale, CNR, Italy
Dr. Antonello Provenzale is Research Director at the Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources of the National Research Coucil of Italy. Research activities on climate-geosphere-biosphere interactions, planetary fluid dynamics and planetary habitability. Golden Badge Award of the European Geophysical Society in 1997. Invited professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure and at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, at the Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva (Israel) and at the University of Colorado in Boulder (USA). Coordinator of the EU H2020 project "ECOPOTENTIAL" (2015-2019). Author of more than 150 papers on international peer-reviewed journals (ISI). Author of dissemination books and articles. Antonello Provenzale is leading the Working Group "Formation and Evolution of Planetary system and Detection of Habitable Worlds"
Leaders of Activity Working Groups
Prof. Kalle Kirsimäe, University of Tartu, Estonia
Kalle Kirsimäe is full professor in geology and Head Of Department at the University of Tartu. He has been chairing the European Astrobiology Campus since 2014.
Prof. Miguel Mas Hesse, Centro de Astrobiología, Spain
PhD in Astrophysics at the Universidad Complutense, 1990. Presently Director of the Center for Astrobiology (CSIC-INTA) in Madrid, since June 2015. Scientific expertise in Extragalactic Astrophysics (Formation and evolution of massive stars throughout the history of the Universe), Stellar Astrophysics (properties of massive stars in binary systems) and technical coordination of different Space astronomical instruments (MINISAT-Legri, INTEGRAL-OMC, BepiColombo-MIXS, PLATO). 8 PhDs and 1 Master thesis supervised. Manager of the Spanish National Space Programme (2002-2006), Scientific advisor of the Spanish delegation at the European Space Agency Science Programme Committee (SPC, 2002-2017), coordinator of the Spanish node of the European Southern Observatory Science Outreach Network (ESON). Miguel Mas Hesse leads the Working Group on "Access to European Research Infrastructures and Analysis Facilities".
Prof. Nigel Mason, University of Kent, UK
Nigel Mason is a physics graduate of UCL BSc (1983) from which he obtained my PhD (1987) in atomic physics. Subsequently he was a SERC research fellow and a Royal Society University Research Fellow (1990-1998) before becoming a lecturer and then a Reader. I joined The Open University as a Professor in 2002. He was awarded DSc from University of London in 2002 and Professor of University of Innsbruck in 2008. In 2007 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Services to Science. Nigel Mason also functions as the coordinator for Europlanet. Nigel Mason leads theWorking Group "Funding and Policy".
Riho Motlep, University of Tartu, Estonia
Riho Motlep leads the Working Group "Education".
Julie Nekola Novaková, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Julie Nekola Novakova is a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology at the Charles University in Prague. She teaches a part of Introduction to Astrobiology at the university. In addition, she has been active in science outreach ever since adolescence, starting as an edutainer at the Techmania science center in Pilsen and lecturer at conventions, and moving to writing popular science articles for various Czech magazines, newspapers and websites, and organizing workshops, seminars and contests. She's also a prolific science fiction writer and translator. Julie Novaková leads the Working Group "Outreach, Media and Corporate Identity".
Host Organisation Representative
Dr. Nicolas Walter, European Science Foundation
Nicolas Walter is Chief Executive Officer of the ESF. He is also Executive Scientific Secretary of the ESF’s expert committee on space science policy (the European Space Sciences Committee - ESSC) and coordinator of two European Commission-funded projects (FP7 Mars Analogues for Space Exploration - MASE and Horizon 2020 Planetary Protection of Outer Solar System - PPOSS). Nicolas As a Science Officer serving ESF expert boards and committees, he has been involved in many science policy initiatives in the domains of European space, marine, polar and material sciences. He has also initiated and managed nine projects and studies financed by the European Commission and the European Space Agency.
Prof. Jesús Martínez-Frías, Instituto de Geociencias, IGEO (CSIC-UCM), Spain
Jesús Martínez-Frías is a CSIC planetary geologist and astrobiologist and Honorary Professor at the Dept. of BioEngineering and AeroSpace Engineering at University Carlos III of Madrid. He is leading the CSIC WG on Meteorites and Planetary Geosciences, director of the IGEO Lanzarote Geosciences Laboratory and founder and director of the Spanish Planetology and Astrobiology Network (REDESPA) His research interest is mainly devoted to the study of meteorites (mainly chondrites) and earth analogs, also considering geoeducation and geoethics and astrobioethics. He is Editor-in-Chief of Geosciences (MDPI)and has been Vice Chair of the UNCSTD, Chair of the IUGS-Commission on Geoeducation and, at present, he is the President of the International Association for Geoethics, IAGETH (IUGS and IUGG).
Remaining members of he Interim Board (2018-2019)
Dr. Karen Olsson-Francis, Open University, UK
My PhD was awarded from the University of Otago in New Zealand where I studied the physiology of microorganisms that live at high temperature and pH. After graduating, I stayed in New Zealand for a post-doctoral position where I studied methane mitigation strategies in ruminants and developed extensive experience working with methanogenic microorganisms. On my return to the UK, I was employed at The Open University, United Kingdom to investigate microbial survival in space, related to the BIOPAN VI and EXPOSE missions. In 2011, I was awarded a UK Space Agency Aurora fellowship, where I study potential geochemical bio-signatures for Mars. At present I am senior lecturer and I lead The Open University Astrobiology group, which investigating habitability and bio-signatures related to Mars and the icy moons, Europa and Enceladus. Karen-Olson Francis is also Deputy Leader of the Working Group "Evolution and Traces of Early Life and Life under extreme conditons"
Prof. Tilman Spohn, German Aerospace Centre
Tilman Spohn was Director of the Institute for Planet Research of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin-Adlershof. From 2007 onwards he has been engaged in the Helmholtz alliance »Development of Planets and Life« as its scientific coordinator.Prof. Spohn is a member of many committees: the American Geophysical Society (AGU) Committee on Public Affairs, 2004-2006; AGU Council 2004-2008; AGU Bowie Medal Committee, chair 2008 -2010; ESA High Level Science Advisory Committee (HISPAC) 2007-2010; ESA Space Science Advisory Committee, 2004-2010, chair until 2010; ESA Advisory Committee Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration (ACHME) 2007-2010; and the COSPAR Scientific Programme Committee, chair 2008-2010. From 2006 to 2008 he was president of the Planetary Science Section of the AGU.Furthermore, he is active as an editor for different scientific journals, e.g. for Planetology of Rev. Geophysics, 1997-2000. He himself has published 115 papers in various journals and books. Tilman Spohn is also Deputy Leader of the Working Group "Funding and Policy".
Dr. Ruth-Sophie Taubner, University of Vienna
Ruth-Sophie Taubner is a last year PhD-student at the University of Vienna. She is an Astronomer by training but works now in the field of microbiology. Her PhD thesis deals with the habitability of the icy moon Enceladus, more precisely with the possibility of methanogens thriving in its subsurface ocean. She is the current president of AbGradE and active in several other European early career networks. Ruth-Sophie Taubner is also Vice-chair of the European Astrobiology Campus.
Dr. Michel Viso, CNES, France
Veterinary by training, Michel Viso has joined the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) in 1985 as a candidate astronaut. he has participated in many space projects. In 2004, he became responsible for the exobiology programme at CNES. MIchel Viso is also Deputy Leader of the Working Group on "Biosignatures and the Detection of Life beyond Earth"
Prof. Frances Westall, CNRS, France
Frances Westall was born in Johannesburg, South Africa (1955). She grew up in the United Kingdom, and studied geology at the Universities of Edinburgh in Scotland and Cape Town in South Africa. She was a senior researcher at the NASA Johnson Space Center and the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston (USA) in the period after the announcement of possible traces of life in the martian meteorite ALH84001 by David McKay and his group before becoming the leader of the Exobiology Group of the CNRS in Orléans (France) in 2002. She was head of the French Exobiology society from 2006-2008. Specialising in the oldest traces of life on Earth, she is very involved in the 2018 international mission to Mars from the instrumental side (microscope/close-up imager) and from the science side as well.