EUROPEAN ASTROBIOLOGY INSTITUTE

In autumn 2017 an interim board was formed consisting of members and employees of the main stakeholders in this field in the European Research Area to prepare the launch of the EAI. One in-person meeting was held at the ESF office in November 2017 which was followed by several teleconferences in 2018. This Board will preside the EAI until the Management Committee is elected at the first General Assembly. The Interim Board Members are as follows (in alphabetical order of surnames):

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.

Dr. Patricia Cabezas, European Science Foundation

Dr. Patricia Cabezas is Science Officer with ESF Science Connect. With extensive international experience in the research, education and policy arenas, Patricia is a creative and energetic researcher who brings strong analytical skill and expertise to all programmes. Patricia is the administrative and scientific co-ordinator of several European programmes including FP7 Mars Analogues for Space Exploration (MASE) and Horizon 2020 Planetary Protection of Outer Solar System (PPOSS). In her role, she also devises interdisciplinary pan-European research proposals and scientific programmes, and provides support to peer-review processes.

Dr. Maurizio Falanga, International Space Science Institute

Maurizio Falanga received his university degree for Theoretical Physics and Astronomy at the University of Basel (1998) and his PhD degree in astrophysics from the University of Rome "La Sapienza" (2002). After his PhD he held various research positions in Europe, e.g., at CEA-Saclay, Paris, France. He was a member of the INTEGRAL Users Group of ESA, and is a member of different Science Working Group for future study mission's concept. He has also served on numerous Time Allocation Committees for orbiting X-ray missions. He is also member of the board of Directors for Astronomy & Astrophysics Journal, Swiss representative. Since 2009, he is Science Program Manager at the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern, Switzerland.

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. Wolf D. Geppert, Stockholm University, Sweden

Wolf Geppert is  mainly workin 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 

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.

Dr. Ján, Hrušák, Czech Academy of Sciences

 Dr. Jan Hrušák is  working at the Czech Academy of Sciences and since 1995 has  accumulated sizable experience in the fields of research infrastructures. Being a member of the Academy council (an executive body of the Czech Academy of Sciences) in 2001-2009, he has been supervising the department of European integration at the Academy headquarter. Since 2007, Jan Hrušák has been a member of the “Council for large research infrastructures”, an advisory body at the Ministry of Education, Youth and sports (MEYS), who itself is the authority for research in Czech Republic. In his position as Director general for research at MEYS (2010- 2011), Jan contributed to the drafting of the first Czech “Roadmap on research infrastructures” which was approved by the Czech government in 2010. Jan Hrušák is since 2008 Czech delegate to the European strategy forum on research infrastructures (ESFRI).

Prof. Kalle Kirsimäe, University of Tartu, Estonia

Kalle Kirsimäe is full professor in geology and Head Of Department at the University of Tartu. He also has been coordinating the European Astrobiology Campus since 2014.

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).

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).

Prof. Nigel Mason, Open University, 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.


Dr. Stephane Mazevet, CNRS, France

Stephane Mazevet is Director of the Laboratoire de l'Univers et de ses Théories (LUTH)


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.

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.

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.

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 foe the exobiology programme at CNES.

Dr. Nicolas Walter, European Science Foundation

Nicolas Walter is Corporate Science Officer in charge of supervising and developing the ESF Science Connect’s Peer Review Services, the European platform for the assessment of grant proposals. Nicolas 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. 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.