Update on Astrobiology Program Leadership

Dear Astrobiology Community, 

I hope everyone is having a nice fall semester. It has been a great honor and privilege (and a lot of fun) to serve as co-director of the Georgia Tech Astrobiology Program, with the generous funding from Georgia Tech College of Sciences Sutherland Dean’s Chair over the past several years. I was fortunate to follow in the footsteps of Martha Grover’s excellent leadership of the program. I am now very happy to announce that Frances Rivera Hernández and Christopher Carr will be taking over as Georgia Tech Astrobiology Program co-directors going forward. I will stay on as co-director of the Georgia Tech Astrobiology Graduate Certificate Program.

I’m very proud of the many achievements of this program, including establishment of the Georgia Tech Astrobiology Graduate Certificate Program (with 29 recipients and counting!), GT Astrobiology Fellows Program (with 15 recipients to date), and the Fall Astrobiology Distinguished Speaker Series and Fall Social Event (with 3 highly successful events to date). I am also so impressed by the excellence in programming and organization of the annual ExplOrigins Symposium, the ExplOrigins early career group, and the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Seminar series. Even during the darkest days of the pandemic, this community has grown and thrived, thanks in large part to the incredible work of the early career astrobiology leaders at Georgia Tech. I am very grateful to all of you!

Wishing everyone a very healthy and happy holiday season. 


Jennifer Glass 

Associate Professor

Director, B.S. in Environmental Science Program
School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences & Biological Sciences (courtesy)
Georgia Institute of Technology
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Congratulations to Frank Rosenzweig and ICAR team!

Astrobiology News

Congratulations to Frank Rosenzweig and his new $6M NASA Astrobiology ICAR Center “Engine of Innovation: How Compartmentalization Drives Evolution of Novelty and Efficiency Across Scales” !

News story here

Billions of years ago, self-replicating systems of molecules became separated from one another by membranes, resulting in the first cells. Over time, evolving cells enriched the living world with an astonishing diversity of new shapes and biochemical innovations, all made possible by compartments. 

Compartmentalization is how all living systems are organized today — from proteins and small molecules sharing space in separate phases to dividing labor and specialized functions within and among cells.

Now, with $6 million in support from NASA, a team of researchers led by Georgia Tech’s Frank Rosenzweig will study the organizing principles of compartmentalization in a five-year project called Engine of Innovation: How Compartmentalization Drives Evolution of Novelty and Efficiency Across Scales.

It’s one of seven new projects selected recently by NASA as part of its Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research (ICAR) program. ICAR is embedded among NASA’s five Astrobiology Research Coordination Networks (RCNs). Rosenzweig is co-lead for the RCN launched in 2022, LIFE: Early Cells to Multicellularity.

“We’re excited by the prospect of exploring this fundamental question through the interplay of theory and experiment,” said Rosenzweig, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, whose team of co-Investigators includes biochemists, geologists, cell biologists, and theoreticians from leading NASA research centers: Jeff Cameron, Shelley Copley, Alexis Templeton, and Boswell Wing from the University of Colorado Boulder; Josh Goldford and Victoria Orphan from California Institute of Technology; and John McCutcheon from Arizona State University. Collaborating with them is Chris Kempes, professor at the Santa Fe Institute.

Rosenzweig is also eager to eventually collaborate with existing ICAR teams, such as MUSE, led by the University of Wisconsin’s Betül Kaçar, a former Georgia Tech postdoctoral researcher, and newly selected teams, such as Retention of Habitable Atmospheres in Planetary Systems, led by Dave Brain at University of Colorado Boulder.

Meanwhile, he plans to build upon Georgia Tech’s outstanding reputation in astrobiology, where a cluster of researchers, such as Jen Glass, Nick Hud, Thom Orlando, Amanda Stockton, and Loren Williams, among others, is engaged in a diverse range of work supported by NASA.

“This is just the latest chapter in a long history of excellence in NASA research at Georgia Tech, one written by my colleagues across the Institute,” Rosenzweig said.

News Contact

Jerry Grillo |  jerry.grillo@ibb.gatech.edu