Astrobiology Fall Distinguished Speaker and Social Event on Sept 2!


Join us for the  GT Astrobiology Distinguished Lecture Fall 2022 on September 2, 2022!

Co-sponsored by GT Astrobiology and C-STAR.

11am-12:30pm Eastern: Public lecture “Contending with the Truly Alien: Agnostic Approaches to Life Detection” presented by Professor Sarah Stewart Johnson – watch online or in MoSE G21

4-6pm Eastern: Social event on MoSE Patio – trivia, t-shirts (in new color!), food, group photo!

Organized by 2022-2023 GT Astrobiology Fellows: Sharissa Thompson, Emmy Hughes, Tatiana Gibson, and Claire Elbon

GT Astrobiology Fall Welcome Event


Georgia Tech Astrobiology and ExplOrigins Community,

Please join us for the Fall 2021 GT Astrobiology Distinguished Lecture and Social Event!

event flyer

Title: Exploring Jezero Crater with the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

Presented by: Dr. Kathryn Stack-Morgan, JPL — Mars 2020 Project Scientist

Date/Time: Friday, September 10th, 2:30 PM–3:30 PM Eastern *note new time*

Location: virtual via BlueJeans (link: and on YouTube Live (

Following the virtual seminar, there will be an in-person social with refreshments beginning at 4:00 PM, located at the Molecular Science and Engineering (MoSE) outdoor patio, ground floor. We will also be taking a group photo at 4:15pm, so bring your GT Astrobiology shirts!

We hope to see you there!

Organized by Astrobiology Fellows, 2021-2022:

Becca Guth-Metzler, Christina Buffo, Tyler Roche, Taylor Plattner, and Jordan McKaig

Sponsored by GT Astrobiology and CSTAR



CSTAR Distinguished Lecture

Dragonfly: In Situ Exploration of Titan’s Organic Chemistry and Habitability

Dr. Elizabeth Turtle, PI of Dragonfly Mission

Thursday, November 19, 6:30 pm


Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is an Ocean World with a dense atmosphere, abundant complex organic material on its icy surface, and a liquid-water ocean in its interior. The joint NASA-ESA Cassini-Huygens mission revealed Titan to be surprisingly Earth-like, with active geological processes and opportunities for organic material to have mixed with liquid water on the surface in the past. These attributes make Titan a singular destination to seek answers to fundamental questions about what makes a planet or moon habitable and about the pre-biotic chemical processes that led to the development of life here on Earth.
NASA’s Dragonfly New Frontiers mission is a rotorcraft lander designed to perform wide-ranging in situ investigation of the chemistry and habitability of this fascinating extraterrestrial environment. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere and low gravity, Dragonfly can fly from place to place, exploring diverse geological settings to measure the compositions of surface materials and observe Titan’s geology and meteorology. Dragonfly will make multidisciplinary science measurements at dozens of sites, traveling ~150 km during a 3-year mission to characterize Titan’s habitability and determine how far organic chemistry has progressed in environments that provide key ingredients for life.
Speaker bio: Dr. Elizabeth (Zibi) Turtle is a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Her research combines remote-sensing observations and numerical geophysical models to study geological structures and their implications for planetary surfaces, interiors, and evolution, including tectonics and impact cratering on terrestrial planets and outer planet satellites, the thickness of Europa’s ice shell, Ionian mountain formation, and Titan’s lakes and weather. She is the Principal Investigator for the Dragonfly New Frontiers mission to Titan and the Europa Imaging System (EIS) cameras on the Europa Clipper mission, and has participated in the Galileo, Cassini, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. She earned her Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from Univ. Arizona and B.S. in Physics from MIT.

Loren Williams speaks at ATL Science Tavern

Public Events

GT Biochemistry Professor Loren Williams will be presenting “Voyage from the Gates of the Hadean – Origins of Life Research at Georgia Tech” at the Atlanta Science Tavern on Saturday February 22, 2020 at 7pm at Manuel’s Tavern. Details and RSVP here and below.


– This event is a production of the Atlanta Science Tavern.
– It is free and open to the public.
– Seating is on a first-come basis.
– RSVPs are not required to attend nor do they reserve seats.
– Doors open at 6:00 pm for early arrival.
– Gather for dinner by 7:00.
– The evening’s presentation gets under way around 7:45.
– Parking at Manuel’s has changed; refer to the note below for details.

Loren Williams, Professor
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Georgia Institute of Technology

The origin of life (OOL) took place around 4 billion years ago, soon after the Earth cooled in the Hadean Eon. Water-based chemistry converted small building blocks to large polymeric molecules. Polymers have incredible properties, including ability to form assemblies. Polymers can assemble into compartments, fibers, enzymes and motors and can store and transduce information.

We have models, that are testable by experiment, to explain how increasing complexity of polymers led to simple microbial cells. For nearly 3 billion years microbes ruled the planet. Complex plants and animals are relatively recent branches on the tree of life.

The OOL can be studied from the bottom up (using chemical principles) or from the top down (mining information from biological systems). In this presentation I will discuss progress from long-running efforts at Georgia Tech that use both top-down and bottom-up approaches to unravel the OOL.

Consideration of OOL forces us to frame and confront the most profound and vexing questions in science and philosophy. The OOL tests our understanding of geological, chemical and biological principles and unsettles our sense of place in the universe.

Life in the Cosmos: Past, Present, and Future: A Celebration of Astrobiology at Georgia Tech

Public Events

On September 23, 2017 the Life in the Cosmos symposium was attended by over 100 people.

While the symposium is now behind us, you can view select presentations from the program here.

Among the oldest questions conceived by humans are: What is the origin of life, and does life exist on other worlds? Georgia Tech will host a day-long public Symposium on Astrobiology and Society in Fall 2017 with sessions dedicated respectively to Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth and The Search for Life Beyond our Home Planet. Each session will be rounded out by a half-hour discussion led by a panel of distinguished scientists and humanists. Anticipating discoveries that will alter our very concept of life, astrobiology pushes us to reflect upon the meaning of “creation”, our place in it, and how to accommodate scientifically plausible alternatives to longstanding hypotheses and myths. While astrobiology is often presented to the public as ‘other worldly’, and can easily carry utopian visions of possibility and hope, the force of astrobiology is first and foremost terrestrial.  The aura of new worlds reminds us that our cosmic ‘other worldly discoveries’ above all concern the planet on which we live. Analysis of data from vent plumes in our solar system or in Pacific Ocean trenches show the ways our solar system has become a laboratory for better understanding our own planet. The symposium and related interviews with participants will be recorded and provide substrate for a documentary that focuses on how astrobiology drives research across science and the humanities, and sparks open and imaginative discussion about Big Questions, including, What is life? What is the value of different life forms? What is humankind’s destiny?

September 23, 2017

Over 100 registered for this sold out program. 


Paul Steffes, Professor, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Tech
“How the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has Evolved in the First Two Decades of the 21st Century”

Session A
Chair: Martha Grover, Professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Nick Hud, Regents Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia TechExploring the Origins of Life- From the Bottom Up”

Loren Williams, Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Tech
Exploring the Origins of Life- From the Top Down”

Eric Smith, External Professor, Santa Fe Institute 
Making Sense of Evolution in the Light of the Rest of Science”

Session B

Chair: Paul Sniegowski, Professor of Biology, University of Pennsylvania

William Ratcliff, Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Tech
Exploring the Origin of Multicellularity through Experimental Evolution”

Jennifer Glass, Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech
Small but Mighty– How ‘Good’ Bacteria Transformed our Planet”

Shelley Copley, Professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, UC Boulder
“Closely Related Species Follow Different Evolutionary Trajectories”


Session C
Chair: Kennda Lynch, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech

James Wray, Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech
Upcoming Astrobiological Opportunities at Mars”

Carol Paty, Associate Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Tech
Searching for Europa’s Hidden Ocean”

Amanda Stockton, Assistant Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Tech
High Impact Chemistry- How to Find Life on Other Planets”

Gongjie Li, Junior Fellow, Department of Astronomy, Harvard University
Searching for Habitable Exoplanets”

Religious and Scientific Perspectives on the Future of Life

Public Events

Religious and Scientific Perspectives on the Future of Life

Watch selections from the Symposium here. 

9:30 am – 5:30 pm
February 17, 2018
Candler School of Theology at Emory University,
1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322

This full-day event was organized in partnership with the Leadership and Multifaith Program and is co-sponsored by Columbia Theological Seminary. The symposium aims to generate a multifaith discussion among scholars, clergy, community leaders, and students about science, spirituality, and the future of life on earth and elsewhere. Speakers will address this theme from diverse disciplinary perspectives, including cognitive science, religious studies, ecology, ecotheology, ethics, and astrobiology. The symposium will be held on February 17, 2018, at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, located at 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322. Lunch is included, and a short reception will follow the final session. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Program Details

Registration & Coffee (8:30 – 9:00 A.M.) 

Keynote Address (9:30 A.M. – 10:45 A.M.)
Speaker: Arri Eisen, “What Happens When You Mix Monks, Nuns, and Scientists? The Emory Tibet Science Initiative”

Session 1: Life of the Mind-Body-Spirit (10:45 A.M. -12:15 P.M.)

Lunch (12:15-1:30 P.M.)

Session 2: Life Here on Earth (1:30 – 3:00 P.M.)

Session 3: Life in the Cosmos & Where We Go From Here (3:30 – 5:30 P.M.)