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Frequently Asked Questions

about astrobiology...

Some Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some answers to questions about life concerning research and education in astrobiology.

1: What is "astrobiology"?
Astrobiology is a branch of science concerned with the origin and evolution of life on Earth, and the possible variety of life beyond Earth [1,2].

Astrobiology is different from "exobiology", which was a term coined by the Nobel Prizewinner biologist, Joshua Lederberg in 1960 [3]. Strictly speaking, exobiology is solely concerned with life beyond Earth. In contrast, many astrobiologists study the early history of the Earth and its life. This research informs us about the habitability of planets within the Solar System, such as on Mars or Europa, or planets around other stars.
2:  I'm a student; how can I get involved in astrobiology research?
An Astrobiology Ph.D. program is offered at the University of Washington. Details here.
3: I'm about to get a Ph.D. Do you have postdoc positions available?
Yes. Prof. David Catling and some other professors in the UW Astrobiology Program are advisors in NASA's Postdoc Program. See here for more info on these opportunities and eligibility.

[1] Catling, D. (2013) Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press.
[2] Staley, J. (2003) Astrobiology, the transcendent science: The promise of astrobiology as an integrative approach for science and engineering education and research. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 14, 347–354.
[3] Lederberg, J. (1960) Exobiology: Approaches to life beyond the Earth, Science 132, 393-400.

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