Conference program arranged by day
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Plenary: Monday 13th August 11:45-12:45
Plenary: Mapping The Nearest Stars For Habitable Worlds
Monday 13th August, 11:45 - 12:45 in Ballroom AB
Thousands of exoplanets are known to orbit nearby stars and small rocky planets are established to be common. The ambitious goal of identifying a habitable or inhabited world is within reach. But how likely are we to succeed? We need to first discover a pool of planets in their host star’s “extended” habitable zone and second observe their atmospheres in detail to identify the presence of water vapor, indicative of surface liquid water, a requirement for all life as we know it. Life must not only exist on one of those planets, but the life must produce “biosignature gases” that are spectroscopically active and detectable with ground- and space-based telescopes. We need to be able to sort through a growing list of false-positive scenarios with what is likely to be limited data. What will it take to identify such habitable worlds, amidst a yet unknown range of planetary environments, with the observations and theoretical tools available to us?
About the speaker, Sara Seager:
Professor Sara Seager is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has pioneered many research areas in the characterization of exoplanets. Her present research focus is on the search for life by way of exoplanet atmospheric “biosignature” gases. Professor Seager works on space missions for exoplanets including as: the PI of the CubeSat ASTERIA; the Deputy Science Director of the MIT-led NASA Explorer-class mission TESS; and as a lead of the Starshade Rendezvous Mission (a space-based direct imaging exoplanet discovery concept under technology development) to find a true Earth analog orbiting a Sun-like star. Among other accolades, Professor Seager was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2015, is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow.
Plenary: Tuesday 14th August 11:45-12:45
Plenary: Oxygen Loss In Coastal Waters: Impact on Geochemical Cycles
Tuesday 14th August, 11:45 - 12:45 in Ballroom AB
Coastal waters throughout the world are rapidly losing oxygen due to human-induced eutrophication and global warming. This deoxygenation is dramatically altering microbial pathways and geochemical processes in waters and sediments with major consequences for marine life. Prominent examples of such anthropogenic coastal “dead zones” include the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River and the Baltic Sea. In my talk, I will discuss the impact of low oxygen in bottom waters on the cycles of key bioactive elements such as iron, phosphorus and sulfur using examples from modern coastal environments. I will specifically focus on processes at redox interfaces in sediments and how microbial communities in such transition zones may interact with and impact their environment. Examples will include the role of microbes in driving mineral dissolution and precipitation reactions in sediments and their role in preventing the escape of the greenhouse gas methane, the nutrient phosphorus and highly toxic hydrogen sulfide from sediments to overlying waters. I will also highlight recent discoveries that were made by applying a range of microbial and geochemical analyses, including synchotron-based X-ray spectroscopy, at high spatial resolution to coastal sediments. The implications of these findings for our understanding of the controls on water quality in coastal dead zones and their potential for recovery from low oxygen will also be discussed.
About the speaker, Caroline Slomp:
Caroline Slomp is Professor of Marine Biogeochemistry at the Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on improving the quantitative understanding of the cycling of elements that are important to life in marine environments. In her research group, field and laboratory work are typically integrated with modeling. The central theme is the assessment of the response of ancient and modern environments to perturbation. Low oxygen marine systems are currently a key focus.
Plenary: Wednesday 15th August 11:45-12:45
Plenary: Transforming Academia: Advancing Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in the Geosciences
Wednesday 15th August, 11:45 - 12:45 in Ballroom AB
Efforts to diversify geosciences faculty over the recent past have led to modest advances; however, transformational change has been elusive. This talk will discuss an innovative new approach that advances a framework for equity grounded in an intersectional understanding of both identity and social structures. The centerpiece and innovation is an immersive ADVANCE faculty development seminar, which involves a 60-hour immersion experience for administrators and influential faculty, provides a lens through which institutional practices can be evaluated, and catalyzes participants to alter policies and practices that form barriers to the inclusion of women and others from under-represented groups. Ambitious Action Plans emerge from a comprehensive understanding of the challenges to recruitment, retention and success of faculty, and the development of cohorts helps efforts to scale up and out. The seminar is embedded within a program to support implementation, monitoring and integration of Action Plans. The approach has been effective at shifting personally held ideologies and also at promoting behavioral change as well as institutional/structural transformation. Outcomes of the ADVANCE seminar include significant institutional changes around hiring practices and reward structures. However, broader barriers exist that cannot be removed one institution at a time. These will challenge us to examine our profession as a whole and imagine a transformed future that is welcoming and affirming to individuals from all marginalized groups and offers everyone an equitable and socially just academic environment.
About the speaker, Tuba Özkan-Haller:
Tuba Özkan-Haller is a professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Advancement at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University (OSU). She also holds a joint appointment at OSU’s School of Civil and Construction Engineering. Her research program focuses on the prediction of waves, circulation, and bathymetric change along coastlines. She is a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and has served as member or chair of several National Academy committees. More recently, she has also become involved in furthering diversity, inclusion, and social justice in STEM academia through the OREGON STATE ADVANCE program and has co-facilitated several of the signature immersion summer seminars
Plenary: Thursday 16th August 11:45-12:45
Plenary: Exploring Deep Microbial Life In The Planetary Interior: What Are The Limits of Habitability?
Thursday 16th August, 11:45 - 12:45 in Ballroom AB
Over the past two decades, our understanding of the deep subseafloor biosphere has significantly expanded through scientific ocean drilling. Since the first deep biosphere- dedicated ODP Leg 201 off Peru in 2002, numerous microbiological and biogeochemical studies at various oceanographic locations have been accomplished, demonstrating that microbial cells are present almost everywhere beneath the ocean floor. These results also indicate that deeply buried microbial communities have long persisted and survived under the geophysically and energetically challenging environments within the Earth’s interior over geologic time. Numerous molecular (DNA, lipids, enzymes) ecological studies revealed that subseafloor deep microbial communities consist mainly of previously uncultured and hence physiologically unknown species and play significant ecological roles in biogeochemical element cycling. It means, deep subseafloor life may have uniquely adapted to and evolved within the dark and low-energy interface between surface and subsurface on the planet Earth. Recent technological developments are underpinning the continuous expansion of our scientific knowledge, especially for exploring the limits of planetary habitability in the Earth interior. For example, during IODP Expedition 329, the occurrence of dissolved oxygen and aerobic microbial communities was discovered in the entire sediment column of the ultra-oligotrophic South Pacific Gyre, indicating no limits to microbial life in sedimentary environments of the open ocean. In addition, deep riser-drilling during IODP Expedition 337 demonstrated that indigenous microbial communities occur in ~2.5 km-deep coal-bearing sediments and play important biogeochemical roles in carbon cycling. Furthermore, a recent IODP Expedition 370 aims to understand the temperature limit of the deep subseafloor biosphere in the protothrust zone of the Nankai subduction system, and the important mission of super-clean microbiological sampling was successfully accomplished. These efforts and challenges of international research communities to explore the biosphere frontiers will elucidate how the deep biosphere coevolve with the planet Earth and how the Earth’s habitability will respond to some drastic environmental changes that may occur at the planetary scale in the near to deep future.
About the speaker, Fumio Inagaki:
Dr. Fumio Inagaki is a geomicrobiologist whose research focuses on the deep subseafloor biosphere. He is the deputy director of the Research and Development Center for Ocean Drilling Science and the Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research, both at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).
Plenary: Friday 17th August 11:45-12:45
Plenary: Origin and Early Evolution of Terrestrial Volatiles
Friday 17th August, 11:45 - 12:45 in Ballroom AB
Understanding the origin and evolution of life-supporting volatile elements (water, carbon, nitrogen) on Earth has been an evolving and debated area of research since the antiquity. Thanks to the analyses of the modern atmosphere and hydrosphere, of mantle-derived samples and of meteorites, a consistent picture is emerging. Several regions of the solar system contributed organics and water to the forming Earth at different periods of time. These contributions were sequenced by the drift of planetary bodies outside the Earth's forming region. Stable isotope ratios suggest that volatiles were primarily sourced by planetary bodies from the inner solar system. Recent measurements by the European Space Agency Rosetta probe on the coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko indicate that comets also contributed volatiles to the surface of our planet. Using this data together with recent high-precision analyses of noble gases from the deep mantle, I shall discuss the sources of volatile elements and the timing of their delivery to the proto-Earth.
About the speaker, Bernard Marty:
Bernard Marty is a Professor of geochemistry at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie, Université de Lorraine, and researcher at the Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques (CRPG, UMR 7358 CNRS-UL), Nancy, France. His is interested in the geochemistry and cosmochemistry of volatile elements, notably stable isotopes and noble gases. Topics include stable isotope variations in the solar system, processes of planet formation, the origin(s) of terrestrial water and other volatiles, the geodynamical cycle of these elements, and the evolution of the atmosphere from the Hadean eon to Present. Besides mantle geochemistry, Bernard is involved in space missions such as Stardust (return to Earth of cometary grains), Genesis (analysis of the isotope composition of the solar wind), Rosetta (in situ analysis of cometary volatiles), and others. Bernard gained a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Toulouse, France, and a Doctorat d’Etat in geochemistry at Université Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris. Bernard was co-chair of the Meteoritical Society meeting in Nancy in 2009, and chair of the Goldschmidt Conference in Prague in 2011, serving as EAG Goldschmidt Officer from 2009 to 2014. He was EAG Vice-President in 2015-2016 and currently serves as EAG President for 2017-2018.