AbGradCon (Astrobiology Graduate Conference) provides a unique setting for astrobiologically-inclined graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, to collaborate, and to network. AbGradCon 2021 will mark the 17th year of this conference – each time in a different place and organized by a different group of students and postdocs, but always with the original charter as a guide. As AbGradCon 2021 will be the first edition to take place in Asia (hosted at ELSI in Tokyo, Japan), our conference theme will be “International Collaboration”. These meetings have been wildly successful both when connected to AbSciCon, and as stand-alone conferences. Since it is organized and attended by only graduate students, post-docs, and selected undergraduates, AbGradCon is an ideal venue for the next generation of career astrobiologists to form bonds, share ideas, and discuss the issues that will shape the future of the field. Our stable funding source is from the NASA Astrobiology Program, while auxiliary funding sources vary widely. For more information, please visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or send us an email at abgradcon(at)gmail(.)com.
Point of contact: Kristin Johnson and Tony Z. Jia
- I am an undergraduate from India and really interested to organize AbGradCon here. How can we reach out for funding and arrangements?
The organization and involvement in AbGradCon can be most accurately described as a relay race, passing the baton between organizers. If you are interested in organizing an AbGradCon, you should attend an AbGradCon event and make connections with current and past organizers first. The site selection process usually begins at the AbGradCon meeting itself and involves a presentation about each proposed site to former organizers and attendees, who vote for their preferred site. For a non-US-based site, we would recommend proposing participation 2-3 years in advance of the conference date, to allow for organization. After site selection, it is necessary to prepare a proposal to the NASA Astrobiology Program, solicit other organizations for monetary support (in the case of AbGradCon 2021, we have secured commitments from a number of organizations in Japan and other parts of the world), and make logistical arrangements (such as securing a venue, organizing travel procedures, etc.).It may take up to 3 years from conception to implementation. For this reason, we really encourage international AbGradCon organizing team chairs to be postdocs or very senior PhD students, due to the significant difference in organizational workload compared to a US-based AbGradCon.
- Can I apply now? Is virtual participation possible?
There is no virtual meeting currently, but we are in the process of planning an in-person meeting in Tokyo (September 14-17, 2021). However, in the event that a full in-person meeting is not possible, we are prepared to implement some virtual format activities. The application for participating is anticipated to be open from December 2020 to March 2021. However, even if a virtual program is implemented, you must apply in order to attend. Please check the abgradcon.org website after December for the open application.
- Can we attend AbgradCon without presenting a poster?
No. One of the goals of this meeting for students and postdocs who may not have had the opportunity to present at a professional conference before, a low-pressure / low-stress opportunity to practice talks and poster presentations. As such, a presentation of some type is a requirement.
- How do you select the attendees?
Attendees are selected based on the quality of their submitted abstracts. An abstract must be submitted to be considered for acceptance to the conference. These abstracts are evaluated based on scientific merit, appeal, literacy, novelty, and soundness. Of course, a submitted abstract must be related in some way to astrobiology and ones that can convey their relevance to Astrobiology well are evaluated by the judges more favorably. However, this does not preclude attendees who do not have much experience in astrobiology from attending, as astrobiology is a very broad field that encompasses a variety of subdisciplines, such applicants are encouraged to consider carefully and argue effectively what they bring to an Astrobiology-themed meeting.