Past Events

Virtual AbGradE’21, September 2-3 2021

Following the success of our first virtual symposium last year, AbGrade’21 was our second all-virtual symposium, just before the EANA 2021 virtual conference.

With participants from all over the world, we are happy to see how international our meetings are becoming!

The event included 18 talks from early-career researchers, 4 keynote talks from representatives of national and international initiatives and institutions in astrobiology, and many chances to network.

This event also saw the introduction of our new community Microsoft Teams working space! Click here to learn more about it.

EANA International Spring School, May 17-21 2021

EANA’s first-ever spring school, all about hydrothermal vents!
During the events 6 talks were given in 5 days followed up by a Q&A session with questions from the attendees.

You can watch the event’s talks and Q&A session here

Space Law & Governance Virtual Meeting, May 2021

Our first-ever early-career meeting on Space Law was met with interest from all over the world, with an incredibly wide diversity of academic backgrounds!

We were delighted to welcome six keynotes from academia, government and industry, including representatives from the United Nations (UNOOSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)! They spoke on a wide variety of principles, challenges and opportunities in the blossoming fields of Space Law and Governance.

The meeting also included two exciting sessions of contributed talks from students and early-career speakers, and a (virtual) networking opportunity over lunch.

You can watch the keynote talks and relative Q&A sessions here.


Virtual AbGradE 2020, August 26th

Due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, AbGradE 2020, planned to be held in Bologna, Italy, was held as a virtual symposium, immediately before the EANA 2020 virtual meeting. Although it was a shame to be unable to meet with friends and colleagues in person, a fortunate consequence of holding our symposium in cyberspace was that our virtual conference room was filled with attendees from around the globe, many of whom joined us from countries that had not previously attended an AbGradE meeting.

With more than 200 participants from 43 countries across six continents among the attendees, AbGradE 2020 was our best-attended and certainly the most international event yet!

The program included 19 contributed talks from early-career researchers on a diverse range of research themes in astrobiology, and 12 keynote talks from representatives of national and international initiatives and institutions in astrobiology, who discussed research directions and career opportunities within their groups. This addressed two of the most commonly asked questions by early-career scientists: how can I develop a career in astrobiology, and where should I go to do so?


3rd AbGradE Workshop, Orléans, September 2019

This workshop took place immediately before the EANA annual meeting in Orléans, France. With 25 participants, it was the largest workshop held thus far.

Focussed on the theme of space missions planning, we were treated to keynote presentations by our two mentors, Jean-Pierre Lebreton (LPC2E, Orléans) and Michel Viso (CNES, Paris). Dr Lebreton, mission manager of the Huygens probe that landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005, gave an in-depth account of the Cassini-Huygens mission, its findings, and the ongoing work using its data. Dr Viso gave an insight into the multitude of stages of planning involved in space missions, with a focus on the importance of planetary protection for astrobiology. 

The second part of the workshop was oriented around participant-led design of a mission of astrobiological relevance, guided by our two mentors.
Mission proposals discussed in the closing session included assessing the habitability of Enceladus’ ocean, new frontiers for astrobiology on Venus, and the challenges of minimal agriculture on Mars. The workshop was a valuable opportunity to highlight the many difficulties to be overcome in the successful design and execution of space missions, and greatly benefitted from the advice and guidance of our mentors, who have themselves been involved in a number of missions to various Solar System bodies.

Outside of the meeting room, we enjoyed the ever-present sightseeing tour and an icebreaker event on the banks of the beautiful river Loire.


AbGradE 101 Networking Workshop, Prague, May 2019

May 2019 was an important month for Astrobiology and especially European astrobiologists, with the official foundation of the European Astrobiology Institute (EAI). In collaboration with EAI, we organized a satellite networking workshop before the EAI launch. “AbGradE 101: where early-career astrobiologists meet” was aimed at young scientists, both to introduce participants to the many domains in the field of astrobiology, as well as to have a seminar in scientific networking, to promote collaborations. The workshop was attended by 28 participants from around the world.

The workshop featured an introduction to the world of Astrobiology, focused on the diversity of sciences involved, and study and career opportunities, followed by a seminar in science communication given by Arianna Ricchiuti. There were also small group discussions by AbGradE committee members specialising in different topics in Astrobiology spectrum.

The second day of the event featured presentations by two experts in the field, Dr. Doris Breuer (DLR Berlin, Germany) and Dr. Catherine Walsh (University of Leeds, UK). They further enhanced our understanding of the field of Astrobiology by sharing their experiences and career paths.

Social events during the workshop included a sightseeing tour in the historical city center of Prague, an icebreaker event and science quiz and a visit to a truly unique Czech landmark, the Planetary Trail, a distance- and size-scaled analogue of the solar system at the riverside.


3rd AbGradE Symposium, Berlin, September 2018

The 3rd AbGradE Symposium took place in September 2018 at the Free University of Berlin. The Symposium lasted 2 days and was attended by 64 participants from across Europe and beyond. The Symposium featured 5 keynote talks, 20 contributor talks, and a poster session

The symposium included sessions on Astronomy and Habitability, Mars astrobiology, prebiotic chemistry and the Origins of Life and microbiology, together with a poster session, giving everyone the opportunity to present and discuss their work to their peers in an informal setting. Keynote talks were kindly given by Nader Haghighipour (University of Hawaii-Manoa, USA), John Lee Grenfell (DLR Berlin, Germany), Peter Fawdon (Open University, UK), Filipa L. Sousa (University of Vienna) and Claudia Pacelli (University of Tuscia). The event concluded with a conference dinner, which was held in a Greek Tavern in Berlin city centre. The symposium was our best-attended event yet and we look forward to the next edition in 2020.

The unofficial start of the event was a sightseeing tour in the city centre of Berlin from Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate, visiting various landmarks en route. After the sightseeing tour, an Icebreaker event promoted networking between the participants.


2nd AbGradE Workshop, Aarhus, August 2017

Our second workshop, on the theme of “Human exploration of the Solar System”, took place at the Ole Rømer Observatory in Aarhus, Denmark, on the 13th of August 2017, just before the annual EANA conference.

An icebreaker day was organised the before the start of the workshop, to give the attendants the opportunity to meet and interact, that included a guided sightseeing tour through the gorgeous city of Aarhus and a dinner.
The workshop itself started by a welcome speech from the AbGradE committee, followed by short pitches from the 20 participants, to introduce themselves and their research. This year’s keynote speaker Cyprien Verseux then presented his experience participating in the one-year Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation IV mission (HI-SEAS IV), an analogue habitat for human spaceflight to Mars.

Participants were grouped into four teams to work on predefined topics relative to the Human exploration of the solar system: Let`s go back to the Moon, Travel to really cool places: Icy Moons of the outer Solar System, Exploit Asteroids, and Conquer Mars. Each group had to design a space mission related to the topic they were assigned to and worked under the supervision of Cyprien Verseux (University of Rome “Tor Vergata”), Tina Šantl-Temkiv and Carolina von Essen (both from Aarhus University). Each group then presented their mission project.

The event concluded with a presentation of the remotely-controlled SONG telescope in Tenerife by Mads Andersen (Aarhus University). The use of the telescope was then demonstrated by observing Saturn’s main moons and the Eagle nebula.


AbGradE Joint-Conference, Tartu, August 2017

During the summer of 2017, we had our first joint Astrobiology early career scientists conference together with the European Astrobiology Campus in cooperation with COST Action TD1308 “Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth and in the Universe”, the Nordic Network of Astrobiology and Tartu University.

The conference started with a welcome barbecue on the 7th of August. The conference itself consisted of two and a half days of scientific sessions, including 9 keynote lectures, 13 talks by early-career scientists, and 8 poster contributions. Keynote lectures were given by a balanced mix of early-, middle- and late-career scientists, working in the different specialities of the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. In total, 39 participants from 13 countries attended this conference, contributing to making it a great success.

Besides the great scientific program, we also had the chance to explore the gorgeous city of Tartu by having a guided walking tour in the afternoon of August 9th. In the evening, we had our authentic Estonian conference dinner at the famous restaurant Püssirohukelder (“Gunpowder Cellar”).

Special thanks to our local organizing committee around Riho Mõtlep and of course to the main organizer, Wolf Geppert, without whom this great conference wouldn’t have been possible.


2nd AbGradE Symposium, Athens, September 2016

The term astrobiology is composed of the Greek words astros and biologia, meaning star, and logic and/or art/way of life. In 2016, it was thus a big tribute that Athens was in focus of Europe’s astrobiology community, as AbGradE’s symposium (25–27 September) immediately preceded EANA`s annual conference (European Astrobiology Network Association).

This year’s meeting started with a day tour through the most famous ancient sights, discovering the historic sites of former advanced civilisations. In the evening, an icebreaker event was organised in the surroundings of the Flisvos Marina. The symposium itself consisted of one and a half days of scientific sessions, including 7 keynote lectures, 15 talks by early-career scientists, and 13 poster contributions.

To maximise networking between participants, an informal picnic on one of the beaches of Athens served as a conference dinner.


1st AbGradE Workshop, Noordwijk, October 2015

This year, AbGradE organized a one-day mission-design workshop in collaboration with ESA-ESTEC and EGU PS Division on 5 October 2015, directly before the 15th EANA Astrobiology Conference (which took place 6-9 October in Noordwijk, the Netherlands)


1st AbGradE Symposium, Edinburgh, October 2014

First AbGradE symposium successfully launched!

Our first initiative was to hold the first symposium in Edinburgh, UK, 10–11 October, organized by Mickael Baqué, Thomas Gautier, Baptiste Journaux, Lena Noack, Paloma Serrano, Eugenio Simoncini, Cyprien Verseux, Vassilissa Vinogradoff and the two local organizers from the UK Centre for Astrobiology, Toby Samuels and Petra Schwendner. This event was strongly supported by the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA).

The symposium started with an icebreaker event and consisted of two days of scientific sessions combined with networking, a round table, a public outreach and education event. Approximately 40 enthusiastic and motivated early-career astrobiologists from all over Europe and beyond attended the symposium presenting their work in a talk/poster on a very high level, followed by discussions that enhanced sharing ideas with their contemporaries.

To get an overview of astrobiology, renowned keynote speakers were invited to introduce the main subfields. The public outreach event allowed for close communication between the graduates and the public in a relaxing atmosphere. The symposium was funded by a broad range of institutions, so that all attendants were provided with travel grants and a low-cost symposium fee to support their participation.