European Astrobiology Institute (EAI)

A virtual institute for Astrobiolgy in Europe

Fundamental questions in science like “How and when did life emerge on Earth?”, “How did our solar system and life evolve and how will it develop in the future” and “Is there life on other celestial bodies” will not be answered by one discipline alone but require a concerted and coordinated approach involving many researchers with seemingly unrelated scientific backgrounds. Also, the European research landscape is rapidly changing on a global scale. Boundaries between disciplines disappear and new cross-disciplinary fields emerge. Astrobiology is one of them. Research in such field requires interaction and exchange of ideas and new results between scientists from many countries and fields, something that only larger research communities like the European Research Area can accomplish. In order to take astrobiology-related research forward and to prevent a counterproductive fragmentation of the European Astrobiology research community through duplicate or excessively overlapping initiatives and structures the AstroMap Report (drawn up under the EU FP7 programme) unequivocally recommends the creation of a pan-European platform for research, training outreach and dissemination in Astrobiology. The European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) aims to function as such an entity. Such an institute is required to keep Europe’s leading position in this interdisciplinary field relatively to other countries and regions. EAI will closely collaborate with several related European organisations including ESA, EANA and Europlanet but as a network of institutions fundamentally different from existing bodies.

Mission

The European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) is a consortium of European research and higher education institutions and organisations as well as other stakeholders aiming to carry out research, training, outreach and dissemination activities in astrobiology in a comprehensive and coordinated manner and thereby securing a leading role for the European Research Area in the field. The EAI is an Expert Board hosted and administered by the European Science Foundation.

As such, the EAI aims to:

  • Perform ground-breaking research on key scientific questions in astrobiology (which will be periodically reviewed) requiring a cooperative interdisciplinary approach
  • Disseminate high-quality results of such research efforts effectively across the scientific community
  • Provide interdisciplinary training for students and early career scientists in astrobiology
  • Engage in education in the field of astrobiology on all levels
  • Liaise with industry to foster collaborations on technological developments that are relevant to astrobiology research and beneficial to Europe as a whole
  • Coordinate the outreach activities of European astrobiologists to the general public, industry and all other relevant stakeholders
  • Act as an advisory body and provide high-quality expertise to European research organisations and decision makers on all aspects of astrobiology at the European level
  • Ensure the necessary financial means to carry out these activities through a coordinated approach to European funding agencies including Horizon programmes

Membership and Structure

The EAI is governed by a Management Committee, which was elected at the First General Assembly at Liblice, on 30 May 2019.

EAI Management Committee

Chair:

  • Wolf D. Geppert (Stockholm University, Sweden)

Vice-Chairs:

  • Muriel Gargaud (Université Bordeaux-CNRS, France)
  • John Brucato (Istituto Nazional di Astrofisica, Italy)

Leaders of the Scientific Working Groups

  • Planetary Environments and Habitability: Vinciane Debaille, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Biosignatures and the Detection of Life beyond Earth: Jean-Pierre de Vera (German Aerospace Center – DLR, Germany)
  • Historical, Philosophical, Societal and Ethical Issues in Astrobiology: David Dunér (Lund University, Sweden)
  • The Path to Complexity - From Simple Molecules to First Life: Thomas Henning (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany)
  • Evolution and Traces of Early Life and Life under Extreme Conditions: Emmanuelle Javaux (University of Liège, Belgium)
  • Formation and Evolution of Planetary system and Detection of Habitable Worlds: Antonello Provenzale (CNR, Italy)

Leaders of the Activity Working Groups

  • Dissemination and Intellectial Output: Muriel Gargaud (Université Bordeaux-CNRS, France)
  • Field Work and Field Site Management: Kereszturi Akos (Konkoly Observatory, Hungary)
  • European Astrobiology Campus: Kalle Kirsimäe (Tartu University-EAC, Estonia)
  • Access to European Research Infrastructures and Analysis Facilities: Miguel Mas Hesse (Centro de Astrobiología, Spain)
  • Funding and Policy: Nigel Mason (Open University-Europlanet, UK)
  • Education: Riho Motlep (University of Tartu, Estonia)
  • Outreach,  Media and Corporate Identity: Julie Nekola Novaková (Charles University, Czech Republic)

Host Organisation Representative

  • Nicolas Walter (European Science Foundation, France)

Members

  • Jesus Martinez Frias (Spanish Network of Planetology and Astrobiology, Spain)
  • Karen Olsson Francis (Open University-UK Astrobiology Center, UK)
  • Tilman Spohn (DLR-Institute of Planetary Research (retired), Germany)
  • Ruth-Sophie Taubner (Wien University, Austria)
  • Michel Viso (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, France)
  • Frances Westall (CNRS and European Astrobiology Network Association, France)

Funders

The work of the EAI is financially supported by the following entities:

Core Organisations (in alphabetical order):

  •     Centro de Astrobiología (Spain)
  •     CNES (France)
  •     CNRS (France)
  •     FNRS (Belgium)
  •     INAF (Italy)

Participating Institutions (in alphabetical order):

  • Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire Orléans (France)
  • Charles University Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse (CNR, Italy)
  • Konkoly Observatory (Hungary)
  • Lund University (Sweden)
  • Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (Germany)
  • Nicolaus Copernicus University (Poland)
  • Open University (UK)
  • Stockholm University (Sweden)
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)
  • University of Bordeaux (France)
  • University of Grenoble-Alpes (France)
  • University of Kent (UK)
  • University of Liège (Belgium)
  • University of Paris-Est Creteil (France)
  • University of Szczecin (Poland)
  • University of Tartu (Estonia)
  • University of Turku (Finland)
  • University of Tuscia (Italy)

Contact

Prof. Wolf Dietrich Geppert - wgeppert_at_fysik.su.se

M. Nicolas Walter - nwalter_at_esf.org