ET Biology – How Often Does Hollywood Get It Right?

Sunday June 24th, 2012
3:00 pm
Ballroom C

Buy the Panel Discussion DVD


Oana Marcu - research interests include molecular adaptations of cells to extreme habitats on Earth, as analogs for Mars environments that could harbor life. Survival of life in deserts requires adaptation to desiccation, extreme temperatures and radiation, which limit the presence of life. For extremophiles, adaptation implies maintaining the structural and functional integrity of biomolecules (DNA, protein, lipids), which are otherwise damaged through oxidation.
Seth ShostakSeth Shostak - Seth claims to have developed an interest in extraterrestrial life at the tender age of ten, when he first picked up a book about the solar system. This innocent beginning eventually led to a degree in radio astronomy, and now, as Senior Astronomer, Seth is an enthusiastic participant in the Institute’s SETI observing programs. He also heads up the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Committee. In addition, Seth is keen on outreach activities: interesting the public – and especially young people – in science in general, and astrobiology in particular. He’s co-authored a college textbook on astrobiology, and has written three trade books on SETI. In addition, he’s published more than 400 popular articles on science -- including regular contributions to both the Huffington Post and Discover Magazine blogs -- gives many dozens of talks annually, and is the host of the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, “Big Picture Science.”
Margaret S. Race - is concerned with protecting the planets. Actually, protecting all the planets: but especially Earth and Mars. Her work focuses on the scientific, technical, legal and societal issues of ensuring that missions to the Red Planet and other solar system bodies do not either inadvertently bring terrestrial microbes along, which would complicate our search for indigenous extraterrestrial life, or return any microbes to Earth. Recently, she’s done a research study on the environmental impact reviews and public communication associated with high-containment biosafety labs – the type that will eventually be used for the quarantine of returned samples from Mars. Buy How Would You Respond to a Martian Emergency? (Fireside Chat) on DVD


Edna DeVore - Science and astronomy educator Edna DeVore is the Deputy CEO and the Director of Education and Public Outreach (EPO) at the SETI Institute. She’s been a researcher, planetarium director, teacher, and curriculum writer, and currently is busy with projects related to education and SETI. Notable among these are the “Life in the Universe” curriculum materials for students in grades 3-9 and a new high school course, “Voyages Through Time”. Edna also co-directs the education and public outreach programs for two NASA missions: SOFIA and Kepler.