SAGANet Community Newsletter - Sept. 2015


Mentor of the Month: Julia DeMarines

Sept. 24, 10 am PST, 11 am MST, 1 pm EST

Julia will be sharing her off the beaten path scientific and outreach journey detailing her Astrobiology career. It begins in the basement of her parents house being moved by the movie Contact, which leads her to pursue a degree in Astronomy the mountains town of Boulder, Colorado, and ultimately working at NASA Langley on building a remote life detection instrument using lasers. In between the book ends, the journey takes her from working at an Ethiopian restaurant and living in an attic, to a pursuing a masters degree in France while still managing to live in an attic, to interning at NASA Ames (under the wing of Dr. Chris McKay) while living in a yellow van named doo-dah, to living on two research vessels while communicating science, to becoming the research assistant doing research and education (under the wing of Dr. David Grinspoon) at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, to managing the House Band of the Universe's 2014 summer tour, and performing space raps at her self started outreach event called Space in Your Face!, and then some. She has never had any formal mentors, but several informal mentors that have helped her find steady footing on her meandering path, and she was particularly excited to share the awesomeness of Astrobiology by mentoring the next generation of Astrobiologists through SAGANet's mentoring programs. 

Weekly ASU Astrobiology ``Coffee Hour" Lunchtime Seminars Restart on Aug. 24

All are welcome to attend the weekly ASU ``Coffee Hour" seminars, which this year take place on Mondays at noon PST. Watch the talks on SAGANlive and interact with the speaker and attendees using the SAGANet chat! See upcoming speakers and topics on the calendar.

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Weekly Virtual Journal Reading Group Restarts on Aug. 28

The virtual astrobiology journal reading group meets weekly. All are welcome to join the conversation, keep up to date with the latest astrobiology research, learn about the disciplines of astrobiology, and suggest papers! The group meets Fridays at noon PST, starting on August 28. See upcoming topics on the calendar. You can participate live by clicking a link that opens a video-conference in your web browser.

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HI-SEAS IV blog on SAGANet

Cyprien Verseux, crewmember on HI-SEAS IV, is blogging about the mission on SAGANet!

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NEW EVENT: Documentary night with activist and filmmaker Jason Bosch on language and perception

How does language shape the way with think and how we live? What if you didn't have a word for right and left but instead relied on cardinal direction? What if you had no unique words for colors or numbers? This is the case for some indigenous tribes. How does our language influence our relationships with one another and with ecology? How is language being manipulated by politicians, think tanks and corporations? Jason Bosch of ArgusFest will be presenting documentary clips along with excerpts from talks by linguists exploring questions of language and perception.

Jason Bosch is a filmmaker and activist from Denver, Colorado. In 2001 he founded ArgusFest, which works to raise awareness of human rights, social justice, media, and environmental issues. He has organized hundreds of events facilitating discussion; including documentary film screenings, lectures, art exhibits, and music concerts. He served on the board of the Denver VOICE, a homeless street paper from 2004 to 2012. In 2011 Jason was the campaign manager for Cheri Honkala, the Green Party candidate who ran for Sheriff of Philadelphia on a zero-evictions platform. Bosch is currently working on monetary and economic issues and is currently working on a documentary film about the influence of money on nonprofits and NGOs.


SAGANet's Youtube archive of talks

All “Talk to an Astrobiologist” and “Mentor of the Month” interviews are available in a Youtube archive:

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Support The Wrinkle Brain Project

The Wrinkled Brain Project aims at wrinkling students’ brains with science thinking, not just science concepts. Science is not memorizing facts or going through scripted lab assignments to get specific answers; it’s all about critical thinking, inquiry, problem solving, and collaboration. That’s what we want to bring to science classrooms around the world. We want to teach science as science is really done, in a way that hasn’t been done before.

Right now, we’re working on a project called Gedanken. It’s a program where video clips of real scientists prompt students to work together design their own experiments to solve an unanswered question in science. They dig up their own background information, they develop research questions, they form hypotheses, and then design their own experiments to test those hypotheses. Again, it’s all about critical thinking and problem solving, skills that kids will need for success in STEM careers or otherwise navigating our information-saturated 21st century.

Would you like to be a part of the Wrinkled Brain Project? Here’s how you can help:

Help us spread the word!

There is a GoFundMe campaign to help get Gedanken off the ground. We basically need $5,000 to finish Gedanken and test it in schools. If you could help us spread the word and pass this message along to any potential donors who are interested in effective science education, that would be great. Every little bit helps!

Do you know any interested scientists?
Do you know any scientists whose work strives to answer any of these still-unsolved science mysteries:
Are we alone in the Universe?
Why do we sleep?
How do we deal with climate change?
How do we stop infectious diseases from spreading?
How do we power the future with renewable energy?
How do we feed our growing population?
How do we safely handle pests and invasive species?
Or any other big mysteries?

Do you know any charismatic communicators that can explain their research and its importance to children in a few minutes or less? Do you know someone who has a few minutes to record a video? Please forward this message to anyone you think would be a great virtual ambassador for science to schools everywhere!

Twitter: @WrinkledBrains

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Vote to boost our chances of presenting to SXSW2016

Dear SAGANet Family,

We have submitted a preliminary session proposal to present to the South by South West Education community in 2016 ( SXSWedu brings together stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds in education to promote creativity and social change.

The session selection process, also known as the "panel picker", is divided into staff votes (30%), advisory board votes (40%) and public votes (30%). We need YOUR HELP in the form of VOTES from our community, our networks and the public to boost our chances of being selected. Voting ends Friday September 4th. Please follow and share this link with friends, educators and your social networks to increase our chance of presenting at SXSWedu 2016:

- Grasshopper and SAGANet Admins

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Soffen travel grants - Deadline Oct. 1

The Gerald A. Soffen Memorial Fund is pleased to announce the final 2015 Travel Grant application opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing studies in fields of space science and engineering.

The Travel Grants, in the amount of $500, enable student recipients to attend professional meetings to present their research. The Fall 2015 Travel Grant application deadline is October 1, 2015. Jerry Soffen, a biologist by training, led a distinguished career in NASA, including serving as the Project Scientist for Viking and as an architect for the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The Travel Grant continues Jerry’s dedication to educating and involving future generations in space science and engineering pursuits. The electronic application materials and instructions are located on the Soffen Fund website:

Questions regarding the application or application process may be sent to

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Jerusalem Winter School on Exoplanets

The Israeli Institute for Advanced Studies is happy to announce the 33rd Jerusalem Winter School on Exoplanets. The school, aimed at advanced graduate students and postdocs, will take place in Jerusalem, Israel, from Dec 28 2015 - Jan 8, 2016, with Profs. Dave Stevenson (Caltech) and Re'em Sari (Hebrew University) as directors. Lecturers include Dave Charbonneau, Tristan Guillot, Yoram Lithwick, Tsevi Mazeh, Ruth Murray-Clay, Adam Showman, Giovanna Tinetti and Scott Tremaine.

Through systematic lectures on the foundations of planetary origin, evolution and structure, this school will provide the background needed to explore and interpret the remarkable detection of thousands of exoplanets around other stars. This sets the stage for a more detailed understanding of their properties and system architecture in the coming decade.

The school also organises several excursions in Israel, including inspiring visits to the old city of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada. Some financial aid is available for those who need it. Application to the school is through

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Call for 2016 Sagan Fellow Applications - Deadline Nov. 5

The NASA Exoplanet Science Institute solicits applications for Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships to begin in the fall of 2016. The deadline for applications and letters of reference is Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 4 pm PDT.

The Sagan Fellowships support outstanding recent postdoctoral scientists to conduct independent research that is broadly related to the science goals of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program. The primary goal of missions within this program is to discover and characterize planetary systems and Earth-like planets around nearby stars.

More information:


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Ask your questions here!

Started by Gina Misra in SAGANet Discussions. Last reply by Cesar Andres Alfonso Zamora 21 hours ago. 178 Replies

If you are trying to ask a question live during Ask an Astrobiologist, please do so in the main chatroom at the bottom of the screen! You can also ask on twitter @saganorg…Continue

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