Interested in Exoplanets? Astrobiology? Apply now for ERES & AbGradCon2015

So many conferences, so little time! I’d like to talk about TWO upcoming conferences designed specifically for undergraduate, graduate students and early career scientists in the field of astrobiology and exoplanet science: 1) the Astrobiology Graduate Conference and 2) the Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science Symposium.

The importance of conferences could not be stressed enough in the field of astronomy. Up-and-coming students should always be looking for opportunities to meet other scientists, build collaborations, give talks, present posters, etc. This requires a suite of skills that are not exactly taught to any of us (unless you have an awesome advisor or are at one of the few universities who offer career based seminars). So where does an emerging researcher acquire these skills? This is where student led conferences become invaluable.

Imagine a conference where only your peers sit before you. Where the pressure is off and networking and collaboration is stress-free. Now couple that with a conference that actually provides (limited) travel funds and you’ve got ERES and AbGradCon. Conferences planned with the student in mind.

Below, I will give short synapses of both conferences and readers should bear in mind that applications are now open. So apply soon!

Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science Symposium

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ERES is a brand new symposium designed for students and postdocs working in the realm of exoplanet science and related disciplines (e.g., brown dwarfs, protoplanetary disks, star formation, related instrumentation and theory). This conference is unique in that not only does it allow students to share their research through talks, poster pops, poster sessions, there will also be a unique set of seminars and discussion on topics such as work/life balance, applying for fellowships/grants and various career opportunities. The field of exoplanet science is booming and therefore, it is crucial for the next generation of scientists to come together and form a community. ERES will be the platform to build such a community.


Astrobiology Graduate Conference











Astrobiology is a crazy realm of science since it incorporates all of the sciences. Which means, if you are interested in astrobiology, you might find yourself teeter-tottering on the edge of biology/astronomy, chemistry/geology, physics/meteorology. If this is you, you belong at AbGradCon. AbGradCon provides a unique setting where students from all disciplines can gather in one location to discuss current research in astrobiology. It also allows students to increase their exposure to topics they wouldn’t normally encounter, all in the name of being truly interdisciplinary. If that isn’t enough, here are some awesome insights into what will be going on:

  1. Two days of scientific and collaborative sessions
  2. Astrobiology trivia at local venues
  3. Science panels that are open to public of Madison
  4. Science communication workshop
  5. Undergraduate student poster competition
  6. Fieldtrip to Devil’s Lake State Park

Not only does AbGradCon provide a baseboard for expanding your own scientific horizons, it also allows for students to get involved expanding public involvement within the astrobiology community.

Applications for both these sessions are now open. For more information, please visit the links provided above.

About Natasha Batalha

Born in Brazil, raised in CA... I somehow ended up in the tundra of Ithaca, NY for undergrad at Cornell studying physics. I spent my undergraduate days dancing and studying exoplanets and am now a 3rd year graduate student at Penn State studying astrophysics and astrobiology. I'm currently working on atmospheric photochemistry with Jim Kasting, a JWST exoplanet simulator with Jason Kalirai and Avi Mandell, and am conducting some laboratory experiments on biosignature gases with Chris House. Outside of academia I'm involved in an awesome organization called "Learn to Be", which provides online tutoring for underserved communities. We are always looking for more tutors, so please contact me if you are interested!


  1. It is really interesting to hear you perspective on why undergraduates should attend conferences. Up until now I have always thought of them as something undergraduates feel like they should do to prove they are the most successful undergraduate researcher ever to their future grad school, but I see that there is some actual pedagogical merit as well. Very cool.

  2. I was always interested to get into some exoplanet research or astronomical stuff but i got into a very different field which i still regret for. Can i get some way out. I would do anything if i get a chance but i got no one around to help me. I am a student of bachelor of maritime science currently in 2nd year.


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