Weekly NfoLD Round-Up
Some odds-and-ends about exciting things going on in NfoLD during this week:
The pre-print white paper from our Standards of Evidence Workshop in 2021 has now appeared online at arXiv.org! This workshop brought together the NfoLD and NExSS RCNs to help guide the community on what they should do if they think they've detected signs of life outside of Earth. This is major point of debate within the life detection community, and has been a contentious point in the past. If we announce the detection of life, we want to be able to stand behind those results as a community, and not lose the trust of public! After the workshop in 2021 we have elicited many rounds of feedback and community comments which have come together to create the white paper that we have now. Making it freely available on arXiv.org for further comments and review is one of the final steps of the process before we submit the white paper for peer review. Check it out and see the great plans that the community has come up with to help us validate our science and discoveries!
Copyright Paramount Pictures
Next up, I'd like to introduce you to our newest Steering Committee Member! Dr. Xiaolei Liu from the University of Oklahoma has agreed to join our team to help guide us as we search for life! Here's a description of his work:
Arsenic is a toxic metalloid that ubiquitously occurs in present-day environments and very likely was more abundant in the primordial ocean. The capacity of metabolizing arsenic by diverse microorganisms is believed to have evolved during the early evolution of Life. However, the study of arsenic biogeochemistry in deep time is hindered by the paucity of microbial fossil records. With a novel analytical application we have detected a suite of arsenolipids that are widespread in various deposition environments ranging from modern water column to over 100 Ma old black shale. These arsenic bearing compounds are not diagenetic products, but biological molecules synthesized by yet unrecognized anaerobic microbes metabolizing arsenic, and therefore represent a set of novel biomarkers for arsenic biogeochemistry. In this project arsenolipids based molecular proxy will be developed to study arsenic biogeochemistry, which could be coupled to both sulfur and carbon cycles, in present environment and geological past.
Check out his webpage to see what his lab is working on right now, see his publications, and just start geeking out over the awesome science that his is doing!
Dr. Xiaolei Liu
You've signed up for AbGradCon already, right? If you haven't, what are you waiting for? This was one of the most important and formative series of conferences I attended as an early career scientist, and I highly recommend it for anybody working in the field of Astrobiology! Make connections, and get exposed to the full breadth of science in the field instead of the insular circles we often find ourselves in. Applications are due on March 15th!