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NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific Innovation

Previous Chairs

The NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific Innovation at the Kluge Center has supported scholars from a wide range of academic backgrounds. The following materials and presentations will guide you in getting to know the scholarly work of previous chairs.

Bruce Clarke is the Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Literature and Science in the Department of English at Texas Tech University. His research focuses on 19th and 20th century literature and science, with special interests in systems theory, narrative theory, and ecology. At the Kluge Center, he worked on a project titled “Astrobiology, Ecology and the Rise of Gaia Theory.” The Gaia theory postulates that the Earth’s living and nonliving components form a self-regulating planetary system.


Featured Video

April 23, 2019

On Christmas Eve, 1968, the NASA crew on Apollo 8 took the Earthrise photograph, the first photo of the earth from the perspective of the moon. It was immediately influential, and the first Earth Day followed soon after, in the spring of 1970. Bruce Clarke moderated a discussion about the rich cultural impact of the photo on the U.S. space program and the environmental movement.


Blog Post

The following post appeared in the Library of Congress blog—Insights: the Scholarly Work of the John W. Kluge Center. This blog shares the knowledge gleaned from the research of top scholars in the humanities and social sciences in residence at the Library of Congress.


Print Materials

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Lucianne Walkowicz is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. She studies the ethics of Mars exploration, stellar magnetic activity, how stars influence a planet’s suitability as a host for alien life, and how to use advanced computing to discover unusual events in large astronomical data sets. Walkowicz is the founding director of the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program, an initiative to provide astronomy graduate students with training in advanced computing and coordinates the community of science collaborations for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. As a scholar in residence at the Kluge Center, Walkowicz worked on a project titled, “Fear of a Green Planet: Inclusive Systems of Thought for Human Exploration of Mars.”


Featured Video

September 27, 2018

This symposium, hosted by Lucianne Walkowicz, the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at the Library's John W. Kluge Center, featured panel discussions on how current narratives, policies and laws frame human exploration and presence in space. The panels included a diverse group of thought leaders including astrobiologists, anthropologists, policy experts, artists and journalists whose work has relevance to the human exploration of Mars.


Print Materials

The following title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Luis A. Campos, a historian of science, is Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of New Mexico and a Senior Fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy. As a scholar in residence at the Kluge Center, Campos examined the intersection between astrobiology and synthetic biology.


Featured Video

The Emergence of Life: In the Lab Symposium, September 15, 2016

Presentations on the emergence of life in the lab, including "Minerals, Organics, and the Origins of Life," "Synthesizing Life: From Early Origins to New Natures" and "Analysis: Synthesis."  Luis Campos presented his work on the origins of life, how we came to know it, and what it means.


Blog Post

The following post appeared in the Library of Congress blog—Insights: the Scholarly Work of the John W. Kluge Center. This blog shares the knowledge gleaned from the research of top scholars in the humanities and social sciences in residence at the Library of Congress.


Print Materials

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Nathanial Comfort is a historian of recent science, biology and biomedicine. As a scholar in residence at the Kluge Center, Comfort examined the history of the genomic revolution in origin-of-life research, addressing one of the central areas of inquiry in the field of astrobiology: how life began and evolved here on Earth.


Featured Video

March 17, 2016

Nathaniel Comfort convenes four distinguished scientists on-stage for a live oral history interview about the origins of the RNA world, the world at the dawn of life, before DNA, arising nearly four billion years ago.


Blog Post

The following post appeared in the Library of Congress blog—Insights: the Scholarly Work of the John W. Kluge Center. This blog shares the knowledge gleaned from the research of top scholars in the humanities and social sciences in residence at the Library of Congress.

 


Print Materials

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Steven J. Dick is an astronomer, author, and historian who served as the chief historian for NASA from 2003 to 2009 and formerly served as an astronomer and historian of science at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. As a scholar in residence at the Kluge Center, Dick explored the critical issues and optimal approaches to studying the societal impact of the discovery of microbial or complex life beyond Earth.


Featured Videos

January 28, 2014

The outgoing and incoming Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chairs in Astrobiology -- David H. Grinspoon and Steven J. Dick -- discussed the societal implications of the search for life in the universe.

 

June 18, 2014

Discoveries of new, potentially habitable worlds beyond our solar system raise challenging questions for humanity vis-a-vis faith, human nature, reality and religion. This discussion addresses the complex intersection of astrobiology and theology as part of the Kluge Center's astrobiology program.


Blog Post

The following post appeared in the Library of Congress blog—Insights: the Scholarly Work of the John W. Kluge Center. This blog shares the knowledge gleaned from the research of top scholars in the humanities and social sciences in residence at the Library of Congress.


Print Materials

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

David Grinspoon, a researcher in planetary science, held the inaugural Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. As a scholar in residence at the Kluge Center, Grinspoon used the Library’s collections to research and write his book on the "Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future". He played an important role as an ambassador for astrobiology as chair, meeting with members of Congress, delivering several high-profile lectures, and hosting a day-long symposium on the longevity of human civilization featuring scientists, science fiction authors, and journalists.


Featured Videos

October 31, 2013

David Grinspoon examines choices facing humanity as we enter the Anthropocene Era, the epoch when human activities are becoming a defining characteristic of the physical nature and functioning of Earth.

 

June 5, 2014

The notion of wilderness as a pristine natural environment untouched by human activity is a powerful narrative in discourses of global climate change and literature. The wilderness conjures up feeling of nostalgia, tranquility, and a desire for active conservation. But has wilderness truly ever existed? And what role do both the realities and myths of human interaction with the wild have in framing human thoughts about place, time, and history? Astrobiologist David Grinspoon and literary scholar Charlotte Rogers discuss how these ideas impact their research in both the scientific study of the history of the Earth and the history of literature about the Amazonian rainforest.


Blog Post

The following post appeared in the Library of Congress blog—“Inquiring Minds" Series. This series shares the knowledge gleaned from the research of top scholars in the humanities and social sciences in residence at the Library of Congress.


Print Materials

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.