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Pop-Up Institutes are a Vice President for Research initiative that supports interdisciplinary teams of UT Austin researchers. Each team spends the academic year preparing for a burst of activity focused on a specific area of research. Their Institute then ‘pops up’ for one summer month, providing dedicated resources, time and space for researchers across campus to combine their unique perspectives and distinct skill sets in pursuit of a common goal.
Current evidence indicates that life initiated on Earth just as soon as the physical conditions permitted. Is there life on other planets, or is life on Earth a unique phenomenon? We now know that Earth-like planets are common in our Milky Way galaxy. Recent research indicates that Mars may once have been habitable, and that oceans of liquid water exist below the icy surfaces of Europa and Enceladus. Are any of these locations suitable habitats for life? What physical conditions does life require to start and to flourish, and where are the settings to find such conditions?
Our Pop-Up Institute will unite researchers across campus (College of Natural Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, Cockrell School of Engineering) to:
- Bring in a wide variety of world experts to advise us on the topics of planetary habitability and life beyond Earth.
- Identify the most important questions in these research areas.
- Develop long-range plans for a coordinated campus-wide research effort in planetary habitability.
- Write draft proposals for significant external funding of this research effort through the NASA Astrobiology Institute, NSF, or private foundations.
- Explore possible international collaborations with aligned initiatives in other countries.
Learn more about the Pop-Up Institute.
Thank you to our sponsors for their support of the Pop-Up Institute:
Logo and banner illustration by: Judit Gyorgyey Ries, Research Associate, McDonald Observatory and Center for Space Research.