What is RFG?

The Astrobiology Research Focus Group Workshop is an independent training workshop that brings together early-career astrobiologists from diverse academic backgrounds for an intensive three-day collaborative proposal writing experience. The central objective for workshop participants is to create an original proposal on a topic relevant to the current state of astrobiology research, which must be presented to a body of peers. Participants are encouraged to use the workshop as a forum for exploring creative and original research topics. The workshop culminates in a peer-review panel discussion on each team's presented work, leading to a final anonymous vote on the best proposal.

The prior workshops produced several original research ideas. Highlights include: work leading to a successfully funded research grant through the NAI director's discretionary fund (Proposal Title: Perchlorate, Water and Life: the Geomicrobiology of Mars Analog Soils); and an internationally recognized space policy paper proposing a METI protocol for messaging extraterrestrial intelligence (Atri, DeMarines, and Haqq-Misra, 2011).

Where and When is RFG?

The 2016 Research Focus Group will be held in Estes Park, Colorado, from July 22nd through 24th of 2016. We are currently planning to hold the event at the YMCA of the Rockies, which lies just to the east of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Participation in the RFG Workshop

Although RFG 2016 is being held in conjunction with AbGradCon 2016, we are an independent workshop and have a separate application form and deadlines. Watch the AbGradCon homepage and Facebook group for an announcement about the opening of the RFG application.


We accept applications from current graduate students.


We expect to be able to fund up to 28 graduate students to join us at RFG 2016. We expect that most attendees will also attend AbGradCon and will place preference on such attendees, however we may be able to fund the travel of several attendees who are not going to join us at AbGradCon.