Astrobiology Graduate Conference

Hosted by the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI)

14-17 September 2021

What's new

Check below for the latest updates regarding AbGradCon 2021!

  • 2021/01/05: AbGradCon 2021 Application Now Open!

  • 2020/11/16: Life journal (mdpi) joins as a partner of AbGradCon 2021!

  • 2020/09/14: We are happy to announce that AbGradCon 2021 is planned to take place at ELSI from 14-17 September 2021. Please note that depending on the COVID-19 situation, it may transition to a digital format.

What is astrobiology?

Astrobiology is the study of the physical and chemical processes that led to the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe. The research topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The physical and chemical processes that led to the evolution of life including the formation and evolution of the stars and planets

  • The nature and evolution of early planetary atmospheres, crusts, and interiors

  • Geochemical and geological processes

  • How the first prebiotic chemicals were synthesized

  • The transition between primitive chemistries to biologies

  • Biological evolution of organisms

  • Engineering and design of spacecraft and life detection technologies

  • Planetary protection

  • Fundamental properties of life

  • Co-evolution of life and Earth (or other planets)

  • Paleo-geochemistry

About AbGradcon

AbGradCon 2021 PosterCredits: Lucy Kwok (ELSI)
  • AbGradCon (Astrobiology Graduate Conference) provides a unique setting for astrobiologically-inclined graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, to collaborate, and to network.

  • AbGradCon 2021 will mark the 17th year of this conference-each time in a different place and organized by a different group of students and postdocs, but always with the original charter as a guide.

  • These meetings have been wildly successful both when connected to AbSciCon, and as stand-alone conferences. Since it is organized and attended by only graduate students, post docs, and selected undergraduates, AbGradCon is an ideal venue for the next generation of career astrobiologists to form bonds, share ideas, and discuss the issues that will shape the future of the field.

  • Have a look at the AbGradCon 2019 website to know more about past conferences.

  • Here is an editorial about the history of the conference written by past AbGradCon organizers.

  • If you have any questions about the conference, please feel free to contact us at abgradcon [at] gmail [dot] com.

About ELSI


  • The Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), located on the Ookayama campus of Tokyo Institute of Technology, was launched in December 2012 as part of the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

  • ELSI’s research mission is to elucidate how our planet was formed and how its early environment allowed for the rise of initial life and its subsequent evolution to complexity. What distinguishes ELSI from other institutes studying the origins of life is its emphasis on placing the study in the context of the specific ecological system of the early Earth.

  • By exploring both the origin and evolution of the Earth and the origins and evolution of life, ELSI is creating a new field called ‘Bioplanetology’ as an interdisciplinary research focus.

Credits: Tokyo Tech

About the conference

14-17 September 2021

  • There will be a Proposal Writing Retreat (PWR) prior to the conference (September 10-13).

  • AbGradCon 2020 did not take place due to COVID-19. In the meantime, we provided a number of opportunities to stay connected with the astrobiology community here.

  • Please note that depending on the COVID-19 situation at the time, AbGradCon may transition to a digital format. A decision will be made at a later time.

The Application for AbGradCon 2021 is now open!

The Application Deadline is March 15th, 2021 (23:59 JST).

code of conduct

Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. All event attendees and staff have the right to a space that is free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, bullying, and/or retaliation. Participants who are requested to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. If you wish to report harassment, suspect that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the organizing committee as soon as possible.



NASA Astrobiology Program

Blue Marble Space Institute


Japan Astrobiology Center

ELSI Firstlogic Astrobiology Donation Program

Astrobiology Australasia Meeting

Astrobiology Graduates in Europe (AbGradE)


Astrobiology Club

Astrobiology Society of Asia-Pacific (ASAP)

Life journal (mdpi)

Social media



Links to past AGC websites

Salt Lake City (UT)

Atlanta (GA)

Charlottesville (VA)

Boulder (CO)

Madison (WI)

Montreal (Canada)

Los Angeles (CA)

Bozeman (MT)


If you have any questions about the conference, please feel free to contact us at abgradcon [at] gmail [dot] com.


ELSI Organizing Committee: Tony Z. Jia (Chair), Kristin N. Johnson-Finn (Co-chair), Irene Bonati, Kosuke Fujishima, Paula Prondzinsky, Harrison B. Smith, Natsumi Noda, Yamei Li, Kang Wei Lim, Wataru Takahagi

External Organizers: Alma Ceja, Julia McGonigle, Lena Vincent, Natalie Grefenstette, Niraja V. Bapat, Petar Penev, Shreyas Vissapragada, Tyler Roche, Osama Alian