Astrobiology Graduate Conference

14-18 September 2020

Tokyo, Japan

Thanks for all who have submitted abstracts. The application deadline was March 15.

The organizing team is continuing to closely monitor the situation regarding the spread of COVID-19 in Japan and around the world, and will issue updates as necessary. As of 27 March, there is no plan to cancel or postpone the meeting. However, please follow updates on this website, or on the official AbGradCon twitter (@abgradcon), for the latest news.

What's new

Check below for the latest updates regarding AbGradCon 2020!

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

Credits: 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 2020 marks the 16th year of this conference—each time in a different place and organized by a different group of students, but always with the original charter as a guide. This year's conference will be held in Asia for the first time.
  • 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

Credits: Lucy Kwok (ELSI)

14-18 September 2020, ELSI

  • The theme of this year's conference is "International Collaboration".
  • Attendees will be given the option to present their research either as an oral presentation or as a poster (more info here). There will also be an undergraduate digital flash talk contest.
  • Participants will have the chance to attend a workshop focusing on different aspects of science communication (presentation skills, public engagement, social media).
  • Keynote speaker(s) and Career Panelists will be announced soon
  • On the first day of the conference, scientists from ELSI will present their research in a poster session, in order for AbGradCon participants to get to know their work.
  • The Proposal Writing Retreat (PWR) will occur after the conference (Sep 18-21) in a remote area 1-2 hours away from Tokyo (exact location TBD).

The application deadline was March 15th, 2020. We hope to update all applicants on acceptance and funding allocations (if any) sometime in April or May.

  • ELSI is located in southern Tokyo between the stations Ishikawadai (Tokyu Ikegami line) and Ookayama (Tokyu Meguro line and Tokyu Oimachi line). It takes approximately ~100 minutes to reach ELSI from Narita airport and ~40 minutes from Haneda airport.
  • Talks will be held at Digital Hall, located near the entrance of the Tokyo Tech campus close to Ookayama Station.
  • Poster sessions will be held in ELSI-1 Gallery (1F), around 8 minutes walk from Digital Hall.
  • Field trip locations in the greater Tokyo area reachable by train.
  • Housing opportunities close to Oimachi station (Tokyu Oimachi line), Gotanda station (Tokyu Ikegami Line, JR Yamanote Line, Toei Asakusa Line) and Kamata station (Tokyu Ikegami line and JR Keihin-Tohoku line).

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)


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, Kang Wei Lim, Yamei Li

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