Astrobiology Graduate Conference

Virtual Meeting

Hosted by the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI)

14-17 September 2021

What's new

Check below for the latest updates regarding AbGradCon 2021!

  • 2021/10/1: Our partners, Explainables, produced Science Communication video sessions for #AbGradCon2021, and now they are available publicly (until November 15th)!

Best Practice for Creating Scientific Presentations and Posters:

Branding, Networking and Marketing for Scientist:

  • 2021/09/17: AbGradCon 2021 is over! See you at AbGradCon 2022 in Washington, DC (more details to come soon)!

  • 2021/09/10: Final Conference Programme Uploaded!

  • 2021/09/09: First pre-conference Happy Hour to take place!

  • 2021/09/01: Exoplanet Modeling and Analysis Center (EMAC) information added to Opportunities and Resources page.

  • 2021/08/25: SSOEL: Astrobiology-Japan joins as a partner of AbGradCon2021!

  • 2021/08/23: Started pre-conference science communication workshops, let by our partner Explainables.

  • 2021/08/17: Started official pre-conference activities with a proposal review panel introduction by Dr. Marc Neveu.

  • 2021/07/15: Breakthrough Listen and Greenspace joins as a sponsor/partner of AbGradCon2021!

  • 2021/07/12: Conference Details, Conference Schedule, Keynote Presentations, and Pre-Conference Activities updated.

  • 2021/06/30: Deadline for submitting the personal questionnaire to attend the meeting.

  • 2021/06/18: Application decisions sent to applicants.

  • 2021/04/17: As of the application deadline (2359 JST, April 17, 2021), the application has closed and evaluations began. We thank you for your timely submission.

  • 2021/04/15: Due to minor technical difficulties affecting some submissions, the AbGradCon 2021 Application Deadline has been extended to April 17, 2021 (2359 JST)!

  • 2021/03/19: The Abstract Application deadline is now April 15, 2021 (23:59 JST)

  • 2021/03/08: AbGradCon 2021 will now be a virtual meeting.

  • 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.

  • AbGradCon 2021 will be the first virtual format meeting in its history.

  • 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

  • AbGradCon 2021 will be a virtual meeting held via Zoom. We plan to hold two sessions each day (September 14-17, 2021), during the morning and late afternoon Japan Time, so that attendees can network with those from other timezones. Please see the schedule here.

  • All participants will submit a recorded oral presentation (12 minutes), accessible to all attendees via Youtube; some of these presentations have been selected for livestreaming during the conference. An opportunity to contribute a pre-recorded one minute "flash talk" will also be part of the meeting, giving each participant a chance to introduce their research.

  • We plan to have two keynote presentations on September 14th, one in the morning session and one in the afternoon session.

  • Additionally, discussions will be a major component of the meeting, and will focus on either larger questions in the astrobiology field, or on topics related to talks of that day's sessions.

  • Prior to the meeting, there will be a number of career-building activities for the participants, such as science communication workshops and a proposal review panel (dates TBD).

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

The Application for AbGradCon 2021 was April 17th, 2021 (23:59 JST), and has closed. We thank you for your applications!

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. Please see the detailed code of conduct here.

Sponsors and Partners


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)

Breakthrough Listen


SSOEL: Astrobiology-Japan

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

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