What is AbGradCon?

AbGradCon (Astrobiology Graduate Conference) provides a unique setting for astrobiologically-inclined graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, collaborate, and network. AbGradCon 2019 marks the 15th 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.

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 select 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. Take a look at the AbGradCon 2018 conference website to see what's happened in the past.



Where is AbGradCon 2019 being held?

AbGradCon 2018 will be hosted by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference venue and attendee lodging will be at the University of Utah Guest House & Conference Center.

When is AbGradCon 2019?

The Technical Program for AbGradCon 2019 runs from July 22nd - 26th, while the Proposal Writing Retreat (PWR) will be held on July 19th - 22nd. The program begins at 6 pm on Monday, June 22nd. Participants should plan to arrive on time. If necessary, we can help arrange affordable accommodations the night of Sunday, July 21st if you cannot arrange to be in town on time on Monday, July 22nd. There is no financial support to offset this cost, however, it should be minimal. Please contact us ASAP if these accommodations are needed. The science program ends with the closing dinner on the evening of Thursday, July 25th. Participants will depart throughout the day on Friday, July 26th.

What accommodations are available?

Participants will stay in double occupancy rooms at the University of Utah Guest House & Conference Center (110 Fort Douglas Blvd) in Salt Lake City, UT.

How do I get to the conference?

The Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) has many direct and connecting flights every day. To get to the University Guest House from the airport, TRAX light rail public transportation, Lyft, Uber, or taxi are recommended.

Follow the signs from baggage claim at the airport to get to the UTA station. At the station, you will have to purchase a ticket from the machines. A one-way fare will cost you $2.50. The airport is the final green line stop, therefore you can only take TRAX towards the West Valley Central. You will need to change to the red line towards University Medical at Courthouse Station (10 stops). You will then take the red line to the University Medical Center TRAX Station (8 stops). From here the Guest House is a short walk (0.3 miles).

Travel and Reimbursement

Please keep all of your receipts from your travel to and from the conference. Travel reimbursement forms will be handed out during the conference. At the end of AbGradCon, you will turn in those forms and the relevant receipts for reimbursement. Please note that reimbursable air travel should be on US carriers.


The AbGradCon 2019 application will be available around mid-December 2018 and due March 15th, 2019.

Who can apply?

In general, AbGradCon is intended for graduate students, as well as early-career researchers and postdocs within 2 years of their graduation. Undergraduates who are entering a graduate program in Fall 2019 will be considered first-year graduate students. Exceptional senior undergraduates with research experience have attended AbGradCon in the past, but priority will be given to graduate students and early-career researchers for both funding and presentation slots.

What kinds of talks and posters are you looking for?

Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary field. Participants will be asked to submit abstracts under one of 8 categories: astronomy, biology, chemistry, education, engineering, geology, planetary science, and society. These will then be evaluated by a member of the organizing committee who has expertise in one or more of these areas.

How are abstracts selected?

Abstracts will be evaluated based on their scientific merit and appeal, novelty, and applicability to astrobiology. Other factors will include clarity of the abstract itself (grammar and readability), as well as an applicant’s ability to provide partial or full travel support.


Where does AbGradCon get its funding?

The bulk of the funding for AbGradCon 2019 comes from a grant from NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), with supplemental support from additional sources.

What sort of funding will be available?

We have secured significant funding to defray the costs of attendance for as many applicants as possible. Substantial aid for travel, housing, meals, and registration is available to those with demonstrated need. Participants who arrive and/or depart outside the windows outlined in the schedule will be responsible for their own lodging and food outside of the conference.

What kind of funding is available to international students?

Our funding sources restrict our ability to provide assistance to international participants. At this time, it is recommended for all interested international participants to apply and to indicate their level of funding requirements to attend. We will allocate any funds which are available to defray international participation costs among these applicants, however we are unable at this time to provide any estimate as to the level of funding that will be available.


Should I apply to present a talk or a poster?

We strongly encourage all participants to apply to give oral presentations, as one of the best features of AbGradCon is an incredibly low-pressure environment in which to practice oral presentation skills. However, due to time constraints, we won’t be able to assign all participants to a talk, and those with abstracts in oversubscribed fields may be asked to present a poster.

What is the format for talks?

We'll have a dedicated presentation laptop. You won't be allowed to present using your own laptop.

The presentation laptop will be a Mac with PowerPoint and PDF capabilities (we may also be able to accommodate Keynote). There will be a special link to upload your presentation ahead of time. All presentations must be uploaded a half-day before hand (so Tuesday morning presenters must have their talks uploaded by Monday evening). It is highly-likely the projector will support native 16x9 aspect ratio slides (to be confirmed).

Everyone is required to upload a PDF of their presentation, either as the primary presentation mechanism (recommended) or as backup. There will be time during breaks to check how your talk displays on our system. You may upload auxiliary media files (i.e. audio/video) as well if needs be. A microphone and laser pointer will be provided.

All talks are live-streamed via SAGANet, and will be uploaded to the NASA Astrobiology YouTube channel by default. When you upload your talk, there is an opt-out form where you can request that your talk not be uploaded to YouTube if you so desire.
All talks are 15 minutes long + 5 for questions, with the exception of Warm-up Talks, which are 10 minutes long and will not take questions (as a general rule).

What is the format for posters?

Posters can be up to 48 x 36 inches (122 x 91 cm) landscape (that is 4 feet is the width limit). You can do whatever you want within that space.

Undergraduate Participation

Any undergraduate students wishing to apply to AbGradCon should submit an application to the undergraduate poster conference.