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 fo 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 is RFG?

This year's RFG will be held at the Kemp Natural Resources Station in Woodruff, WI.

Kemp Natural Resources Station is a research and teaching facility run by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Located on 235 acres in the Wisconsin Northwoods, Kemp Station is home to a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals where ecological and conservation researchers are dedicated to preserving this environment and Wisconsin's natural resources. Kemp Station makes for an idyllic location to host RFG 2015, a respite from the distractions of the city and university, students will be able to reconnect with nature and hone their proposal writing skills.

Participants will be housed in the Lodge and Mead Residence Hall during the workshop, and meals will be provided by a local caterer.

Participation in the RFG Workshop

Although RFG 2015 is being held in conjunction with AbGradCon 2015, 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.


To participate in the RFG workshop you must be either:

1. A graduate student (Masters or PhD) or
2. A postdoctoral researcher within two years of obtaining your PhD

Participants from prior RFG workshops are welcome to apply as long as they still meet the eligibility requirements.


Lodging, meals, and travel between the RFG venue and RPI will be provided for all accepted participants. Participants funded to attend AbGradCon will be allowed to schedule a later departure flight from the area in order to participate in the RFG. All other participants are responsible for their own travel to/from the RFG venue.

Criteria for selection

1. Enthusiasm
2. Demonstrated interest in astrobiology
3. Promise as a researcher
4. Self-funding or AbGradCon Travel Grant

In order to have a successful grant writing workshop, we encourage both experienced and novice early career proposal writers to apply!