Just 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 2016 marks the 12th 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 (see the 2015 AbSciCon conference website), and as stand-alone conferences. Since it is organized and attended by only graduate students, post docs, and select undergraduates ( see below ), 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 2015 conference website to see what's happened in the past.



Where is AbGradCon 2016 being held?

AbGradCon 2016 is being held on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder (CU). Conference talks will be held in the Cofrin Auditorium (ATLS 100) of the Roser ATLAS Building.

When is AbGradCon 2016?

The Technical Program for AbGradCon 2016 runs from July 24 - 27. Participants should plan to arrive by Sunday afternoon, July 24th, if they wish to attend the welcome reception and dinner. Departures are planned for July 28th.

What accommodations are available?

Participants will be housed in university housing (dorms or apartments). Stay tuned for more details.

How do I get to the conference?

Most participants will find it convenient to fly in Denver International Airport (DIA). DIA is a hub for Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines (and is served by other airlines). The Regional Transportation District (RTD), the regional authority operating mass transit services in the Denver metropolitan region, provides bus transportation from DIA to the University of Colorado Boulder for a fee via the “Skyride” AB/ABA route ($9, one way).

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. We recommend that everyone takes the “Skyride” AB/ABA route from Denver International Airport to Boulder (roughly a 1 hour ride). We will send out information prior to the conference on how to get to the dorms and conference meeting spaces from the bus stops that are served by the Skyride bus. The Skyride costs $9, each way, and they do not give back change (so having the exact fare in cash is best). Keep receipts for these rides as well for later reimbursement submission.

What does the schedule look like for the conference?

Sunday, July 24 - Participants will arrive in Boulder throughout the day. The conference will start with a welcome dinner followed by a keynote talk given by a CU Boulder faculty member.

Monday, July 25 - First day of research talks. Poster talks will also be given throughout the day during coffee breaks. The evening activity will be pub trivia and board games.

Tuesday, July 26 - Second day of research talks. Poster talks will also be given throughout the day during coffee breaks. The evening activity will be a night at Fiske Planetarium and Sommers-Bausch Observatory.

Wednesday, July 27- Field trip day. The day will begin with a public speaking workshop. Participants will then be bused to Dinosaur Ridge to examine stromatolites and other preserved biosignatures. This will be followed by a trip to Bear Creek Lake Park. The final dinner will be followed by a keynote talk delivered by Alexis Templeton.

How do I get around Boulder?

Much of Boulder is within walking distance to the CU campus. Boulder also has an excellent mass transit system, but participants will likely need to pay for this themselves.


The application for AbGradCon 2016 is now available! The deadline for submission is April 1, 2016.

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 2016 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 comes from a grant from NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).

What sort of funding will be available?

Most of the costs for attending AbGradCon 2016 should be covered for all invited participants. This includes travel (airfare, travel to and from airport), lodging, and meals. 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?

Unfortunately, we will likely be unable to fund international student travel (although those with other sources of funding are welcome to apply!).


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?

Talks are likely to be 10-12 minutes, followed by 2-3 minutes of discussion. Participants are strongly encouraged to save their presentations as PDFs to ensure compatibility. More information will be available soon.

What is the format for posters?

Poster sessions will be interspersed with research talk sessions in the morning and afternoon of July 25 and 26. Participants will be asked to stand by their posters during one of these sessions, and will have the other sessions to view the other posters. A more specific format for the posters (dimensions) will be available soon.



Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to submit an abstract for selection to compete in a poster competition. Participants may present either original research they have done or an idea they have developed related to astrobiology. Graduate students associated with these projects will bring and display these posters at the conference, where a subset of participants will judge the poster contest. The winner of the competition will be presented with a prize.