Upcoming Meetings

International Conference on Astrobiology Science Conference 2006: March 26-30, 2006 in Washington, D.C.

AbSciCon 2006 builds on the successes of these previous meetings. Astrobiology is a novel approach to the scientific study of the living universe. It seeks to understand the origin and evolution of life on Earth, to determine if life exists elsewhere in the universe, and to predict the future of life on Earth and in the rest of the universe. To this end it relies on the diversity of disciplines and has inspired new meta-disciplines. Abstracts are solicited on all topics that span the enormous range of astrobiological themes. The meeting format will include a limited number of plenary talks that will complement a larger number of oral presentations in parallel thematic sessions. As has always been the case at previous AbSciCon's, the poster sessions, including the NAI sponsored Student Poster Competition, will continue to be a particularly important and successful venue for the exchange of scientific ideas.

Eukaryotic Evolution, April 6, 2006

This meeting will bring SGM members up to date on developments in eukaryotic evolution and theories for eukaryogenesis that have occurred since the highly successful meeting –Evolution of Microbial Life” in Warwick in March 1996. Since then the ribosomal RNA tree has come under severe criticism for its picture of early eukaryotic evolution and the concept of primitively amitochondriate eukaryotes has suffered devastating setbacks. New ideas for eukaryotic origins and diversification have resulted. Darwin's idea of a "tree linking all the great kingdoms of nature" has come under scrutiny with widespread HGT revealed by genomics suggesting a net may be a more appropriate description than a tree. Methodological progress in probing the deep past of the eukaryotic cell has even suggested that genome fusion played a key role in eukaryogenesis. Secondary endosymbioses leading to photosynthetic lineages is more widespread than previously appreciated and in some cases may lead to novel therapies for major killers like Malaria. In his 1973 essay "Nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution" Dobzhansky claimed that "evolution is a light which illuminates all facts" - does this hold up for a key eukaryotic system - the eukaryotic cell cycle.

Snowball Earth Conference, Ascona, Switzerland 16-21 July 2006

The Snowball Earth hypothesis is one of the most intriguing and controversial research topics in the geological sciences. The hypothesis aims to reconcile a range of observational data regarding Neoproterozoic successions, including the association of glacial and glacially influenced facies with isotopically-light 'cap' carbonates at relatively low, or equatorial belt palaeolatitudes. The existence of low-latitude glaciation during the Terminal Proterozoic is not a new concept, however, considerable research over the past two decades has amassed a wealth of data, particularly with regard to the isotope geochemistry of cap carbonates, geochronological constraints on the timing of glaciation, and palaeomagnetic studies. The possibility that the evolution of 'complex' multicellular organisms could have been initiated by an environmental catastrophe on the scale of global or near-global glaciation has also spurred research in micropalaeontology and molecular biogeochemical studies. The Snowball Earth hypothesis tests our understanding of Earth surface processes, ocean-cryosphere-atmosphere interactions and ultimately climatic stability. Given these implications, the accurate identification and characterisation of Neoproterozoic glacial epochs is essential, not only for geological reconstruction, but also in establishing the boundary conditions for climate change on Earth.

Contributions on all aspects of 'Snowball Earth' research are welcome, including (but not limited to) sedimentology, chemostratigraphy, palaeoceanography, numerical climate modeling, geochronology, palaeomagnetism, palaeogeography, geodynamics, tectonics, palaeontology and molecular biogeochemistry. The technical sessions will include both poster and oral presentations, 'breakout groups' and round table discussions to evaluate key issues