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Life in the Universe, Life in Small Places

August 26, 2013

Originally posted on Research & Collections:

I have the great fortune of being a professional scientist, where I can research, contemplate, and discuss the frontiers of exploring the early solar system. As Director of the Astronomy and Space Observation Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, I am now one of two astronomers at this growing institution of multiple disciplines. Much of my research involves analyzing spectral data from forming stars near to our own, that I collected in the recent past at Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

I am also an Assistant Professor at Appalachian State University, and I am currently in the first weeks of teaching a new crop of undergraduates about the science behind the search for life in the Universe, or astrobiology. The new semester marks the resurrection of an inevitable intellectual exercise into some of the fundamental questions that swirl about the search for life in space: What…

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