About IPL

A highly interdisciplinary team of scientists at Johns Hopkins University, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the Applied Physics Laboratory combine their expertise to address fundamental questions about the origins, evolution, and prevalence of life in the universe. In addition to providing guidance for research, the team administers graduate and undergraduate lecture courses on these topics.

The institute also hosts the Planets, Life, and the Universe (PLU) Lecture Series, which brings high-profile speakers from prominent universities and organizations to campus to discuss current topics in astrobiology. The presentations are available live and as webcasts online.

Planets, Life, and the Universe Lecture Series

The Planets, Life, and the Universe Lecture Series is supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Department of Biology and the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Johns Hopkins University, and the Ernst Cloos Memorial Fund.

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4 Oct 2019
Prebiotic Chemistry and the Origins of Life: What We Know and What We Don’t

Henderson (Jim) Cleaves (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Carnegie Institution of Washington) The field of astrobiology, the effort to understand the origin, distribution and future...

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1 Nov 2019
The Preservation, Distribution, and Detectability of Lipid Biomarkers in the Atacama Desert and Implications for Mars

Mary Beth Wilhelm (NASA Ames Research Center) Desert environments on Earth are colonized by organisms adapted to desiccation. However, the limits of adaptation are not well understood. ...

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6 Dec 2019
Reconstructing Life History Before LUCA

Gregory P. Fournier (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Origin of Life studies primarily consist of two sets of inferences:  bottom-up, which infer plausible scenarios of...


Our Research Areas

Artist concept disk of clouds and dust


Photo from atop the Panamint Range looking down to the east towards Badwater Basin in Death Valley.


Atacama Desert



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