BIOCOSMOS: Our Sense of Place, Our Sense of Life in the Universe

The workshop was organized by the OCAV (Origin and Conditions of Appearance of Life) program at Paris Sciences-Lettres Research Université and the CNRS-ENS-Arizona International Center for Interdisciplinary and Global Environmental Studies (iGLOBES). It aimed at breaking through disciplinary boundaries by bringing together a mix of astronomers, Earth scientists, ecologists, and anthropologists to discuss how our understanding of life and nature as integrated systems advances and evolves as we become able to assemble and control complex artificial ecosystems on Earth, prepare to send and use such ecosystems on the Moon and Mars, search for alien life and ecosystems on other planets and planetary bodies, and push the boundaries of our exploration of the distant universe. 

February 1, 2018


The first day of the workshop focused on the design and control of complex model ecosystems. 

  • Opening remarks by Régis Ferrière, ENS-PSL Université/University of Arizona, and Kevin Bonine, University of Arizona, with from UA:
    • John Adams, Biosphere 2: concept, reality, implications, and
    • Gene Giacomelli, The Mars/Lunar greenhouse: from design to function
  • Elsa Abs, ENS-PSL Université/University of Arizona, Modeling the soil-atmosphere connection by evolving microbe
  • Leah Aronowsky, Harvard University, Multispecies spaceflight
  • Blair Bainbridge, University of Chicago, Life in the great silence
  • Joffrey Becker, Collège de France-PSL Université, The closed ecologies of cyber-physical systems: a case study
  • Perig Pitrou, Collège de France-PSL Université, Life as a making. Modeling, miniaturization and figuration of living systems
  • Boris Sauterey, ENS-PSL Université, Modeling the co-evolution of ecosystems and planet habitability
  • Yadi Wang, University of Arizona, Incipient soil genesis from basalt as measured in LEO soil lysimeter

February 2, 2018


The second day of the workshop focused on how breakthroughs in space science and exploration affect our understanding of life and nature as an integrated system.

  • Opening remarks by Joaquin Ruiz, Biosphere 2 Director, Dean of Science, University of Arizona, followed by
    • Valerie Olson, UC Irvine, Eco-systems as objects of study and collaboration: lessons from the ethnographic field
  • Chris Impey, University of Arizona, How strange can life be?
  • Lisa Messeri, Yale University, Being Elsewhere: Analog fieldwork and the planetary imagination
  • Istvan Praet, University Roehampton, Petri dishes, islands and planets. Astrobiology and the modelling of biospheres
  • Marcia Rieke, University of Arizona, Characterizing exoplanets: what do we know?


Kevin Bonine, Biosphere 2/University of Arizona

Régis Ferrière, iGLOBES International Research Center/CNRS, ENS, University of Arizona

Perig Pitrou, Collège de France/Paris Sciences-Lettres Université

Istvan Praet, University of Roehampton in London