CNRS-ENS-UA International Research Center iGLOBES
Paris Sciences & Lettres Research University
Interdisciplinary Program on Origin and Conditions of Appearance of Life

« BIOCOSMOS – Our Sense of Place, Our Sense of Life in the Universe”

Workshop organized at the University of Arizona by Dr. Perig Pitrou (Collège de France/PSL Research University, Paris), Dr. Istvan Praet (University of Roehampton, London), Dr. Regis Ferriere (University of Arizona and ENS/PSL Research University, Paris) and Dr. Kevin Bonine (University of Arizona)

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February 1-2, 2018, at Biosphere 2

Planet scientists and exoplanet astronomers are re-shaping our understanding of the universe, presenting a fascinating cosmos filled with places and destinations, not an empty void. At the same time, Earth physicists and biologists design models of self-sustainable ecosystems such as Biosphere 2 and the Lunar Greenhouse, with the goal of engineering bio-regenerative mini-worlds that can function on their own. As these scientific revolutions unfold, with distant spaces and global life systems as objects of “field work”, what counts as the “human environment”? How do we, as individuals and societies, relate to spaces, things, and processes we do not or cannot experience directly and which we see as “extreme” or “beyond” human? As scientists study these distant spaces and global processes, how do their findings transform our understanding of what it means to be in the world? How do inquiry and insight change our outer space imagination and the way we comprehend Earth on a whole, planetary scale? Will all this impact how our societies confront today’s environmental challenges?

Tackling these big questions requires off-the-beaten-path dialogue among anthropologists, space scientists, and Earth system researchers. To promote this conversation, the International Research Center iGLOBES (CNRS-UA-ENS UMI 3157) and Paris Sciences & Lettres Research University (Program OCAV, Origins and Conditions of Appearance of Life) organize a two-day workshop at Biosphere 2, on February 1-2, 2018.

To attend please register
by sending an email to Ms. Ruth Gosset at
with your name, department, institution, day(s) you plan to attend.

Day 1 (Thursday, February 1) will be devoted to the question of how we, humans, use our perception and understanding of life and nature on global Earth to design, engineer and use ‘mini-worlds’ – miniaturized artificial ecosystems that can function on their own and help us meet some of our most pressing global challenges, such as food production, climate control, clean water, and safe energy beyond current environmental or economic limits.


8:30-9:00              Welcome coffee/tea

9:00-9:15              Opening remarks by workshop organizers.

9:15-10:15          John Adams (UA Biosphere 2)

Biosphere 2: Concept, reality, implications

10:15-11:15       Peter Troch (UA Hydrology & Biosphere 2)

Experimenting on the Earth system with LEO

11:15-12:15       Gene Giacomelli (UA Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering) The Mars/Lunar Greenhouse: From Design to Function

12:15-1:00           Break

1:00-1:45             Perig Pitrou (Collège de France/Paris Sciences-Lettres University)

Life as a Making: Modeling, Miniaturization and Figuration of Living Systems

1:45-2:00             Coffee break

2:00-4:30             Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Session moderated by Joffrey Becker (Collège de France/Paris Sciences-Lettres University): Life Systems, Models, and Machines

2:00-2:15             Joffrey Becker (Collège de France/Paris Sciences-Lettres University)

Introduction: CyberPhysical Systems

2:15-2:30              Yadi Wang (University of Arizona)

Soil genesis in LEO artificial hillsopes

2:30-2:45              Elsa Abs (ENS/Paris Sciences-Lettres University & Univ. Arizona)

Modeling the soil-atmosphere connection by evolving microbes

2:45-3:00              Coffee break

3:00-3:15              Leah Aronowsky (Harvard University)

Multispecies Spaceflight

3:15-3:30              Boris Sauterey (ENS/Paris Sciences-Lettres University)

Modeling the co-evolution of ecosystems and planet habitability

3:30-3:45              Blair Bainbridge (University of Chicago)

Life in the Great Silence

3:45-4:30             Roundtable discussion with Greg Barron-Gafford (School of Geography and Development and Biosphere 2, University of Arizona) and workshop presenters and organizers.

Posters on display by Greg Barron-Gafford (U. Arizona), Erana Loveless (U. Arizona), Katarena Matos (U. Arizona), Antonio Meira Neto (U. Arizona), Aditi Sengupta (U. Arizona).

Day 2 (Friday, February 2) will bring together astronomers and planetary scientists, environmental biologists, anthropologists and philosophers to tackle the questions of what counts as the “human environment”, what it means to be in the world, and how we comprehend Earth in its globality, in the light of observation and exploration of distant spaces that revolutionize our understanding of the universe.


9:00-10:00           Coffee / Ice breaker / School students meet speakers

10:00-10:10        Opening remarks by Dean Joaquin Ruiz (UA Biosphere 2)

10:10-10:50        Valerie Olson (UC Irvine, Anthropology)

Ecosystems as Objects of Study and Collaboration: Lessons from the Ethnographic Field

10:50-11:30        Dante Lauretta (UA, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory)

Planetary Exploration and Our Understanding of Life

11:30-11:50        Discussion

11:50-12:30        Break

12:30-1:10           Marcia Rieke (UA, Astronomy)

Characterizing Exoplanets: What Do We Know?

1:10-1:50              Istvan Praet (University of London at Roehampton, Anthropology)

Petri dishes, Islands and Planets. Astrobiology and the Modelling of Biospheres

1:50-2:10              Discussion

2:10-2:50              Lisa Messeri (Yale University, Anthropology)

Being Elsewhere: Analog Fieldwork and the Planetary Imagination

2:50-3:30              Chris Impey (UA, Astronomy)

Our Future in Space

3:30-4:00              Discussion and closing

After workshop ends, participants may consider visiting the Kuiper LPL Art of Planetary Science on UA main campus, 5:00-9:00 PM. The exhibit continues on February 3 and 4, 1-5PM. More information at


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