1. 2012 AbGradCon Research Focus Group Workshop

    Just prior to AbGradCon 2012, graduate students and postdocs from the US as well as several international institutions attended the 2012 Research Focus Group (RFG) from August 24-26. RFG 2012 was held on Catalina Island off the coast of LA at the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute, while AbGradCon took place in Pasadena, CA.

    The goal of this workshop was to work in groups to produce a NASA-style proposal in response to typical NASA science solicitations provided by the organizing committee.

    Prior to arrival the organizers provided three mock solicitations, based on the official Exobiology, Kepler Visiting Scientist, and Planetary Geology and Geophysics ROSES calls. After initial telecons held by organizers for the entire workshop group to explain procedures, the individual writing groups met through telecons, emails, and online interfaces SAGANet and Wiggio to determine which proposal call they would respond to, produce a Notice of Intent, and completed supplemental paperwork for the proposal (CVs, Current & Pending, budget worksheet, etc). This year was the first year where realistic budgets and additional documentation were featured. This preparation work was meant to expedite the proposal formatting and costing so that groups could focus writing the science portion of their proposals once the RFG weekend began.

    Eight groups of four people each produced intriguing, new collaborative science ideas. In the end, it was proposal #8 that came out on top, entitled “Characterization of Residual Biosignatures in Arctic Glacial Environments: A Remote Sensing Study for Biosignature Detection on Mars and Icy Worlds.” In addition to the collaboration, participants gained knowledge in proposal writing and panel reviewing through personal experience and a presentation from Exobiology Program Manager Michael New.