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Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe

Participants of the LCLU Annual Science Day

The Science Day aims to bring together research relevant to Life in the Universe across all departments in Cambridge in a series of talks, feature keynote and poster presentations.

This year the event took place on 15 March 2024 at King's College, The Keynes Lecture Theatre, Cambridge. Keynote speakers included Prof Nikku Madhusudhan, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and Dr Karina K. Nakashima, Rubicon Fellow, University of Strasbourg.

To read about reflections on the day see our news story.


Programme 2024

9:00 - 10:00      Registration & coffee
10:00                 Welcome by Dr Emily Mitchell
10:05 - 10:35    Keynote speech by Dr Karina Nakashima,
                          Coacervate droplets: minimal, yet complex protocells

10:30 - 11:00    Coffee break, Poster Presentations

Session I: On the search for life (11:00 – 12:00)   

11:00 - 11:15     Philipp Spillman
                           (History and Philosophy of Science)

                          What Does it Mean to Search for Earth-Like Life?

11:15 - 11:30     Princess Buma-at (Zoology) 
Putative algal microfossils from
                          the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation

11:30 - 11:45     Philip Vixseboxse (Earth Sciences)
                          An exogenous enzymatic control on
                          soft-tissue preservation in the early 
                          animal fossil record

11:45 - 12:00    Savvas Constantinou (Institute of Astronomy)
                          Exoplanetary Atmospheric Retrievals with Transit
                          Spectroscopy in the JWST Era

12:00 - 13:00    Break: Photo and lunch

 Session II:  Just like home? (13:00 - 14:00) 

13:00 - 13:15    Janna K. Mueller
                         (Department of History and Philosophy of Science)

                          Imagining Inhabitability and Classifying
                          the Cosmos: Early 19th Century Debates
                          on Extraterrestrial Life

13:15 - 13:30    Greg Cooke (Institute of Astronomy)
                          Lethal surface ozone concentrations are possible

                          on habitable zone exoplanets
13:30 - 13:45    Fred Simmons (Faculty of Divinity)
                         Fine-Tuning and the Philosophical Significance
                         of Life in the Universe

13:45 - 14:00    Edouard Barrier (Institute of Astronomy)
                         Convection in exoplanet atmospheres

14:00 – 14:30   Break: Coffee, poster presentations

Session III:  Forming, mining, and impacting worlds (14:30 – 15:30)        

14:00 - 14:15   Nathan Magnan (DAMTP) 
                           Planet formation by the streaming instability 
14:15 - 14:30   Laura Rogers (Institute of Astronomy)
                         Using polluted white dwarfs to probe
                         the bulk composition and geological history
                         of exoplanetary material

14:30 - 14:45   Catriona McDonald (Institute of Astronomy)
                         Delivering prebiotic feedstocks with
                         cometary impacts

14:45 - 15:00   Ross Findlay (Earth Sciences)
                         Understanding Early Formed Asteroids:
                         Correlating Petrography with Geochemistry

15:30 - 16:00   Break: Coffee, poster presentations

Session IV: From Spark to Species (16:00 - 17:00) 

16:00 - 16:15   Arsham Nejad Kourki
                         (History and Philosophy of  Science)

                         Transitions in Structural Complexity:
                         a new approach 
to the history of life on Earth
16:15 - 16:30    Ziwei Liu (Earth Sciences)
                          Can Manganese (II) promote prebiotically plausible
                          non-enzymatic RNA ligation reactions?

16:30 - 16:45    Lukas Rossmanith (Physics)
                          Investigating the impact of Stellar Flaring
                          on Nitroprusside formation

16:45 - 17:00    Euan Furness (Zoology)
                          The Neoproterozoic carbon cycle and the origin of animals 
17:00 - 17:30    Break: Coffee and posters
17:30 - 18:00    End of the Annual Science Day
                          Keynote presentation 
Prof Nikku Madhusudhan on 
                         The Hycean Paradigm in the Search for Life Elsewhere

18:00 - 19:30    Closing remarks, prizes and reception

The Programme for the event is also available to download.


For any questions please contact the organisers