Invited Speakers

Meet our invited speakrs!

Anna Hurova

Scientific researcher with wide interests in international and space law. Have 8-year experience in scientific and educational activity.
Successfully completed few scientific projects, including international devoted to legal support of space debris removal.

Jacobo Aguirre

Jacobo Aguirre graduated in Physics at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (1999). Since 2021, he has been leading the Complexity & Astrobiology Group at the Centro de Astrobiología CSIC-INTA, located in Madrid, Spain. Over the past two decades, his research has focused on the theoretical and computational study of complex physical and evolutionary processes in the context of chaos theory, astrobiology and viral evolution, making use of the tools of nonlinear dynamics, statistical mechanics and network theory. In addition, he has applied his results to other fields such as economics or social sciences. 

The road to life is punctuated by transitions toward complexity, from astrochemistry to biomolecules and eventually, to living organisms. Presently, Jacobo and his group are dedicated to establishing a formal connection between complexity theory and astrobiology to illuminate the origins of these transitions, as the potential of complexity and network theory in addressing this captivating challenge remains largely untapped. 

Jacobo has carried out research stays in Denmark, Germany and the United States, and in 2005 he was honored with the National Prize for Young Researchers in Theoretical Physics, awarded annually by the Royal Spanish Physics Society. He co-founded the Astronomical Group of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in 2001, and the technological company Complexity Killed the Cat S.L. in 2013. Each year, he delivers a course on Astronomy to senior students and engages in various outreach activities. He frequently collaborates on science-related topics in television, radio, and print media.

Personal webpage:

Google scholar:

Twitter: @JacoboAguirreA

Oskar Staufer

Oskar Staufer did his undergraduate and graduate work at Heidelberg University. Followed by a PhD with Joachim Spatz at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research working on bottom-up construction of cellular life forms. He subsequently performed postdoctoral work as a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Oxford working on synthetic immunology. Since 2022 hold a Emmy Noether Research Group Leader position at the Leibniz Institute for New Materials and the Max Planck Center for Minimal Biology.

Alexandra Pontefract

Dr. Alexandra Pontefract is a Senior Staff Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She is a geomicrobiologist interested in habitat generation through impact bombardment, life in cold and salty environments, as well as life-detection techniques and instrumentation. Dr. Pontefract has extensive Arctic field experience, and has served as science and instrument lead on several analog mission deployments. Currently she is working on biosignature detection in a range of hypersaline environments, specifically focusing on the limits of life as they pertain to water activity and chaotropicity, and is also pursuing research on the habitability of impact shocked basalts.

Cristina Puzzarini

Cristina Puzzarini is Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Bologna and Head of the ROT&Comp lab at the Department of Chemistry “Giacomo Ciamician”. Her main research lines are in the field of astrochemistry: from spectroscopic studies in support of astronomical observations, to the derivation of molecular abundances in space, to the investigation of interstellar chemistry and chemical evolution.

Kosuke Fujishima

Fujishima was born in Tokyo and spent his childhood in London, UK before moving back to Japan at the age of 10. In 2009, he obtained his Ph. D in Systems Biology from Keio University. Subsequently, he worked as a Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center with Dr. Lynn Rothschild and later became an ELSI Origins Network (EON) postdoc at Tokyo Institute of Technology. In September 2020, he began his current tenure-track position as an associate professor. He specializes in the cross section of astrobiology and synthetic biology with a main research interest in the origin and evolution of life on Earth

Paul B. Rimmer

Paul B. Rimmer received his B.S. in Physics from University of Colorado Denver and a PhD in Physics from The Ohio State University, studying under Eric Herbst. After two postdocs at University of St Andrews and University of Cambridge, Rimmer started his own group at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. His research is focused on planetary astrochemistry and the origins of life.

Piotr Siupka

Piotr Siupka is a member of the Microbiology and Environmental Biotechnology Research Group at the Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Protection, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. He obtained his MSc in biotechnology from University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland in 2010. Then he went to study at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Denmark and was awarded PhD degree in molecular biology in 2014. Following that he was postdoctoral researcher for 3.5 years at the Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Denmark. In 2017 he got back to the University of Silesia in Katowice where he started working on microbiology of coal related environments. His current research focuses on a number of aspects, including characterization of microbiomes, adaptation of microorganisms to extreme conditions, and biotechnological potential of the strain from these environments.

Jas Purewal

Jas Purewal has a Masters degree in Physics with Astrophysics. Since graduating she has been working as a research scientist for over 15 years and currently works as a senior scientist for a UK national lab. During her career she has also worked with several US national labs.

In 2020 during the pandemic, Jas built a low-fidelity “space dome” and conducted her own solo space analog mission, the first of its kind in the UK.

Jas is the co-founder of The Analog Astronaut Community and Conference.

Jas enjoys travelling, is a certified scuba diver and private pilot. She regularly plays tennis and has recently started learning the guitar.

Layla van Ellen
Monika Brandić Lipińska

Layla is passionate about the transition towards a sustainable built environment both on a theoretical and technical level, exploring long-term futures using extreme environmental contexts (such as Space Architecture) and new (bio)technologies to the advantages of the users -to rethink our relations with our ever evolving context. During her masters, she developed an affinity for researching and developing new materials to facilitate a more sustainable built environment. For example, she manufactured and built recycled plastic sunshade prototypes but also went into the lab to experiment and developed a new ice composite as part of her “Building on Mars: use of ISRU for a sustainable habitat” thesis research.

After her studies, she worked as a building consultant at ARUP Amsterdam and at ZRi The Hague where she learned practical aspects of indoor comfort and safety. She learned how to close the loops at a campus level and component level whilst working as sustainability consultant with the Campus Real Estate department and as young researcher within the Climate Design + Sustainability department at the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft. 

She is currently finishing her PhD with the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE) and her research aims to develop a new ontology for living, adaptable architecture using the vision and framework of Rhythmic Buildings she developed. She co-founded Bio-Futures for Transplanetary Habitats in 2021 and leads the project BIO-TRL.

Monika sees tremendous potential in biological solutions for developing our future on Earth and in space. She is discovering how merging architectural design with engineering, applications of smart materials, biomaterials and biotechnologies, provides new ways to manage construction, growth, repair, replication and energy savings. Through the integration of low technology readiness level construction systems and in-situ resource utilization, tightly intertwined with biological processes, her work focuses around advancing biotechnological methods to construct human-oriented and livable habitats in space and in extreme environments. Currently, Monika is pursuing her PhD at the Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment at Newcastle University. She researches biofabrication strategies for stabilising regolith using mycelium, to construct inhabitable structures, in resource-limited Martian conditions. The project is run in collaboration with the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) project – Myco-Architecture Off Planet – developed at NASA Ames Research Center. Her academic background consists of a Master in Architecture with specialization in Spatial Experiments at Lund University, focused on investigation into experimental architecture and design for extreme and space environments, and Master of Science in Space Studies at International Space University. She was also studying at Wroclaw University of Science and Technology and Politechnico di Milano, and was working in architectural offices in Tokyo, Copenhagen, San Francisco and Vienna. Since 2020 Monika is working with LIQUIFER – a trans-disciplinary group committed to innovative research and product development with space and terrestrial applications.

Rafał Szabla

Rafał obtained his PhD in Biomolecular Chemistry from the Masaryk University in Brno in 2017. He then worked as an Independent Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the Simons Foundation in the group of Prof. Andrzej Sobolewski (Institute of Physics, PAS, Warsaw) in years 2017-2019. In 2019, Rafał was offered his first independent academic position and he worked as a lecturer in computational organic chemistry at the  University of Edinburgh until mid-2021. He is currently an assistant professor and group leader at the Faculty of Chemistry, Wrocław University of Science and Technology. In his research Rafal focuses on prebiotic chemistry and computational studies of elementary prebiotic reactions that could have lead to the formation of RNA and DNA on Earth. Rafal‘s research interests also include computational photochemistry and studying the structures and dynamics of nucleic acids.

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