Astrobiology Initiative

UCSC Astrobiology Initiative Brings Science, Humanities, and Art Together to Study the Ethics of Space Sciences

Credit: Johns Hopkins APL

UC Santa Cruz’s Astrobiology Initiative is an interdisciplinary research collaborative dedicated to the study of the origin, evolution, and prevalence of life in the universe. By probing how life forms, identifying the markers life produces, and observing our local astronomical neighborhood, astrobiology brings a 21st-century approach to the puzzle of life: what processes give rise to complexity and self-awareness in the universe?

At the start of winter quarter 2021, the initiative will launch the Ethics and Astrobiology Reading group. As part of that project, and with the support of the Center-Scale Seed Funding provided by the UC Santa Cruz Office of Research, the initiative conducted an open competition for two graduate student research fellows to help catalyze activities at UC Santa Cruz related to the ethics of space sciences.  We are pleased to announce this year’s Astrobiology Ethics Fellows: Susanna Collinson and Matt Polzin, from the Arts and Humanities Divisions. 

Susanna Collinson is a PhD student in Visual Studies. She studies indigenous law, and is currently working on a project focused on the ethics and legalities of human interactions in outer space. Matt Polzin is a PhD student in Literature and a creative writer. He studies queer, trans and feminist speculative fiction, and is interested in astrobiology’s queer futures.

The Fellowships and the Reading Group are part of the Astrobiology Initiative’s commitment to involving the Arts and Humanities in science endeavors and training the next generation of students and scholars using practices that foster equity and inclusion. Together, Susanna and Matt will help direct the reading group’s studies and shape future collaborative activities under the guidance of UCSC Professor of Literature, Zac Zimmer.