2009 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

EPO Activity: Dual Title Ph.D. Program in Astrobiology

Project Progress

Graduate students at Penn State are able to obtain a dual-titled Ph.D. in their primary field of endeavor and Astrobiology. The program enables students from several graduate programs to gain the perspectives, techniques, and methodologies of Astrobiology, while maintaining a close association with primary program areas of application. The program is chaired by Lee Kump (co-investigator) and administered by the Department of Geosciences. Five other Penn State Astrobiology Research Center (PSARC) co-investigators serve on its program faculty. Students take three core courses (Planetary Habitability, Astrobiology Field Experience and Astrobiology Seminar), a fourth course outside of their primary area of relevance to astrobiology, and must incorporate astrobiology into their candidacy and comprehensive examinations and their dissertation research. PSARC faculty teach all of the Astrobiology courses, and help fund the field experience and seminar classes. Nine students have graduated from the program, and there are currently five graduate students pursuing the dual-title Ph.D. in Astrobiology.