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Evolution Beyond Earth

Thursday, June 1, 2017
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST

Thanks to evolution, your body is exquisitely adapted to survive on Earth—and, as far as we know, nowhere else. But while humanity’s past is firmly grounded on our home planet, the humans of the future may live on the moon, Mars, or interstellar ships bound for distant worlds. To prepare for this cosmic migration, today’s scientists are exploring how living in space affects the human body—right down to DNA—and whether we might tweak our own genome to enhance our ability to live beyond Earth. Come explore the biological future of humanity, as a new era of evolution beckons.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Stuart FiresteinNeuroscientist

Stuart Firestein is the chair of Columbia University’s department of biological sciences where, along with his colleagues, he studies the vertebrate olfactory system, possibly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet.

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Chris MasonGeneticist

Dr. Christopher Mason is currently an Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, with appointments at the Tri-Institutional Program on Computational Biology and Medicine between Cornell, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University, the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, and the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute.

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Caleb ScharfAstrophysicist

Caleb Scharf’s research career spans cosmology, exoplanetary science, and astrobiology. He currently leads efforts at Columbia University in New York to understand the nature of exoplanets and living environments in the universe.

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Ting WuGeneticist

Ting (C.-ting) Wu is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is also Director of the Consortium for Space Genetics and Director of the Personal Genetics Education (pgEd.org) Project. She received her B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a recipient of the NIH Director’s 2012 Pioneer Award for her laboratory’s work on genome organization and inheritance.

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