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Students Contest "Space Factor"
Since 2011, the EANA Students Contest "Space Factor" has been organized during the annual EANA Astrobiology Conference (contact person: Dr. Ralf Moeller, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, DLR). The contest is one of several EANA education and support activities for young scientists in Astrobiology.
At each EANA conference, a session is dedicated solely to the EANA students contest, where early-career scientists (PhD students or Post-Docs) present their research to all other participants of the conference, being evaluated by five different astrobiology experts.

Poster awards
It is a tradition of EANA to award prizes for the best posters presented by students and young scientists at the annual workshops. A distinguished team of astrobiologists evaluates the posters based the scientific and presentation quality.


From left to right: EANA president Frances Westall, students contest winners Felix M. Fuchs, Camilla Calabrese und Hannes L. Pleyer, together with students contest organizer Ralf Möller

1st prize
Camilla Calabrese, Università di Bologna, Dipartimento di Chimica "G. Ciamician", Italy
High Resolution Millimeter Wave Absorption Spectroscopy: from the laboratory data to the astronomical surveys

2nd prize
Felix Matthias Fuchs, German Aerospace Center (DLR e.V.), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiation Biology Department, Space Microbiology Research Group, Germany
Floating in space: Influence of simulated microgravity on Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation - An electron microscopic study for whole biofilm analysis

3rd prize
Hannes L. Pleyer, University of Hohenheim, Institute of Chemistry, Department of Bioinorganic Chemistry, Germany
Metalation of a Model Porphyrin in Simulated Primordial Tide Pools: Possible Prebiotic Formation of Porphyrin‐Type Cofactors

During EANA 16, all posters were evaluated by a jury consisting of K. Lehto, C. Muller, K. Finster, F. Westall, C. Panitz, S. Leuko and N. Holm.
The publisher Springer donated a book prize for all seven awardees. The winners were awarded by EANA`s President Frances Westall during the closing session of EANA 16.


From left to right: Marta Cortesao, Avinash Dass, EANA president Frances Westall, Marc-Nicolas Rentinck, Greta Lamers and Frederic Foucher


List of awarded posters in alphabetical order:
  • Marta Cortesao, co-authored by Ralf Möller
    Space Vacuum: The Spores’ Forgotten Menace?

  • Avinash Vicholous Dass, co-authored by Hickman-Lewis Keyron, Brack André, Kee Terence, Westall Frances
    Stochastic prebiotic chemistry within realistic geological systems

  • Frederic Foucher, co-authored by Nicolas Bost, Sylvain Janiec, Frances Westall, Pascal Perron, Aicha Fonte, Nicole Le Breton, Jianyu Li, Thomas Platel, Michel Tagger, Michel Viso, Pascale Chazalnoel, Frederic Courtade, Michel Villenave
    LithoSpace: an automated system for in situ petrographic thin section preparation on Mars

  • Pauli Laine
    Detecting biomarkers by means of teraherz remote sensing

  • Greta Lamers, co-authored by Stefan Leuko, Petra Rettberg
    Repair of polychromatic radiation induced DNA damage in the archeon Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1

  • Marc-Nicolas Rentinck, co-authored by Alessandro Airo
    Bioflumology: Cyanobacterial biomat morphologies under different fluid flow conditions

  • Jennifer Wadsworth, co-authored by Charles S. Cockell, Ralf Möller
    The double-edged sword of Iron oxides: Their protective and destructive effects on life on the Early Earth and present-day Mars

1st and 3rd prize winners of the contest with the jury members and organizer of the student contest:
Franco Ferrari, Jean-Pierre de Vera, Iulia Myrgorodska, Maximilian Mora, André Brack, José Eduardo González-Pastor, Frances Westall and Ralf Möller.
1st prize
Iuliia Myrgorodska, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France
Asymmetric photolysis of chiral molecules of prebiotic importance at synchrotron SOLEIL

2nd prize
Ruth-Sophie Taubner, Research Platform ExoLife, University of Vienna, Austria
A new method for quantification of methane production of hydrogenotrophic methanogens

3rd prize
Maximilian Mora, Center for medical research, Graz, Austria
The swimming behaviour of hyperthermophiles – or: how to survive potential early Earth conditions

During EANA 15, all 64 posters were evaluated by a jury consisting of H. Lehto, C. Cockell, P. Rettberg, J. Brucato, H. Cottin, D. Billi and K. Finster.
The publishers Springer and Cambridge University Press donated a book prize for all seven awardees. The winners were awarded by EANA`s President Frances Westall and Honorary President Gerda Horneck during the closing session of EANA 15.

Organizers, awardees and jury members of the poster award:
Gerda Horneck, Frances Westall, Iulia Myrgorodska, Simone Martini, Carlos Banchon, Lena Noack, Ralf Möller (for Marina Raguse), Krzysztof Rychert, Kai Finster, Felix Matthias Fuchs, Harry Lehto and Daniela Billi.

List of awarded posters in alphabetical order:
  • Iulia Myrgorodska, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France, co-authored by Cornelia Meinert, Pierre de Marcellus, Louis le Sergeant d’Hendecourt, Laurent Nahon and Uwe J. Meierhenrich
    Asymmetric photolysis of chiral molecules of prebiotic importance at synchrotron SOLEIL

  • Carlos Banchon, Microbial Systems Ecology, Department of microbiology, TU München, Freising, Germany / DLR, Köln, Germany, co-authored by Stefan Leuko, Petra Rettberg and Natuschka Lee
    The potential use of halophiles for environmental management on and beyond Earth

  • Felix Matthias Fuchs, German Aerospace Center, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiation Biology Department, Cologne, Germany, co-authored by Petra Rettberg, Joerg Stuelke, Delma Childers, Charles Cockell, Kai Finster, Ruth Hemmersbach and Ralf Moeller
    “Slime but fine” -- New insights about Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation and robustness under simulated space conditions

  • Simone Martini, University of Florence, Italy / Univerily of Leiden, Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands, co-authored by E.P.Monaghan and P.Ehrenfreund
    Biology of Mars Soil Analogues, Biomolecules preservation and their relationship with life

  • Lena Noack, Department of Reference Systems and Planetology, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Belgium, co-authored by Dennis Höning, Attilio Rivoldini, Clemens Heistracher, Nastasia Zimov, H. Lammer, Tim Van Hoolst and Jan Hendrik Bredehöft
    Water-rich planets: How habitable is a water layer deeper than on Earth?

  • Marina Raguse, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Radiation Biology Department, Cologne, Germany, co-authored by M. Fiebrandt, K. Stapelmann, P. Eaton, F. Narberhaus, P. Awakowiczand R. Moeller
    Plasma sterilization as an innovative tool for the next generation of planetary protection

  • Krzysztof Rychert, Department of Ecology, Pomeranian University in Słupsk, Poland, co-authored by Beata Mendrzejewska and Anna Kiestrzyń
    Dynamics of oxygen consumption during formation of the anoxic zone


All participants and judges of the 2014 Students Contest
From left to rigth: Daniela Billi, Giuseppe Gallo, Kirsi Lehto, Claudia Hahn, Rocco L. Mancinelli, Frances Westall, Bo Byloos, Katja Nagler (2nd prize), Sherry L. Cady, Alexandra Perras (1st prize), Charles S. Cockell, Corinna Panitz, Dagmar Koschnitzki (3rd prize), Ralf Moeller, Michaela Musilova, Claudia Pacelli (Image by Natasha Nicholson).

1st prize
Alexandra Perras, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Austria
Grappling hooks: The life style and ultrastructure of the SM1 Euryarchaeon which thrives in a Mars analogue site

2nd prize
Katja Nagler, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center, Germany
Analysis of Bacillus subtilis spore germination in high-salinity environments

3rd prize
Dagmar Koschnitzki, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center, Germany
Ignicoccus hospitalis shows high radiation tolerance although never exposed to it in its natural habitat


Find more information on http://www.dlr.de/me/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-1752/2384_read-41310.

During EANA 14, the 64 posters were evaluated by a distinguished team of astrobiologists consisting of Lewis Dartnell (UK), Kai Finster (Denmark), Kensei Kobayashi (Japan), Kirsi Lehto (Finland), Manesh Patel (UK) and Henry Strasdeit (Germany).
Thanks to the generosity of the publishers Springer and Cambridge University Press, each awardee received a recent book topical to astrobiology in addition to the poster prize document. The winners were awarded by EANA`s President Frances Westall and Honorary President Gerda Horneck during the closing session of EANA 14.

Picture of the winners of the poster award1, subsidiary colleagues2 and organizers3 of the 2014 EANA poster awards.

From left to right:

Jean-Pierre de Vera2 (for awardee Dennis Höning1), Gerda Horneck3, Frances Westall3, Casey Bryce1, Maximilian Mora1, Tetyana Milojevic1, Bo Byloos1and Dominic Papineau2 (for awardee Matthew S. Dodd1).

Image courtesy of Natasha Nicholson.

List of awarded posters in alphabetical order:
  • Casey Bryce, UK Centre for Astrobiology, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, co-authored by Sarah Martin, Thierry Le Bihan, Timothy Bush, Bryan Spears, Alanna Moore, Jesse Harrison, Natalie Leys, Bo Byloos and Charles Cockell
    Rock geochemistry drives stress and starvation responses in the bacterial proteome

  • Bo Byloos, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Belgian Nuclear Research Center SCK-CEN, Mol, Belgium, co-authored by Rob Van Houdt, Nico Boon and Natalie Leys
    Potential of Cupriavidus metallidurans CH34 for biomining from lunar-like basalt by determining the molecular mechanisms behind microbe-mineral interactions

  • Matthew S. Dodd, London Centre for Nanotechnology and Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, UK, co-authored by Dominic Papineau
    Biosignatures of early life in >3.8Ga Banded Iron Formations?

  • Dennis Höning, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany, co-authored by T. Spohn
    A Thermal Evolution Model of the Earth Including the Biosphere, Continental Growth and Mantle Hydration

  • Maximilian Mora, University of Graz, Austria, co-authored by Daniel Eckl, Michael Mauermeier and Christine Moissl-Eichinger
    ARBEX - Archaeal and bacterial extremophiles onboard the International Space Station ISS

  • Tetyana Milojevic, Archaea Biology and Ecogenomics Division, and Department of Biophysical Chemistry, University of Vienna, Austria, co-authored by Ziga Zebec, Simon Rittmann, Melina Kerou and Christa Schleper
    Iron-oxidising thermoacidophilic archaeon Metallosphaera sedula: insights into astrobiological application


All participants and judges of the 2013 Students Contest


1st prize
Jan Frösler
The influence of extracellular polymeric substances on the tolerance of Deinococcus geothermalis to the environmental conditions of space and Mars

2nd prize
Paloma Serrano
Methanogenic archaea from Siberian permafrost: response to simulated Martian conditions and biosignature description

3rd prize
Yuko Kawaguchi
Microbes in clay micro-particles collided with ultralow density silica aerogel at 4km/s can be detected by fluorescence imaging




In a half-day session on October 16th, 2012 the student contest “The Space Factor" was held for the second time, organized and chaired by Ralf Moeller (German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), Cologne, Germany)) and co-chaired by Oleg Gusev (National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Tsukuba, Japan). In the student contest, 10 young scientists, PhD students from different research fields covering chemistry, cosmology, mineralogy, microbiology and planetology, introduced themselves and their research with oral talk and a poster presentation to all conference participants. An interdisciplinary committee board (Kai Finster (Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark), Nils G. Holm (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden), Helmut Lammer (Space Research Institute, Graz, Austria), and Natalia B. Gontareva (Institute of Cytology, St. Petersburg, Russia) judged the contributions of all participating PhD students.
The EANA 2012 student contest was generously supported with several prizes (e.g. online journal subscription, Svante Arrhenius Astrobiology Award and prize money) by the Astrobiology Journal (Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.), DLR’s Radiation Biology Department and the Helmholtz Space Life Sciences Research School (SpaceLife), which is gratefully acknowledged here.

Picture of the participants1, reviewers2 and organizer3 of the 2012 EANA students contest "The Space Factor".

From left to right:
Ralf Möller3, Nils G. Holm2, Alfonso Delgado Bonal1, Kai Finster2, Ebbe Norskov Bak1, Siddharth Hegde1, Stefanie Lutz1, Mickael Baqué1, Petra Schwendner1, Natalia B. Gontareva2


Missing on the picture are:
Oleg Gusev3, Helmut Lammer2, Jan Marie Andersen1, Aristodimos Vasileiadis1, Arkadii V. Tarasevych1, Gayathri Murukesan1). Image courtesy of Marko Wassmann.


1st prize
Jan Marie Andersen (Københavns Universitet, Niels Bohr Institute, Centre for Star and Planet Formation, Copenhagen, Denmark / NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Boston University Astronomy Department, Boston, USA)
Talk and poster: M dwarfs as planet hosts: consequences of stellar activity on exoplanet detection
2nd prize
Petra Schwendner (Universität Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany / DLR Cologne, Germany)
Talk and poster: Monitoring of the microbial community during simulated flight to Mars
3rd prize
Mickael Baqué (University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy)
Talk and poster: BIOMEX-Desert Cyanobacteria: ground simulations of the EXPOSE-R2 mission


The posters presented at EANA12 were evaluated by co-chairs according to the scientific and presentation quality. Eight poster book awards were granted to the following recipients:
  • Siddharth Hegde for his poster "Colors of extreme exo-Earths environments"
  • Samuel Regandell for "Spectral synthesis for protoplanetary disk models"
  • Franz Leißing for "The thermal stability of tetrapyrrols: exploring the limits"
  • Veronika Grosz for "Continuous, in situ measurement of the altitude-dependent change of UV radiation and its effects on biological systems"
  • Lauri Nikkanen for "Origin of cellular life: The earliest genome was of eukaryotic type?"
  • Jun Kawai for "Self-assembly of Titan tholins in environments simulating Titan liquidospheres andits implication to formation of primitive membrane in Titan"
  • Engy Ahmed for "Soil Microorganisms and Mineral Weathering: Mechanics of Biotite Dissolution"
  • Joachim Meeßen for "Comparative studies on the morphological-anatomical, chemical, and physiological properties of four space-relevant lichen species to assess their high potential in resisting extreme environmental conditions"
The book awards were kindly donated by the publishers Springer and Cambridge University Press.


Award ceremony 2011

All participants 2011


1st prize
Anja Bauermeister (a PhD student from the University of Duisburg/Essen, Biofilm Centre, Essen, Germany and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Insititue of Aerospace Medicine, Radiation Biology, Cologne, Germany) gave the Best Young Researcher presentation, entitled
Could acidophilic iron-sulfur bacteria be suitable model organisms for Mars?
2nd prize
Francisco Javier Sánchez Iñigo, PhD student (from Earth Observation Department, INTA. Ctra. de Ajalvir, Km. 4, Torrejón de Ardoz, 28850 Madrid, Spain)
Presentation title: Resistance of Rhizocarpon geographicum to UV-B and UV-C radiation in a hydrated- and desiccated state
3rd prize
Aditya Chopra, PhD student (from The Australian National University, Planetary Science Institute, Canberra, Australia)
Presentation title: What do the elemental abundances tell us about the universality of life?


The posters presented at EANA11 were evaluated by co-chairs according to the scientific and presentation quality. Five poster book awards were granted to the following recipients:
  • Ana-Catalina Plesa for her poster "Thermo-chemical evolution and the atmospheric evolution of terrestrial planets"
  • Aditya Chopra for his posters "What do the elemental abundances tell us about universality of life?" and "Elemental insights into the site of the origin and early evolution of life on Earth"
  • Lena Noack for her poster "Plate tectonics on Earth-like planets: Implications for habitability"
  • Shin-ichi Yokobori for his poster "Capture and space exposure experiments of microorganisms on the ISS orbit proposed in "TANPOPO" mission"
  • Gopal Pathak for his poster "A novel DNA repair enzyme from Acinetobacter sp. Ver3 isolated from an extreme environment"
The book awards were donated by the publishers Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Springer, and Wiley VCH, which is highly appreciated.