DAbG - Board

Board members:

Prof. Dr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch (chair)

Dirk Schulze-Makuch is Professor of Planetary Habitability and Astrobiology at the Technical University of Berlin. He studied geology at the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, and received his PhD in geosciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA. He then worked as a Senior Project Hydrogeologist at Envirogen, Inc. before accepting a position as Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. During this time he was also a Faculty Fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He then went to Washington State University as a professor and finally to the Technical University of Berlin. In 2011, Dirk Schulze-Makuch received the Friedrich-Wilhelm Bessel Award from the Humboldt Foundation for outstanding achievements in the field of theoretical biology. In addition to his position in Berlin, he is an adjunct professor at Arizona State University and Washington State University. His research is in the larger field of planetary habitability and astrobiology, in which he has published 10 books (the most recent "The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds") and nearly 200 scientific articles. The most recent research focus is the Dry Limit of Life project.



Dr. Jean-Pierre de Vera (vice chair)

Jean-Pierre Paul de Vera teaches at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biology at the University of Potsdam and is head of the Astrobiology Laboratories research group at the Institute of Planetary Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). He studied biology at the University of Düsseldorf, where he received his doctorate in 2005. After two post-doctoral years and research stays at the University of Viterbo, Italy, the INTA in Madrid, Spain and the Open University in Milton-Keynes, UK, he moved to the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin Adlershof in 2009, where he headed a research group on "Water and Life under Extreme Conditions" as part of the Helmholtz Alliance "Planetary Evolution and Life" until 2013. He then became head of the astrobiology laboratories at the same institute and is still in charge of the ESA space experiment BIOMEX on the International Space Station ISS. In his research, Dr. de Vera is interested in polar research, astrobiology, especially the habitability of planets and moons, the origin, evolution and spread of life and the detectability of biosignatures in the extra-terrestrial/terrestrial environment. The focus is on planetary analog field studies and experimental planetary simulation in the laboratory and in space. In his lectures, he covers the topics of botany for geoecologists, ecophysiology and astrobiology, which he offers as part of his habilitation at the University of Potsdam.



Prof. Dr. Christian Mayer (vice chair)

Prof. Dr. Christian Mayer is Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He studied chemistry at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Cincinnati (USA). He obtained his doctorate in 1990 on "Biological Model Membranes" at the University of Stuttgart and then joined the Central Research Department of Hoechst AG in Frankfurt. After working for a subsidiary of Celanese in Winona, USA, he returned to Frankfurt as group leader. In 1996, he accepted an appointment as Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Duisburg. Since 2006, he has been Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Faculty of Chemistry at the Essen campus. His research has always focused on soft matter with an emphasis on biological cell membranes and biopolymers, in particular their investigation using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy methods. Since 2010, he has increasingly focused on questions of self-organization of soft matter, in particular the spontaneous formation of vesicles, capsules and protocells. His current work focuses on long-term experiments in which the spontaneous formation of cell-like structures is observed and can be understood as the first step towards the emergence of life.










Prof. Dr. Dirk Wagner (treasurer)

Dirk Wagner is Head of the Geomicrobiology Section at the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) and Professor of Geomicrobiology and Geobiology at the University of Potsdam. He studied biology at the University of Hamburg, specializing in microbiology, genetics and soil science. He received his doctorate in 1998 from the Institute of Soil Science at the University of Hamburg in the field of soil microbiology. After a two-year postdoctoral phase, he moved to the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam in 2000, where he set up the "Geomicrobiology in Periglacial Regions" working group. In 2007, he habilitated in "Microbial Ecology" at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biology at the University of Potsdam. Five years later, he moved to the GFZ and accepted the appointment to his current professorship at the Institute of Geosciences at the University of Potsdam. In his research, he is interested in the development and distribution of microbial life in extreme terrestrial habitats such as permafrost, deserts and the deep biosphere. He investigates the dynamics and processes of microbial communities and the associated complex geological-biological interactions. In addition, he regularly isolates and describes new microorganisms, which are then tested in simulation experiments for their survival under extreme conditions, such as those prevailing on Mars. Among other things, his teaching deals with the adaptation of microorganisms to extreme environmental conditions in an astrobiological context.



Dr. Janosch Schirmack (secretary)


contact: j.schirmack[at]tu-berlin.de

homepage: https://www-astro.physik.tu-berlin.de/Astrobiology/node/26

Prof. Dr. Henry Strasdeit (honorary member of the board)

Henry Strasdeit is a retired professor of bioinorganic chemistry and chemical evolution at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart. He studied chemistry at the University of Münster, where he obtained his doctorate in 1985. After a postdoctoral year at the University of Leiden, Netherlands, he moved to the University of Oldenburg, where he established his own research group, habilitated in 1993 and was appointed adjunct professor in 2000. After a period as a visiting professor at the University of Vienna, he accepted a professorship at the University of Hohenheim in 2002. He has been retired since October 2023. Henry Strasdeit works on chemical aspects of astrobiology (chemical biosignatures, chemical evolution). Trained as an inorganic chemist, he is particularly interested in the influence of metal ions, minerals and rocks on astrobiologically relevant processes. He is also interested in chemical-instrumental analysis, bioinorganic chemistry and astrobiological topics in general. Henry Strasdeit is a founding member of the German Astrobiological Society and was one of its deputy chairmen from 2017 to 2023. He has been an Honorary Adviser to the DAbG Board of Directors since 2023.