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Iceland… Land of fire and ice… and possibly microbes that may be like those in space…

I won’t lie, I was nervous, nervous to leave my 3-year-old for the longest I had yet (a whole week!), and nervous for my first real trip abroad since before I went on maternity leave in 2018 and the pandemic of course… !

19th May 2023

World Poetry Day 2023

This poem is dedicated to my recent findings of novel microbial species from a brine prepared from natural magnesium sulfate crystals, which is chemically similar to the sulfate-rich brines of early Mars.


You can listen to it here


A “NOVEL” Story of Life in Salt 


21st March 2023

National Apprenticeship Week

This week is National Apprenticeship Week 2023, and we’d like to give a BIG shout out to our apprentices. We have two apprentices working for AstrobiologyOU. Weronika is our Microbiology Technician Apprentice. She is working on her Level 3 Laboratory Technician apprenticeship with Tiro. Jitka is our Laboratory Technician and is working on her Level 6 Laboratory Scientist degree apprenticeship with Kent University.

10th February 2023
Anthony pipetting on to a device connected to laptop that is displaying the results.

My experience training to use Nanopore's MinION

Oh wow, what an experience! Hi, I`m Anthony Scales and I have recently attended a weeklong training with Exeter sequencing service focusing on using Nanopore`s MinION. Though before I get stuck into telling you about the experience, I`d first like to introduce myself as I`m a guest within the University of Exeter. I am a research technician with AstrobiologyOU at the Open University, Milton Keynes, where we aim to address the scientific, governance and ethical challenges associated with astrobiology. To do this we are looking to answer questions within four key themes:

12th August 2022

My time as an OU Intern with AstrobiologyOU

I have been working at AstrobiologyOU as an intern since May 2022. I had made my final submission for my bachelor’s degree – Geography and Environmental Sciences – on the 1st of June. My job role was ‘Outreach Coordinator’, in which I worked in the public relations field of AstrobiologyOU. I have learnt much during the three months which I have spent with AstrobiologyOU.

20th July 2022
Karen Olsson-Francis standing at the podium introducing the day

Reflections on AstrobiologyOU's Research Celebration Day

Celebrations, success and joy all around! AstrobiologyOU’s Research Celebration Day was a great success! The group came together to present, share and join in with this delightful time. Gently, the sun’s soft rays enveloped the campus while the cool wind delicately blew between the buildings and the walkway – a beautiful combination giving a mellow warmth. The day begun with arrival and registration in a room just by the Hub Theatre – pretty pastries and comforting coffees were served in a wide variety of flavours from cinnamon to custard.

20th July 2022

What do scientists really do? My experience interviewing researchers

My name is Inka and I am currently in Year 11, about to sit my GCSE exams. I've been participating in the Girls’ Network Programme for a year now, which is set up to match high school students like me with mentors who share their interests and can help develop their career goals. Through this programme, I have been exposed to many amazing opportunities such as this work experience. Along with my mentor, we interviewed an array of scientists, involved in several areas of research and at different stages of their career.

10th March 2022

Dinosaurs, dystopia and things from outer space.*

I absolutely love reading for pleasure. I am rarely without one or more books on the go - I usually read crime or spy fiction and my non-fiction shelf is history, Cold War, apocalyptic themed (I wrote this blog before the current situation when this wasn’t so terrifying) - but I will read most things with two exceptions. Firstly, fantasy and especially Harry Potter. A solid no from me. I have read all of the Artemis Fowl books and HIs Dark Materials, and enjoyed them, but that’s as close as I’ve got and the Potter hype was just too much. Secondly, sci fi.

3rd March 2022

Why Does AstrobiologyOU Have Space Lawyers?

55 Years ago today, the Outer Space Treaty opened for signature. By historical coincidence it’s the same day as the Apollo 1 fire, which perhaps made Article V’s duty to render assistance to astronauts in distress more poignant.

27th January 2022

Astrobiology summer school: becoming a team online

In October 2020 I started my PhD with AstrobiologyOU at the Open University. Like many others starting PhDs during this time, I have been faced with the somewhat isolated world of working as a researcher from home.  As someone who loves any opportunity to meet people with similar interests to me, the weeklong AstrobiologyOU and STFC summer school sounded like the perfect chance to get to know people in my field. However, I wasn’t fully convinced by the concept of an online workshop.

8th March 2021

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