Rensselaer Astrobiology Research and Education Center Curriculum Page

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Astrobiology Minor

The School of Science offers a multidisciplinary minor in Astrobiology for students in related majors. To be eligible for the minor, students must pass the 3-credit course ASTR 4510 Origins of Life – A Cosmic Perspective, and at least two semester of the 1-credit seminar ISCI 4510 Origins of Life Seminar. The cornerstone of the Astrobiology minor is a 4-credit research project related to a topic in Astrobiology that is completed under the supervision of a faculty member engaged in Astrobiology research. Finally, students must complete a further two courses outside their major field of study. Details of eligible courses depending on the student major field of study can be found in the RPI catalog.

Questions regarding the minor in Astrobiology can be directed to Prof. Karyn L. Rogers at


ISCI 4510 – Origins of Life Seminar, 1 Credit hours

Discussion of current issues relevant to origins of life research in astrophysics, biology, chemistry, and earth and planetary sciences.

ERTH/ASTR 4510 – Origins of Life: A Cosmic Perspective

To understand the origin of life is a fundamental goal of science. This course discusses evidence for important prebiotic molecules in the clouds from which new planetary systems are born, and compares cosmic and terrestrial sources of such molecules on primitive Earth. The course is multidisciplinary, covering topics in physics, astronomy, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, and biology.

ERTH 2160 – Introduction to Geobiology

This course focuses on the co-evolution of life with Earth’s systems and targets students in Earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics. Topics include the emergence and early evolution of life on Earth, the environmental limits of life, microbial and metabolic evolution; the role of life in moderating global elemental cycles; earliest records of life; evolution of photosynthesis and the Great Oxidation Event; fossilization and evolution of complex life; mass radiations, mass extinctions and global changes.

Related Courses

Coming soon.