Texas Tech professor appointed Library of Congress chair in astr

Texas Tech professor appointed Library of Congress chair in astrobiology

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

(Press Release)

The Library of Congress announced Monday (Aug. 20) the appointment of Texas Tech University faculty member Bruce Clarke as the sixth Baruch S. Blumberg Chair in Astrobiology.

The astrobiology chair at the John W. Kluge Center is a collaboration between the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress. It is named for Baruch “Barry” Blumberg, the late Kluge Center Scholars Council member, Nobel Laureate and founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Funded by NASA and managed by the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the program encourages holders of the Blumberg Chair to conduct research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic and societal implications.

Clarke, the Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Literature and Science in the Texas Tech Department of English in the College of Arts & Sciences, will be in residence at the Kluge Center for a period of 10 months beginning in December. His research focuses on 19th- and 20th-century literature and science, with special interests in systems theory, narrative theory and ecology. At the Library of Congress, he will work on a project titled, “Astrobiology, Ecology and the Rise of Gaia Theory.” The Gaia theory postulates that the Earth’s living and nonliving components form a self-regulating planetary system; this provides a model for understanding viable conditions on our home planet and for the detection of life on other worlds.

A key component of Clarke’s research will be to study the work of the late American evolutionary thinker Lynn Margulis. Her collaboration on the Gaia hypothesis with the British atmospheric chemist James Lovelock received crucial NASA funding in its formative decades. The Library of Congress has been collecting Margulis’ papers since her election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983.

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