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Jose Aguilar-Rodríguez

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In the beginning there was science fiction. Jules Verne and Herbert George Wells, the fathers of the genre. Then was the science with Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould. The nexus was Isaac Asimov with his wonderful stories of cerebral adventures and fantastic scientific essays. They opened my eyes to the immense beauty of science as a method and showed me the scientific attitude to the universe and the rewards that science offers us in the form of understanding and wonder. So I will be forever grateful to them. Currently, if science is the matter of my thought, science fiction is the matter of my dreams.

Since then I am captivated with space. Paraphrasing Darwin, I think there is grandeur in the view that science gives us about the emergence and subsequent evolution of life by natural selection on a tiny planet like a speck of dust lost in the vastness of deep space. Knowledge about our cosmic habitat, with the temporal and spatial grandeur of the universe, has entered my understanding of biology.

I think that understanding the phenomena of life from a cosmic perspective was my main motivation to start studying Biology at the university (and this year I am very enthusistic to start Physics too). Another important motivation was the challenge to the scientific activity that is the biological complexity. And last but not least, another motivation was my passion for evolutionary biology, the study of a process that enriches with diversity and beauty the living world.

For all that, Astrobiology, the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe is a discipline that attracts me a lot. I find amazing the basic questions that addresses astrobiology: how life began and evolved?, does life exists elsewhere in the universe?, and in connection with my love for science fiction: what is the future of life on Earth and beyond?. But among the goals of Astrobiology that most interested me are the first two: the origin of life and its evolution.

Perform experimental and theoretical investigations to understand how life emerges and how past life on Earth interacted with its changing planetary and Solar System environment is an area of research that I find very interesting. Also study the historical relationship between Earth and its ancient biota, the origins and the development of key biological processes and their environmental consequences during the early history of Earth.

Regarding the Synthetic Biology I am very interested in the bottom-up approach, in the research involving protocells; because I think (as Jacques Loeb and many other first than me) that trying to reproduce the living phenomenon in a lab is a good way to improve our knowledge about its nature.