10th ELSI
International Symposium

ELSI Past & Future

ELSI Past & Future

The 10th ELSI international symposium will be the last international symposium of ELSI (ELSI 1.0) during the WPI funded period. The symposium aims to synthesize our 10-year achievements to address the initial key questions for ELSI 1.0, including How did Earth and our planetary system form? How was life born as a consequence of Earth’s formation and evolution? How did the Earth-Life system evolve over 4.5 billion years? Are there other bioplanets in the universe? Through the symposium, we would also discuss the missions, visions, and goals of ELSI 2.0 after the WPI funded period. The key questions for ELSI 2.0 include How can we further tighten linkage Earth-Life science? How can ELSI be a leader for the global origins community? How can we be a self-propelled, science institute engaged by the public? While keeping existing approaches in ELSI 1.0 to understand key transitions toward the emergence of our Earth-Life system, we in ELSI 2.0 will try to understand/predict the possibilities of alternative “planet-life systems” to exist anywhere in the universe. We will discuss the science visions in ELSI 2.0 in this symposium. We are looking forward to your participation.


Dates: Wednesday-Friday, 12-14 January, 2022

Location: This will be a virtual event held online (see below for details about registering and connecting online)

Scientific Organizing Committee: The symposium is co-chaired by founding ELSI Director Kei Hirose and ELSI Vice Director Yasuhito Sekine.

Abstract of the Symposium: ELSI is a unique institute inspired and organized around the grand challenge of origin(s) of life and planets. As a permanent institute based at a university, it is a rare and special treasure for the many fields of study that are intimately connected to this big question.



  • Session 1-1. How did Earth form? (Chairs: Shigeru Ida, Hidenori Genda, Kei Hirose)

  • Session 1-2. How was life born? (Chairs: Jim Cleaves, Ryuhei Nakamura, Kosuke Fujishima)

  • Session 1-3. How did the Earth-Life system evolve? (Chairs: Shawn McGlynn, Yuichiro Ueno, Joe Kirschvink)

  • Session 1-4. Are there other bioplanets in the universe? (Chairs: John Hernlund, Nathaniel Virgo, Yuka Fujii)


  • Session 2-1. How can we further tighten linkage Earth-Life science? (Chairs: Eric Smith, Tomo Matsuura, Hiro Kurokawa)

  • Session 2-2. How can ELSI be a leader for the global origins community? (Chairs: Yasu Sekine, Piet Hut, Mary Voytek)

  • Session 2-3. What's the role of a research institute on Outreach & Science Communication? (Chairs: Thilina Heenatigala, Yasu Sekine, Christine Houser)

Schedule (Japan Standard Time)

Wednesday 12 January

Morning Sessions

  • 08:30-09:00 Kei Hirose (ELSI) The fate of Earth's water and the light elements in the core

  • 09:00-09:20 Shigeru Ida (ELSI) Where did the building materials of the Earth and its life come from?

  • 09:20-09:40 Miki Nakajima (Univ. of Rochester) Consequences of giant impacts on planetary evolution

  • 09:40-09:50 Break

  • 09:50-10:20 Kate Adamala (Univ. of Minnesota) Building life to understand its origins

  • 10:20-10:40 Junko Isa (ELSI) The Trial Balloon of Life

  • 10:40-11:00 TBA

Afternoon Sessions

  • 17:00-17:20 Maxim Ballmer (University College London) Formation and Crystallization of the Basal Magma Ocean in the light of Geophysical Constraints

  • 17:20-17:40 Hidenori Genda (ELSI) Formation of Earth and its early evolution

  • 17:40-18:00 Philippe Nghe (ESPCI Paris) The bases of self-reproduction

  • 18:00-18:10 Break

  • 18:10-18:30 Ryuhei Nakamura (ELSI) Chemiosmosis at deep-sea hydrothemal vents

  • 18:30-18:50 Kosuke Fujishima (ELSI) Exploring the protein-RNA interface

  • 18:50-19:00 Break

  • 19:10-19:40 TBA

Thursday 13 January

Morning Sessions

  • 08:30-09:00 Sarah Slotznick (Dartmouth College) Re-evaluating the 'whiffs of oxygen' near the Archean/Proterozoic transition

  • 09:00-09:20 Kazumi Ozaki (Toho Univ.) How has the primitive biosphere affected the atmosphere? 

  • 09:20-09:40 Yuichiro Ueno (ELSI) Atmospheric evolution of carbon species (CO2/CO/CH4)

  • 09:40-09:50 Break

  • 09:50-10:10 Stuart Bartlett (California Institute of Technology) Lyfe in the Universe and its Complicated Relationship with Complexity

  • 10:10-10:30 Harrison Smith (ELSI) What are we actually looking for when we look for life?

  • 10:30-11:00 TBA

Afternoon Sessions

  • 17:00-17:30 Elizabeth Tasker (ELSI) How unlike-Earth are Earth-like planets?

  • 17:30-17:50 Masahiro Ikoma (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) Formation, evolution, and detectability of diverse aquaplanet systems

  • 17:50-18:10 Lisa Kaltenegger (Cornell University) Earth's History as our key to find life in the cosmos

  • 18:10-18:20 Break

  • 18:20-18:40 Eva Stüeken (University of St. Andrews) The habitability of non-marine habitats on the early Earth

  • 18:40-19:00 Bernard Marty (CRPG-CNRS) The state and evolution of the atmospheres and oceans during the first 2 Ga

  • 19:00-19:10 Break

  • 19:10-19:40 Open discussion connecting Day 1 & 2 with Day 3

Friday 14 January

Morning Sessions

  • 08:30-08:50 Sukrit Ranjan (Northwestern University) Constraining Early Earth Environments to Understand Abiogenesis: Recent Efforts Towards Understanding Sulfur and Nitrogen Speciation and UV Irradiation in Terrestrial Waters on Early Earth

  • 08:50-09:10 Tomoaki Matsuura (ELSI) Bottom-up construction of synthetic cells and its relation to Earth-Life science

  • 09:10-09:30 Hiroyuki Kurokawa (ELSI) Earth-Life co-evolution: A perspective from volatile accretion and cycling

  • 09:30-09:40 Break

  • 09:40-10:10 Emily Therese Cloyd (AAAS) Empowering Researchers to Tell Stories about Their Science

  • 10:10-10:30 Tomohiro Usui (JAXA) JAXA's planetary exploration marching with the community

  • 10:30-10:50 Mary Voytek (NASA) ELSI's past and future contributions to Astrobiology

  • 10:50-11:00 Break

  • 11:00-11:20 Piet Hut (ELSI/Institute for Advanced Study) How the universe was built, inhabited, and understood

  • 11:20-11:40 Thilina Heenatigala (ELSI) ELSI's role on science outreach and communication

Afternoon Sessions

  • 17:00-17:20 Panel Discussion - What's the relevance of outreach at research institutes? - Moderator: Christine Houser (ELSI). Panelists: Euan McKay (UTokyo), Asako Hasegawa (WPI), Ayumi Koso (National Institute of Genetics, Japan), Daishi Matsukura (wov.), Tony Z. Jia (ELSI).

  • 17:20-17:40 Breakout Session

  • 17:40-18:00 Panel Discussion - What's the relevance of outreach at research institutes? - Moderator: Christine Houser (ELSI). Panelists: Euan McKay (UTokyo), Asako Hasegawa (WPI), Ayumi Koso (National Institute of Genetics, Japan), Daishi Matsukura (wov.), Tony Z. Jia (ELSI).

  • 18:00-18:10 Break

  • 18:10-18:40 Dieter Braun (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) Towards the first steps of Life in heated rock

  • 18:40-19:00 Shino Suzuki (JAXA/ISAS) How does an extreme environment drive microbial adaptive evolution?; A case of integrative studies of deep subsurface setting

  • 19:00-19:10 Break

  • 19:10-19:40 Keynote: Hitoshi Murayama (Univ. of California Berkeley) ELSI and Kavli IPMU sisters: moving beyond WPI

  • 19:40-20:00 Frances Westall (CNRS and ESA) The origin of life and the search for extraterrestrial life: ELSI's contribution

  • 20:00-20:20 Yasuhito Sekine (ELSI) Progress plan of ELSI 2.0

  • 20:20-20:35 Panel Discussion


All attendees are requested to fill the registration form. The zoom link to access the sessions will be emailed to registered participants.

Day 2 Questionairre

All attendees are welcome to contribute to the discussion at the end of Day 2 (Thursday, January 13) by filling out this questionnaire.

Code of Conduct

Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. All event attendees and staff have the right to a space that is free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, bullying, and/or retaliation. Participants who are requested to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. If you wish to report harassment, suspect that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the organizing committee as soon as possible.