"Bioastronomy: Search for Extraterrestrial Life" was established as Commission 51 of the IAU in 1982. The objectives of the commission include: The search for planets around other stars; The search for radio transmissions, intentional or unintentional, of extraterrestrial origin; The search for biologically relevant interstellar molecules and the study of their formation processes; Detection methods for potential spectroscopic evidence of biological activity; The coordination of efforts in all these areas at the international level and the establishment of collaborative programs with other international scientific societies with related interests. In 2006, Commission 51 was renamed simply "Bioastronomy" at the IAU General Assembly in Prague, and approved for the next six years. For a report on the C51 business meeting at the Prague IAU, please click on the image below.

Bioastronomy at the IAU General Assembly

The Business Meeting of C51 on Bioastronomy was held at the IAU General Assembly, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday, August 12, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm, in Room 5 of the Convention Center SulAmerica. Presentations were given about the plans for the first joint meeting with ISSOL in 2011 (see below) in Montpellier, France, and about the previous Bioastronomy meeting, held in 2007 in Puerto Rico (see below). Please click on the image below to see the report of the Business Meeting.

Bioastronomy 2011 Meeting

The next meeting of Commission 51 will be held jointly with the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life: The International Astrobiology Society (ISSOL) in Montpellier, France, on July 3-8, 2011. Janet Siefert, president of ISSOL, and C51 look forward to this experiment in uniting two major segments of the international astrobiology community. Please plan on attending this first joint meeting. For a link to the meeting web site (still under construction), please click on the image below.

Bioastronomy 2007 Meeting

One of the main activities of Commission 51 is to organize a Bioastronomy meeting every three years. The 2007 meeting was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from July 16-20, 2007. For a link to the meeting web site, please click on the image below.

Commission 51: Bioastronomy Officers (2009-12)

President: William Irvine (United States)

Vice President: Pascale Ehrenfreund (Netherlands)

Past President: Alan Boss (United States)


Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd (France)
Sun Kwok (Hong Kong)
David Morrison (United States)
Stephane Udry (Switzerland)
Cristiano Cosmovici (Italy)

Commission 51: Bioastronomy Officers (2006-09)

President: Alan Boss

Vice President: William Irvine

Past President: Karen Meech

Members of Organizing Committee (and year in which term began)

Name Year E-mail Address
Dr. Alan Boss (USA) 2003 boss(@dtm.ciw.edu) Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution, 5241 Broad Branch Road, N. W., Washington, D.C. 20015-1305, USA
Dr. Cristiano Cosmovici (Italy) 2004 cosmo(@ifsi-roma.inaf.it) Istituto Fisica dello Spazio, INAF, Roma, Italy
Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund (The Netherlands) 2004 pascale(@strw.leidenuniv.nl) Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, Einsteinweg 55, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Dr. William Irvine (USA) 2006 irvine(@fcrao1.astro.umass.edu) University of Massachusetts, 619 Lederle Graduate Res. Center, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Dr. Karen Meech (USA) 2001 meech(@ifa.hawaii.edu) Institute for Astronomy, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Dr. David Latham (USA) 2000 dlatham(@cfa.harvard.edu) Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., MS 20, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Dr. David Morrison (USA) 2004 david.morrison(@nasa.gov) NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
Dr. Stephane Udry (Switzerland) 2004 stephane.udry(@obs.unige.ch) Observatoire de Geneve, 51, chemin des Maillettes, CH-1290 Sauverny, Suisse



Dates Meeting Location
Jul 3-8, 2011 Bioastronomy/ISSOL 2011 Montpellier, France
Jul 16-20, 2007 Bioastronomy 2007 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Jul 12-16, 2004 Bioastronomy 2004 Reykjavik, Iceland
Jul 8-12, 2002 Bioastronomy 2002 Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Aug 2-6, 1999 Bioastronomy 1999 Big Island, Hawaii
Jul 1-5, 1996 Bioastronomy 1996 Capri, Italy
Aug 16-20, 1993 Bioastronomy 1993 Santa Cruz, California
Jun 18-23, 1990 Bioastronomy 1990 Val Cenis, France
Jun 22-27, 1987 Bioastronomy 1987 Balaton, Hungary
Jun 18-21, 1984 Bioastronomy 1984 Boston, Massachusetts


Any IAU member who is interested in becoming a member of Commission 51 should write or e-mail the President of the Commission with a brief note regarding his/her interest in the work of the Commission.

The applicant will be provisionally accepted for membership and will thereafter be sent all communications. The application will be forwarded to the Organizing Committee and formal approval of the application will be made at the Commission business meeting at the following IAU General Assembly.

Applications for membership in the IAU are invited about a year before each General Assembly (the next General Assembly is in 2012), through the national Adhering Organizations. In the US, application forms are provided in the AAS Newsletter. Normally, minimum requirements are a Ph.D. plus 2-3 years experience in astronomical research resulting in a few publications in refereed journals, but it is up to the US National Committee to prioritize the applications they receive before making their proposals for membership to the IAU.

The IAU Secretariat's mailing (and e-mail) address is:


Institut d'Astrophysique

98bis, bd. Arago

F-75014 Paris (France)

Tel: (33) 143258358

Fax: (33) 143252616

E-mail: iau@iap.fr.

IAU homepage: http://www.iau.org

Last updated: 18 August 2009