Institute Day, Xaverian Brothers High School

Tuesday, April 4, 2017  ||  6:00PM - 7:45PM

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The Science & Theology of Origins of Life & Extraterrestrial Life


Karin Öberg, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University 


Karin Öberg’s academic passion is the connection between planet formation, astrochemistry and origins of life. Her research aims to uncover how chemistry and physics interact during star and planet formation to shape the bulk and organic compositions of nascent planets. A major focus is the origins of chemical complexity in space and how organic material is distributed in planet-forming disks around young stars. Her research group approaches this research question through laboratory experiments, aimed at simulating the chemistry and physics of interstellar grain mantles, radio and infrared observations (often at high spatial resolution), and astrochemical theory. 

Dr. Öberg left Sweden for Caltech in 2001, where she matriculated with a B.Sc. in chemistry in 2005. Four years later she obtained a Ph.D. in astronomy, with a thesis focused on laboratory astrochemistry. In 2009 she first moved to the Harvard-Smithsonian CfA with a Hubble fellowship, focused on millimeter observations of protoplanetary disks, and left in 2012 to join the University of Virginia chemistry department. In 2013 she returned to Harvard as an assistant professor in astronomy and was promoted to associate professor in 2016. At the CfA she is affiliated with R&G, SSP and ITC. Dr. Öberg’s research in astrochemistry has been recognized with a Sloan fellowship, a Packard fellowship and the Newton Lacy Pierce Award.

The Science and Theology of Origins of Life and Extraterrestrial Life

Earth is the only place in the Universe where we know life exists. Yet scientists suspect that life is common in our Galaxy, and perhaps even in our Solar System. This suspicion is closely tied to our understanding of how, and how fast life originated here on Earth. I will present our scientific understanding of Origins of Life on Earth, as well as the astronomical observations that exist of other planets, and what these are telling us about the likelihood of life elsewhere. We will then explore both how the scientific narrative of life’s origin fits with the biblical narrative, and how the potential existence of aliens impact our understanding of God’s special relationship with humanity.





6:00 PM Opening Prayer - Welcome 

6:05 PM Keynote Address, Part I 

Dr. Karin Öberg

6:40 PM Break with Refreshments

6:50 PM Keynote Address, Part II

Dr. Karin Öberg

7:25 PM Question & Answer Session

7:45 PM Conclusion


Location - Directions

Xaverian Brothers High School,  800 Clapboardtree Street,  Westwood, MA 02090

Click here for directions.


Registration is Required

Through the generous support of the John Templeton Foundation and free of charge for teachers.  To register please click here.

 For more information, please email, call 781-326-6392 or register for the Institute Day.