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Luis Campos Named Astrobiology Chair at the John W. Kluge Center

Luis Campos will hold the fourth Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center. He will begin on Oct. 1, 2016, and be in residence for 12 months.

A historian of science, Campos is currently associate professor of history at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of "Radium and the Secret of Life" and is co-editor of "Making Mutations: Objects, Practices, Contexts."

While at the Kluge Center, Campos will use the Library collections to examine the intersection between astrobiology and synthetic biology. Synthetic biology, according to Campos, seeks to engineer novel forms of life. Astrobiology is interested in discovering novel forms of life.

"Both synthetic biology and astrobiology are fields deeply concerned with developing a comprehensive understanding of the full potential of living systems," Campos said. "My humanistic analysis will explore the historical and emerging contemporary connections between two of today’s most compelling fields of research in the contemporary life sciences."

Campos holds an appointment as a senior fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico. The author of numerous articles, lectures and conference papers on synthetic biology and the future of life, he has appeared on the Travel Channel, the Discovery Channel and PBS. Campos is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of the History of Biology and secretary-elect of the History of Science Society. He received his Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University and a master’s in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge.

The astrobiology chair at the Kluge Center is the result of 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 executed by the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the chair holder conducts research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic and societal implications.

One senior researcher is appointed annually to be in residence at the Kluge Center to use the Library’s collections in exploration of these questions and to convene related programs on astrobiology’s role in culture and society.

Campos will be the fourth scholar to hold the astrobiology chair. Previous appointments include astrobiologist and planetary scientist David Grinspoon (2012-2013); Steven Dick, former chief historian at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2013-2014); and historian of recent science Nathaniel Comfort (2015-2016).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States - and extensive materials from around the world - both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.

Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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