2010 Annual Science Report
University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting | SEP 2009 – AUG 2010
Quantification of the Disciplinary Roots of Astrobiology
While astrobiology is clearly an interdisciplinary science, this project seeks to address the question of how interdisciplinary it is. We are reviewing published works across a broad range of scholarly databases, comparing disciplinary indicators such as subject terms, journal titles and author affiliations, and creating a computational model to identify and compare the makeup of astrobiological research literature in terms of the proportion of work that come from constituent fields.
We have identified the most relevant databases of scholarly literature in astrobiology and related fields, crafted initial search strategies designed to isolate a core corpus of astrobiology publications across multiple databases, and have continued work on a term co-occurrence analysis to relate the literature of astrobiology to relevant work from diverse fields. Initial results across diverse subsets of our corpus of astrobiological literature suggest that astrobiology does demonstrate a fairly unique disciplinary profile. While most fields have a dominant subfield corresponding to 50% or more of its literature, our initial results suggest that astrobiology’s dominant field, astronomy, accounts for only about 30% of its works, followed by near-equal distributions of geological, chemical and biological sciences.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:Rich Gazan
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 1.1
Formation and evolution of habitable planets.
Indirect and direct astronomical observations of extrasolar habitable planets.
Outer Solar System exploration
Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts
Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules
Origins of energy transduction
Origins of cellularity and protobiological systems
Earth's early biosphere.
Production of complex life.
Effects of extraterrestrial events upon the biosphere
Environment-dependent, molecular evolution in microorganisms
Co-evolution of microbial communities
Biochemical adaptation to extreme environments
Effects of environmental changes on microbial ecosystems
Adaptation and evolution of life beyond Earth
Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials
Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems