Hosted by Te Ao Mārama – Centre for Fundamental Inquiry, this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series 2019 at University of Auckland are three evening of lectures and a panel discussion is themed ‘Perspectives on Life in the Universe’.

Are we alone? Is there life elsewhere? How did life begin? Explore the Biggest Questions of all with world-leading scientists in the 2019 University of Auckland Vice Chancellor’s Lecture Series.

Hear about how new developments in astrobiology, astrophysics and fundamental science are expanding our understanding of the origin and evolution of the Universe, from the Solar System to ‘exoplanet’ worlds so far away they almost defy imagination.

Come join us for these fascinating lectures and a panel discussion hosted by Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill on the latest thinking about alien life and how we might find it.

Time: 6pm
Dates: as per individual listings below
Venue: Fisher & Paykel Appliances Auditorium
Location: Sir Owen G. Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland Central

Lecture 1 | Discoveries of Extra-Solar Planets and the Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial Life

Thursday 5th September

Professor David Bennett

The idea of life on other planets was confined mostly to science fiction until 1995 when the study of planets orbiting other stars became a key area of astronomy. In this fascinating lecture Dr David Bennett from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre and the University of Maryland talks about his work to detect and study these distant ‘exoplanets’ and NASA’s plans for future space missions to find Earth-like exoplanets with signs of life.

Panel discussion | Fundamental Questions on Life in the Universe

Tuesday 10 September

Chaired by Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand

What is life? How did it begin from non-living stuff? Where did it start? What can life as we know it and its evolution tell us about possible extraterrestrial life on other planets? Is there an Earth version 2.0 out there somewhere? These and other fundamental questions will be explored by Kim Hill (RadioNZ) and a panel of experts.


Lecture 2 | Searching for Alien Life in the Solar System

Wednesday 11th September

Professor Maria-Paz Zorzano

How exactly are scientists tackling the search for extraterrestrial life in all the nooks and crannies of our Solar System? In this talk, Professor Maria-Paz Zorzano from the Astrobiology Center of the National Institute of Aerospace Technology talks about what life needs to survive and flourish and reviews past, present and future missions to find aliens.

Lecture 3 | Letting Life Happen: from Particles to People

Friday 13th September

Professor Richard Easther, University of Auckland

From a physicist’s perspective, there are two truly fundamental ingredients for life: material that is able to support complex systems and a universe that can supply the energy needed to sustain it. World-leading cosmologist Professor Richard Easther will talk about our current understanding of particle physics and cosmology and how this shapes our thinking on the existence and persistence of life in the universe and when — and where — it can form.  

About Te Ao Mārama – the Centre for Fundamental Inquiry

We are interested in questions that promise to transcend disciplinary boundaries: what is the origin of life? Is our own universe part of a much larger multiverse? What types of planets circle other stars in our galaxy? These questions are characterised by being very easy to ask but remarkably hard to answer. Our goal is to inspire researchers to tackle these topics and foster collaboration between them, transcending disciplinary boundaries.



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