Charles Cockell

Biology Lead

Affiliation: University of Edinburgh


Charles Cockell is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology. His academic interests encompass life in extreme environments, the interactions of microbes with minerals and the implications for earth system processes and the habitability of extraterrestrial environments. He received his first degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Bristol and his PhD (DPhil) from the University of Oxford in molecular biology. He then undertook a National Research Council Associateship at the NASA Ames Research Centre in California before working at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. He moved to the Open University to take up a Chair in Geomicrobiology in 2005. He sits on ESA’s Planetary Protection Working Group. He is a Senior Editor of the journal, Astrobiology. Popular science books include ‘Impossible Extinction’ (CUP), which explores the tenacity of microbes on the Earth, and ‘Space on Earth’ (Macmillan) which looks at the links between environmentalism and space exploration. He is also author of the undergraduate text book, ‘Astrobiology: Understanding Life in the Universe’ published by Wiley-Blackwell. He is Chair of the Earth and Space Foundation, a non-profit organisation he established in 1994 and was first Chair of the Astrobiology Society of Britain.