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Casual Space

Feb 15, 2024

Jan Spacek is an explorer both on Earth and beyond. He has worked in the fields of astrobiology, electrochemistry, nanoscience, genomics, and proteomics searching for life within our solar system. Jan is an astrobiologist working with renowned scientist Steven Benner on expanding the genetic alphabet.  In this episode of Casual Space, Jan discusses his transition to astrobiology, his work on projects related to the search for life on Mars and Venus, and the potential for private space missions. Jan explains the importance of planetary protection, the challenges of distinguishing between Earthly contamination and Martian life, and the implications of discovering life for future human missions. 

When he’s not looking for life on Mars, or why Venus is yellow, Jan is busy freediving or bicycling across Australia. (!) 

Follow Jan’s critical thinking about life in the universe at The Primordial Scoop, a blog devoted to discussing questions related to synthetic biology and astrobiology and asking the big questions about where life began and how. 

Jan has worked in the field of electrochemistry of modified and natural DNA at the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Central European Institute of Technology. He has also visited the Ege University (Izmir), the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (Aarhus), the Department of NanoEngineering at UCSD, and the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (Alachua). He presently develops life detection devices, from coronavirus to Venusians and Martians, at the Firebird Biomolecular Sciences LLC. Outside of science, Jan bicycled around the Baltic Sea and across the Australian continent, 7500 kilometers in all. Jan earned a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics and a Ph.D. in Genomics and Proteomics (both at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic).