Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund

Pascale Ehrenfreund is the President of the International Space University and Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Space Policy Institute/George Washington University in Washington DC. She is also the President of the International Astronautical Federation IAF and Visiting Professor at Leiden Observatory.

Since three decades she contributed as Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator and Teamleader to ESA and NASA astronomy and planetary missions as well as experiments in low Earth orbit and on the International Space Station. 

Pascale Ehrenfreund served as the Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) between 2015-2020 and the President of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) from 2013-2015.

Pascale Ehrenfreund holds a Master degree in Molecular Biology, a PhD in Astrophysics, and a Master degree in Management & Leadership.

The asteroid “9826 Ehrenfreund 2114 T-3” bears her name.

Academic Education

  • 2008 M.A. Management & Leadership
    Webster University, Leiden
  • 1999 Habilitation in Astrochemistry
    University of Vienna
  • 1990 PhD Astrophysics
    University of Vienna and University Paris VII, Groupe de Physique des Solides
  • 1988 M.S. Molecular Biology
    University of Vienna and Austrian Academy of Sciences, Salzburg

Professional Experience

  • 2021- President, International Space University, Strasbourg, France
  • 2008- Research Professor, Space Policy & International Affairs,
    Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, USA
  • 2006- Professor, Astrobiology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands
  • 2015-2020 Chair of the Executive Board, German Aerospace Center
  • 2013-2015 President, Austrian Science Fund FWF
  • 2008-2017 Lead Investigator, NASA Astrobiology Institute, Node Wisconsin
  • 2005-2008 Distinguished Visiting Scientist/Consultant, JPL/Caltech, Pasadena, USA
  • 2004-2005 Professor, Astrobiology, University of Leiden, Institute of Chemistry, The Netherlands
  • 2003-2004 Professor, Astrobiology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2002-2008 Adjunct Professor, Univ. Nijmegen, Institute of Astronomy, The Netherlands
  • 2001-2003 Associate Professor, Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands
    2019 Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, France

Memberships in Academies and Committees (currently active)

  • 2021- Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, Full Member
  • 2020- Member: World Economic Forum, Global Future Council on Space
  • 2020- Special Advisor: Foresight, European Commission
  • 2020- External Review Committee (ERC), MIT Portugal Program
  • 2019- President, International Astronautical Federation IAF
  • 2018 Honorary Member, Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace

Research Expertise and Teaching Interest

Astrophysics, Molecular Biology, Space Policy, Science and Technology Policy

  • Interstellar chemistry (galactic and extragalactic)
  • Development and operation of space simulation facilities for interstellar and planetary research (including cryo-, ultrahigh vacuum and radiation techniques)
  • Spectroscopy database management of ices and organics
  • Identification of organic molecules on planetary surfaces, comets, asteroids and meteorites
  • Organics and life detection on Mars
  • Support to instrument development for life and organic detection
  • Prebiotic chemistry
  • Field analogue research in extreme environments (Atacama desert, Utah) in support of planetary exploration
  • Space Policy aspects of Global Space Exploration, Earth-Space synergies

Publications per August 2021

Publications in peer-reviewed journals: 206 h-index: 70
Invited reviews, book chapters and conference papers: 134 Edition of books: 12

Selected publications in peer-reviewed journals:

  • P. Ehrenfreund, S.B. Charnley, S.B. (2000) “Organic molecules in the ISM, comets and meteorites: A voyage from dark clouds to the early Earth, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics”, 38, p. 427-483
  • P. Ehrenfreund, W. Irvine, L. Becker, J. Blank et al. (2002) “Astrophysical and astrochemical insights into the origin of life”, Reports on Progress in Physics 65, 1427
  • P. Ehrenfreund, S. Rasmussen, J.H. Cleaves, L. Chen (2006) “Experimentally tracing the key steps in the origin of life”, Astrobiology 6/3, 482-513
  • P. Ehrenfreund, J. Cami (2010) “Cosmic carbon chemistry: from the interstellar medium to the early Earth”, in: The origin of Life, eds. D. Deamer & J. Szostak, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, 21-34
  • P. Ehrenfreund, W. Röling, C. Thiel, R. Quinn, M. Septhon, C. Stoker, S. Direito, M. Kotler, Z. Martins, G. Orzechowska, R. Kidd, K. van Sluis, B. H, Foing (2011) “Astrobiology and habitability studies in preparation for future Mars missions: trends from investigating minerals, organics and biota”, Intern. Journal of Astrobiology 10/3, 239-254
  • F. Goesmann, H. Rosenbauer, J. H. Bredehöft, M. Cabane, P. Ehrenfreund, T. Gautier, C. Giri, H. Krüger, L. Le Roy, A. J. MacDermott, S. McKenna-Lawlor, U.J. Meierhenrich, G. M. Muñoz Caro, F. Raulin, R. Roll, A. Steele, H. Steininger, R. Sternberg, C. Szopa, W. Thiemann, S. Ulamec (2015) “Organic compounds on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko revealed by COSAC mass spectrometry”, Science 349/6247
  • M. Bentley, R. Schmied, T. Mannel, K. Torkar, H. Jeszenszky, J. Romstedt, A.C. Levasseur- Regourd, I. Weber, E. Jessberger, P. Ehrenfreund, C. Koeberl, O. Havnes (2016) “Aggregate dust particles at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko”, Nature 537, Issue 7618, pp. 73-75
  • F. Gaboyer, C. Le Milbeau, M. Bohmeier, P. Schwendner, P. Vannier, K. Beblo-Vranesevic, E. Rabbow, F. Foucher, P. Gautret, R. Guégan, A. Richard, A. Sauldubois, R. Richmann, A. Perras, C. Moissl-Eichinger, C. Cockell, P. Rettberg, V. Marteinsson, E. Monaghan, P. Ehrenfreund, L. Garcia- Descalzo, F. Gomez, M. Malki, R. Amils, P. Cabezas, N. Walter, F. Westall (2017) “Mineralization and Preservation of an extremotolerant Bacterium Isolated from an Early Mars Analog Environment”, Nature Scientific Reports, 18;7(1):8775
  • A. Blachowicz, A.J. Chiang, A. Elsaesser, M. Kalkum, P. Ehrenfreund, J.E. Stajich, T. Torok, Clay Chia Chun Wang, K. Venkateswaran (2019) “Proteomic and Metabolomic Characteristics of Extremophilic Fungi Under Simulated Mars Conditions”, Frontiers in Microbiology, Section Extreme Microbiology, 10, 1013
  • M. A. Cordiner, H. Linnartz, N. L. J. Cox, J. Cami, F. Najarro, C. R. Prott, R. Lallement, P. Ehrenfreund, B. H. Foing, T. R. Gull, P. J. Sarre, S. B. Charnley (2019) “Confirming interstellar C60+ using the Hubble Space Telescope”, Astroph. Journal Letters, 875, L28
  • A. H. Stevens, A. McDonald, C. de Koning, A. Riedo, L.J. Preston, P. Ehrenfreund, P. Wurz, Ch. S. Cockell (2019) “Detectability of biosignatures in a low-biomass simulation of Martian sediments”, Nature, Scientific Reports, 9, 2019, 9706.
  • N.F.W. Ligterink, V. Grimaudo, P. Moreno-García, R. Lukmanov, M. Tulej, I. Leya, R. Lindner, P. Wurz, C.S. Cockell, P. Ehrenfreund and A. Riedo, (2020) “ORIGIN: a novel and compact Laser Desorption – Mass Spectrometry system for sensitive in situ detection of amino acids on extraterrestrial surfaces”, Nature Scientific Reports, 10, 9641

Fellowships, Prizes & Awards (recent)

  • 2020 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal, European Geophysical Union
  • 2020 Women in Aerospace Europe, Outstanding Achievement Award
  • 2019 Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, France
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