August 20, 2018 Library Appoints Literature and Science Scholar Bruce Clarke as the Baruch S. Blumberg Chair in Astrobiology
Press Contact: Benny Seda-Galarza (202)707-8732
Public Contact: Travis Hensley (202) 707-8807
The Library of Congress today announced the appointment of Bruce Clarke as the sixth Baruch S. Blumberg chair in astrobiology. Clarke will be in residence at the Kluge Center for a period of ten months beginning in December, 2018.
The Astrobiology chair at the Kluge Center is a collaboration between the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress. It is named for Baruch “Barry” Blumberg, the late Kluge Center Scholars Council member, Nobel Laureate and founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
Funded by NASA and managed by the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the program encourages holders of the Blumberg chair to conduct research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic and societal implications.
Bruce Clarke is the Paul Whitfield Horn professor of literature and science in the Department of English at Texas Tech University. His research focuses on 19th- and 20th-century literature and science, with special interests in systems theory, narrative theory and ecology.
At the Library, he will work on a project titled “Astrobiology, Ecology and the Rise of Gaia Theory.” The Gaia theory postulates that the Earth’s living and nonliving components form a self-regulating planetary system.
This provides a model for understanding viable conditions for life on our home planet and for the detection of life on other worlds. A key component of Clarke’s research will be to study the work of the late American evolutionary thinker Lynn Margulis. Her collaboration on the Gaia hypothesis with the British atmospheric chemist James Lovelock received crucial NASA funding in its formative decades.
The Library of Congress has been collecting Margulis’s papers since her election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983.
The Kluge Center’s mission, as established in 2000, is to “reinvigorate the interconnection between thought and action,” bridging the gap between scholarship and policymaking. To that end, the Center brings some of the world’s great thinkers to the Library to make use of the Library collections and engage in conversations addressing the challenges facing democracies in the 21st century.
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