International Workshop

Tucson, Biosphere 2, CNRS-University of Arizona, 2019

A new interdisciplinary research initiative on "Life and Systems in Closed Worlds", involving social and natural scientists, is being launched by the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique(CNRS) and the University of Arizona, together with the Ecole Normale Supérieure, a member of Paris Sciences & Lettres University (PSL). Anthropologists, ecologists, biologists, geochemists, space and planetary scientists, engineers, architects, and experts in robotics and AI are joining forces to tackle scientific challenges arising from the study of closed living systems across multiple scales of space and time, from the small and short of "micro-biospherics”, through macro-systems such as Biosphere 2, Ecotrons or Bios-3, to the large and long of terraformation.On behalf of the supporting institutions, the International Research Laboratory iGLOBES will convene a small group of experts to address interdisciplinary challenges arising from life and systemsin closed worlds, and explore the potential for national and international collaborations. The meeting will be held at the University of Arizona Biosphere 2, 11-13 December 2019, with financial support from CNRS MITI programs “Biomimetics and Life Modeling” and “80prime”, PSL research program “Origin and condition of Appearance of Life”, and iGLOBES funding for synergistic events. The “Life and Systems in Closed Worlds” workshop at the University of Arizona / Biosphere 2 is organized by Regis Ferriere (, iGLOBES, University of Arizona, Ecole Normale Supérieure, PSL, CNRS), Perig Pitrou (, CNRS, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, Collège de France, PSL) and Joffrey Becker (, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, Collège de France, PSL). Program administration and management: Ruth Gosset (, CNRS, iGLOBES).


John Adams, Deputy Director of Biosphere 2.For two decades, John Adams has helped drive the evolution of Biosphere 2. A wildlife biologist by training, Adams is a key member of the team that plans and directs all research and related activities at Biosphere 2. Beyond research, he oversees biome management, energy management and facilities maintenance and he sets the vision for public outreach.

Joffrey Becker (co-organizer), research assistant in the Laboratory of Social Anthropology at Collège de France, Paris. An anthropologist whose work focuses on robotics and more particularly on the relationship between humans and machines. Becker’s research is reported in scholarly articles, and a book published in 2015.

Regis Ferriere (co-organizer), professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the iGLOBES International Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona, joint venture with France’s CNRS and ENS (Paris Sciences & Lettres University).A mathematician by training, Ferriere investigates how biological and cultural evolution shapes the structure and function of ecological systems, from viruses in the ocean, through humans and Earth climate, to cells and the habitabilty of exoplanets.
Chris Impey, professor and deputy head of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.An expert on observational cosmology, galaxies, and quasars, Impey published several books on life in the universe, including “Beyond –Our Future in Space” where he addresses the rapid arc of progress in space travel and our prospects for setting up habitation on the Moon or Mars.

Lydia Kallipoliti, assistant professor at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, New York. Architect, engineer, curator, and scholar, author of “The Architecture of Closed Worlds” (see, Kallipoliti researches how material cycling and recycling affect architectural production, policy and design.

Jordan Okie, assistant research professor in the School of Earth & Space Exploration at Arizona State University.Ecophysiologist, complexity scientist, and astrobiologist, Okie investigates the role of energy and metabolism in ecology and evolution, seeking to discover the laws (and exceptions) of life across scales, from molecules to human social systems, on Earth and beyond.

Valerie Olson, associate professor of Anthropology at UC Irivine.An environmental anthropologist, author of “Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics beyond Earth”, Olson uses the system concept as a cornerstone to understand how social groups interact to shape and remake environments.