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About The Origins Project

The Origins Project at ASU is a transdisciplinary initiative that nurtures research, energizes teaching and public understanding, and builds partnerships. We foster research at ASU and abroad, while in the process bringing together distinguished scholars and generating relationships that explore foundational questions facing humankind today.

Much of the most exciting research being done around the world today involves exploring questions of origins. The Origins Project at ASU also raises the profile of origins-related issues and broadens scientific literacy through curricular initiatives and public discussions. Our efforts facilitate the creation of knowledge, improvement of education, and raising public awareness on key issues with the ultimate goals of helping address pressing global problems, improving the quality of life, and informing the development of sound public policy.

Check out our Origins Project Newsletters online to learn about our recent and upcoming events and offerings.

The Origins Project: 5 YEAR RETROSPECTIVE

The Origins Project is changing our future by helping us understand our origins.

By casting a sharp lens on the origins of the universe, life, disease and complex social systems, the Origins Project develops new knowledge and inspires the public on fundamental questions that are at the heart of the 21st Century’s greatest challenges. We create exciting opportunities for public engagement in science ideas and debate with the world’s leading intellects. We bring together top scientists, established and emerging, to engage in dialogue across disciplines, collaborative research and new approaches to learning to address forefront issues in science and scholarship.

The Origins Project fulfills its mission by:
  1. Convening formal academic workshops with a broad range of scholars from different disciplines to explore possible new research areas having to do with origins issues in a wide variety of fields;
  2. Organizing Origins Project Great Debates: providing the public direct access to the leading thinkers of our time;
  3. Presenting our Origins Project Dialogues, a series of intimate, thoughtful, and entertaining conversations with scholars, public intellectuals, and interesting personalities;
  4. Providing scholarship, research, guest professor, and guest lectureship opportunities to students, postdoctoral academics and distinguished professors;
  5. Creating and maintaining a video, audio, and document archive of our entire catalogue online and available for researchers and the public;
  6. Creating and curating new, unique content and materials for educational purposes, enabling and empowering the Origins Project to help establish new directions for education both at the university level and beyond.
  • Linda Elkins-Tanton

  • Director
  • ASU Bio

  • Alyssa Roby

  • Program Manager
  • ASU Bio

  • Cynthia Schulze

  • Business Operations Manager
  • ASU Bio

Taryn Struck
  • Taryn Struck

  • Business Operations Specialist
  • ASU Bio

  • Tessa Etzioni

  • Web Developer
  • ASU Bio

  • William Campbell

  • Interaction Designer
  • ASU Bio

Sidney Altman
Nobel Laureate
Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Professor of Chemistry, Yale University
Origins Project Distinguished Visiting Professor
Baruch Blumberg*
Nobel Laureate
Distinguished Scientist, Fox Chase Cancer Center

* We honor the memory of Dr. Blumberg, who passed away April 5, 2011. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Richard Dawkins
Former Charles Simonyi Professor for the Understanding of Science, Oxford University
Founder, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Mariette DiChristina
Editor-in-chief, Scientific American
Douglas Erwin
Curator of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Ira Flatow
Host of Science Friday, NPR Radio
Wendy Freedman
Director, Carnegie Observatory
David Gross
Nobel Laureate
Director, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics
Stephen Hawking
Director of Research, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics; Lucasian
Professor (Emeritus) of Mathematics, University of Cambridge
Harry Lonsdale*
Co-Founder, Bend Research; Founder, Origin of Life Challenge

*We honor the memory of Harry Lonsdale, who passed away November 11, 2014. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

John Mather
Nobel Laureate
Senior Astrophysicist, Goddard Space Center
Christopher McKay
Planetary Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center
Gerry Ohrstrom
Former chairperson, Ohrstrom Foundation
Steven Pinker
Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology,Harvard University
Lord Martin Rees
Past President, Royal Society
Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics
Master of Trinity College, University of Cambridge
Jonathan Rothberg
Founder, CEO, Chairman, Ion Torrent Systems, Inc.
Neil Shubin
Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago Provost, Field Museum
Mary Smart
Smart Family Foundation
J. Craig Venter
Founder, Chairman and CEO, J. Craig Venter Institute
John Sutherland
Professor, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology University of Cambridge
Frank Wilczek
Nobel Laureate
Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Origins Project Distinguished Research Professor
Robert Zeps
CEO, Zeps Industries; Owner, Metamoris International and Zeps LLC
Eric Horvitz
Distinguished Scientist &
Managing Director
Microsoft Research
Foster new interdisciplinary research and dialogue.
  • Host a regular series of transdisciplinary symposia and international conferences that foster dialogue and stimulate new thinking, involving established leaders in diverse fields as well as the best emerging young researchers, and follow these up, where possible with new collaborative research projects.  Ensure that these events have lasting utility through the creation of white papers, publications, and an information archive.

  • Support leading postdoctoral researchers exploring at the edge of human knowledge.

Partner with scholars to transform university and preK-16 education.
  • Place outstanding faculty in Origins Project professorships across the academic spectrum, including establishing permanent visiting appointments for some of the world’s most respected scholars.

  • Link schoolchildren with world-class scientists to create enthusiasm for science and nurture the next generation of scientific innovators.

  • Collaborate to develop new curricular materials for use in public education, teacher training, and K-12 and university education.

Acts as an advocate for science education and public engagement of science issues.
  • Act as an advocate for science education and public engagement of science issues.

  • Develop new tools to improve public understanding of science as well as to improve journalistic coverage of science issues.

  • Build community through public symposia, television and digital co-productions, cultural initiatives, and other outreach initiatives.

Present stimulating, interesting, informative, and unique public programs that extend the Origins Project message.
  • Origins Project Dialogues present unique one-to-one conversations with some of the most interesting individuals of our era.

  • Origins Project Great Debates presents several viewpoints on a theme of importance to the public, and complement our private academic workshops.

Learn about how to get involved and help support The Origins Project.

Founded by Lawrence M. Krauss, PhD, an internationally renowned theoretical physicist and Foundation Professor in the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration, and initially supported with seed funding from ASU, the Origins Project focuses on deep, foundational questions. The project links scholarship and expertise from across the academic and scientific spectrum.

Since inception in 2009 the Origins Project quickly established a reputation for excellence in offering a unique research and public presence through academic workshops, lectures, Great Debates and Dialogues to explore fundamental questions, such as: what are the origins of the universe, life, consciousness, culture, and human existence?

Origins-related questions resonate across all disciplines and among the public because they directly confront the mysteries associated with our existence, our past, and our future.

The Origins Project explores these vital questions by hosting international scientific workshops and public events where we convene the world’s top researchers to examine promising research areas and explore new interdisciplinary collaborations.

Origins workshops over the years have already addressed topics such the origin of life, human uniqueness, gravity, xenophobia, violence, and climate change. Associated with the workshops we have had public discussions of these issues and also on issues related to science and modern culture, hosting dialogues, debates, films, music and dance events.

Events to date have included hundreds of the world’s most renowned scientists, intellectuals, and writers including Steven Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, Wendy Freedman, Craig Venter, Ian McEwan, Neal Stephenson, Svante Paabo, Werner Herzog, and Cormac McCarthy, as well as Nobel Laureates including Steven Weinberg, David Gross, Frank Wilczek, Sidney Altman, Lee Hartwell, Sheldon Glashow, Baruch Blumberg, Adam Reiss, Brian Schmidt, and John Mather.

Physicists Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking, and Lawrence Krauss speak at the ASU Origins Project  Science & Culture Festival 2011.