Charles Cockell is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Centre for Astrobiology, which he established in 2011. He formerly worked at the NASA Ames Research Centre, the British Antarctic Survey and the Open University. His research focuses on microbial life in extreme environments and his interests include the human exploration of space and political philosophy beyond Earth. His research has taken him to some of the most extreme environments on Earth.
Previous books have included popular science such as IMPOSSIBLE EXTINCTION and SPACE ON EARTH and more academic tracts such as THE MEANING OF LIBERTY BEYOND EARTH and HUMAN GOVERNANCE BEYOND EARTH – IMPLICATIONS FOR FREEDOM and an undergraduate textbook, ASTROBIOLOGY: UNDERSTANDING LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE.
He has a keen interest in science education, having established the Astrobiology Academy, which enlists the help of primary and secondary school teachers to write curriculum material for schools and he runs Life Beyond, a programme that takes astrobiology education into prisons, getting inmates to contribute new ideas for the human exploration of Mars.
He founded the Earth and Space Foundation, a non-profit which has been awarding small grants to field work and expeditions that link space exploration and environmentalism since 1995.