Karen Barad is Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Barad's Ph.D. is in theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Barad held a tenured appointment in a physics department before moving into more interdisciplinary spaces. Barad is the author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007) and numerous articles in the fields of physics, philosophy, science studies, poststructuralist theory, and feminist theory. Barad's research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hughes Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Barad is one of the founders of the UCSC Science & Justice Research Center and the Science & Justice Graduate Training Program.


Nnedi’s works include WHO FEARS DEATH (in development at HBO into a TV series), the BINTI novella trilogy (optioned and in development with Media Res), THE BOOK OF PHOENIX, the NSIBIDI SCRIPTS SERIES and LAGOON. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus and Lodestar Awards and her debut novel ZAHRAH THE WINDSEEKER won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.

Nnedi has also written an Africanfuturist comic series LAGUARDIA (winner of the Hugo and Eisner Award); comics for Marvel, including BLACK PANTHER: LONG LIVE THE KING and WAKANDA FOREVER (featuring the Dora Milaje) and the SHURI series;  and her short memoir BROKEN PLACES AND OUTER SPACES.

Nnedi holds a PhD (literature) and two MAs (journalism and literature). She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Phoenix, Arizona.


Professor Sara Walker is an astrobiologist and theoretical physicist, with research interests in the origins of life, artificial life, life and detection on other worlds. Since joining ASU in 2013 she has built a highly interdisciplinary research program to tackle the origin of life problem from all sides. She has mentored dozens of early career scientists and leads one of the largest theory groups in origins of life and astrobiology internationally. Her team's major contributions are in theoretical advances in the field of astrobiology, developing new approaches to the problem of understanding universal features of life that might allow a general theory for solving the matter to life transition, detecting alien life and designing synthetic life. At Arizona State University, she is Deputy Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and Associate Director of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute Center for Biosocial Complex Systems. She is an Associate Professor with joint appointments in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and in the School of Complex Adaptive Systems. She is also a member of the External Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute.

She is PI of a NASA Indisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research (iCAR) project focused on "Planetary Systems Biochemistry" which is providing a new set of rigorous, agnostic tools for NASA and other agencies to identify signs of life. She is playing a key role in developing statistical frameworks for life detection and new approaches to the origins of life, and was awarded the Stanley Miller Early Career Award by the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life in 2021 for her international leadership in these areas. She recognizes how understanding life at a deep level should have major technological and societal implications and therefore contributes to tech transfer of her labs work. In this direction, she is part of a team awarded four highly competitive prizes from the National Institutes of Health to build a pipeline from prediction to design, discovery and validation of new, non-addictive opioid drugs. She serves on several steering committees and Boards, including the Sloan Foundation’s Matter-to-Life Initiative, the LIFE mission concept, the NASA Network for Life Detection, and the NSF Origins of Life Coordination Network among others. She is also heavily invested in public engagment in science, and has reached thousands in-person, and hundreds of thousands remotely through lectures, podcast interviews and other activities.