Keynotes & Luminaries

Keynote: From the earth to the sky: How Precision Agriculture may impact global climate change and alter the course of history

Date: TBD
Room: TBD
Dr. Stan Martin
Mars Agricultural Research Consortium

Abstract: Agriculture has been a core part of human existence since the so called "Neolithic Revolution". It has remained relatively unchanged for millennia but the past two centuries have been ones of unprecedented change that have fundamentally changed the way we approach agriculture. The coalescence of advances in automation, computerization, and information technology together with an ever increasing understanding of genetics have conspired to set in motion a series of events which some are calling a "new epoch". The future of humanity in this new epoch will be largely determined by the choices we as nations, corporations, and individuals make. Precision agriculture is one determinant factor in this equation. Used correctly and wisely, precision agriculture has the potential to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, eliminate global hunger, and launch humanity into the stars as a multiplanet species. However, if used unwisely the same tools can be used to exacerbate problems such as inequality, environmental degradation, and pollution resulting in a planet that will be mostly uninhabitable by the end of this century. Here we explore both the promise and the peril of precision agriculture and reflect on how our civilization can "steer the ship" in a meaningful way to ensure a prosperous and hopeful future for humanity.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Stanton (Stan) Martin is the founder and CEO of the Mars Agricultural Research Consortium ( The Mars Agricultural Research Consortium is an organization whose members include businesses, academic institutions, and government agencies. The consortium exists to promote the peaceful and cooperative development of technologies necessary for the production of edible food on Mars. Prior to founding the consortium, Dr. Martin worked at Bayer Crop Sciences, where he served as the lead scientist responsible for Space Based Asset Development, technology development, and digital farming assets in the United States. He is also the founder of Science Apps, L3C (, a low profited limited liability company dedicated to the advancement of Science for the betterment of humanity through the use of mobile technology. A plant pathologist by training, Stan has extensive experience in the areas of crop modeling, remote sensing, and data analytics. Prior to his involvement with space based development activities, Stan spent a number of years in the genomics space, serving as a bioinformatician for North Carolina State University. Stan's current research interests include topics related to precision agriculture, such as the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), machine learning, and hyperspectral imaging technology to gather data and make inferences about plant health, and the environmental and management factors that affect plant growth patterns.

Luminary Presentation: The Sciences of Global Megaflooding, Paleoflood Hydrology, and Modern Flood Risks

Date: TBD
Room: TBD
Dr. Victor Baker
University of Arizona

Abstract: After centuries of geological controversy, it is now well-established that the last major deglaciation of planet Earth, about 16,000 years ago, involved huge outbursts of water from the wasting continental ice sheets, and that this water constituted floods of immense magnitude and relatively short duration. These “megafloods” had short-term peak flows comparable to the more prolonged flows of ocean currents. Recent discoveries have documented more than 40 examples of megaflooding and related immense floods that occurred over vast regions of Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Antarctica, Iceland, and even on the planet Mars. It is becoming increasingly clear that immense outburst floods likely induced very rapid, short-term effects on the planetary environments on both Earth and Mars, greatly altering climates, drainage evolution, and the planetary patterns of water and sediment movement to lakes, seas, and oceans. The Earth megafloods may well have inspired the flood myths that are a part of human cultural heritages around the world.

The study of very ancient megaflooding has led to techniques for studying the kinds of extreme flooding that are increasingly posing hazards to life and property in today’s world. The most extreme of these modern floods pose particular risk to nuclear power plants, river dams, and other major infrastructure. The science of “paleoflood hydrology” was initiated by the speaker to provide exact information on the largest flood events that nature can generate. This science is increasingly being used worldwide to estimate the potential flood risks posed by climatic change.

Speaker Bio: Victor R. Baker is Regents’ Professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, Geosciences, and Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona. He has a B.S. (Geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1967 and a Ph.D. (Geology) from the University of Colorado in 1971. From 1996-2004 he was Department Head of Hydrology and Water Resources (now Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences), University of Arizona.

Baker has authored or co-authored more than 1000 scientific contributions, including 18 books, 436 research articles and chapters, more than 525 abstracts and short research reports. His research has concerned paleoflood hydrology (a field of study that he defined in the 1970s and 1980s); flood geomorphology; channels, valleys, and geomorphic features on Mars and Venus; catastrophic Pleistocene megaflooding in the northwestern U.S. and central Asia; history/philosophy of Earth and planetary sciences; and the interface of environmental science with public policy. Professor Baker has been President of the Geological Society of America (1998), and among his other honors are Foreign Membership in the Polish Academy of Sciences (1994); Honorary Fellowship in the European Union of Geosciences (1999); the David Linton Award of the British Society for Geomorphology (1995); the Distinguished Scientist Award (2002) and Distinguished Career Award (2010), both from The Geological Society of America Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division; the Inaugural International Lectureship of the Geological Society of America (2012-2013), a Fulbright-Hays Senior Research Fellowship (1979-1880); an Indo-American Fellowship (1987-1988); and professional society Fellowships respectively in the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Geological Society of America, and the British Society for Geomorphology. His work on megafloods has been featured in multiple television documentaries for PBS, BBC, and the National Geographic, Discovery, and History Channels, including the 2005 NOVA production “Mystery of the Megaflood” and the 2017 NOVA production “Volatile Earth” episode “Killer Floods.”


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