IRG 2023 Keynote Speakers

Our first confirmed keynote speaker will be Becky McCauley Rench, Ph.D.

Rebecca (Becky) McCauley Rench is a Program Scientist in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. She is the Program Scientist for the Curiosity and New Horizons missions. She leads the Planetary Protection Research Program, which works closely with the Office of Planetary Protection to support scientific research and technology development to meet NASA’s planetary protection goals, and leads the Habitable Worlds Program, which is part of the Astrobiology Program and supports scientific research on the characteristics and distribution of potentially habitable environments in the Solar System and beyond. Additionally, she is the Program Scientist for the Planetary Data System (PDS), the NASA Liaison for MAPSIT, and supports the Planetary Data Ecosystem (PDE).

Her talk is tentatively titled: “The Search for Life and Habitable Worlds at NASA – Past, Present, and Future”

Our second confirmed keynote speaker will be Stephen Webb, Ph.D.

Following a PhD in theoretical physics, and then positions at a number of UK universities, Dr. Webb now works at the University of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. He is the author of 10 books, including an undergraduate textbook on the cosmic distance ladder, a study of the new generation of astronomical observatories, and the best-selling “Where is Everybody”, a wide-ranging look at approaches to Fermi’s famous question. He is an active member of the UK SETI Research Network, and engages enthusiastically in various outreach activities – his TED Talk “Where are all the aliens?” has had over 6 million views. Stephen serves on the editorial board of Springer’s “Science and Fiction” book series, and he is always interested in reading proposals that explore and exploit the interface between accepted science and its fictional counterpart. His website can be found at

His talk is tentatively titled: “Silence is Golden: SETI and the Fermi Paradox”