In its wake, the pandemic has dramatically transformed the way that academia conducts its conferences, workshops and summer schools. Most academic events now offer hybrid formats, allowing for the possibility of remote participation. Exoplanets by the Lake is intended to be a signature summer school series that aims to reinstate an interactive, in-person summer school format among participants that is not easily achievable online. In 2024, our focus is on the application of the geosciences (especially geochemistry) towards understanding exoplanets, which we term "geoastronomy". Specifically, geoastronomy examines how the secondary atmospheres of small, rocky exoplanets are sourced by outgassing and shaped by complex processes involving their atmospheres, surfaces and interiors. The outcomes of these processes provide geological false positives for biosignature gases. Studying them has long-term implications for next-generation telescopes seeking to characterize habitable exoplanets.

The distinctive features of the summer school include:

  • Emphasis on in-person interaction at an attractive, self-contained venue with at most 20 participants. The number of participants is kept small in order to encourage unrestricted, interactive discussions among exoplanet scientists of all sub-disciplines and seniority.
  • The event will be held for 5.5 days (5 nights). The first 3 weekdays involve pedagogical lectures during the day. There is an optional half-day excursion, via ship on the lake. The last 2 days feature a mini-conference format, where a small number of invited experts share their views and interact with the participants. Participants have the chance to contribute short talks, if desired.

The intended audience of this summer school ranges from Master students to junior postdocs. Both experts and curious newcomers to the topic are welcome to attend. Senior scientists who are intending to switch research directions and/or attending as active listeners are also welcome.

Key details


Geosciences of exoplanets (Geoastronomy)


Prof. Kevin Heng (Munich, Germany)


Prof. Fabrice Gaillard (Orleans, France), Prof. Steve Mojzsis (Budapest, Hungary)

Invited Speakers

Dr. Vinciane Debaille (Brussels, Belgium), Prof. Don Dingwell (Munich, Germany), Dr. Marco Pignatari (Budapest, Hungary), Dr. Lorenzo Spina (Padua, Italy)


July 21 to 26 2024 (Sunday to Friday, 5 nights)


Hotel Seespitz Gaestehaus in Herrsching (50 minutes from Munich main station by S Bahn).

Registration fee:

700 euros — includes hotel accommodation (shared; 2 participants to a room), all breakfasts and coffee/tea breaks (but no lunches/dinners).
Register no later than 2024 March 31 (Sunday).

Lecturer profiles

Stephen Mojzsis

Stephen Mojzsis is an Earth scientist who uses physical, chemical and dynamical tools to understand the natural world. My research is field-, laboratory- and modeling-based, and explores the planetary scale geodynamic conditions that give rise to Earth and Earth-like planets. In Budapest, he is a Director at the Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences (CsFK) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, Hungary. He was previously the director of the Collaborative for Research in Origins (CRiO) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA. He was the recipient of numerous NASA grants, and awards. Furthermore, he holds academic positions at the University of Vienna (Ida Pfeiffer Visiting Professor, Senior Research Association), University of Jena, Germany (A.v. Humboldt Research Prize Visiting Professor) and the University of Colorado.

Fabrice Gaillard

Fabrice Gaillard is an experimental geochemist and geophysicist with a consolidated background in petrology and chemical thermodynamics. He is best known for his contributions to the understanding of volatile elements in magmatic systems with implications for the mantle and crust geodynamics, but he also contributed to model mantle degassing and its relationships with atmospheric evolution on Earth and beyond. He received his B.S. degree in Geological Sciences at the University of Grenoble in 1996, and his M.S. degree and PhD degrees at the University of Orléans in 1997 and 2001, respectively. He has been postdoc research associates at the Bayerisches GeoInstitut (BGI, 2001-2005). In 2005 he joined the CNRS (French national centre for scientific research), and since then he has been working at the ISTO (Institute of Earth Sciences at Orléans). In 2015, he obtained the highest French degree, the “habilitation à diriger des recherches”, and became director of research at CNRS in 2018. Since 2017, he is head of the “MAGMA” group at ISTO. Fabrice has coordinated 3 ANR grants (French agency for research) and 1 ERC project (European research council).

Programme (tentative)

  • Sunday:  Meet-and-greet from 3pm to 5pm.
  • Monday:  Full day of lectures (with coffee/tea breaks, lunch and dinner)
  • Tuesday:  Full day of lectures (with coffee/tea breaks, lunch and dinner)
  • Wednesday:  Half day of lectures and after-lunch excursion (ship ride on lake) or free afternoon
  • Thursday:  Workshop with invited talks from experts and contributed talks from participants
  • Friday:  Half day of contributed talks from participants and panel discussion
Venue conference room