About

We work toward the resiliency
of the human species.


We understand this can only be achieved in ways that sustain the biospheres where we live. As Earth moves dangerously toward a possible future of climate change, collapse of agricultural systems, and mass migrations of populations, it has become more important than ever to discover how we can enable people to survive and thrive where they are. Maintaining Earth as our foundational home, we can then take this knowledge and use it to expand human living to extreme environments on Earth and out into space.

Our Focus

We inquire into critical problems of complex ecological systems science

  • Habitation
  • Agriculture
  • Biospherics
  • Human Expansion

More about our research areas






The Team


Lee Irons

Executive Director

Co-Founder and Board Chair

Lee is a scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur. Throughout his career, he has developed a skill and enjoyment of solving problems, especially the intractable ones. He has faced such problems in the fields and industries of space plasma physics research, energy production, hazardous environment decontamination and remediation, and large-scale engineering and construction projects. In his role as Executive Director of Norfolk Institute, he is promoting global thought leaders working on the existential challenges of human sustainability.

Dan Lopez

Strategic Advisor

Co-Founder and Board Member

Dan is an innovative entrepreneur and big data pioneer who has advised a wide variety of web-centric businesses and brands by blending his creative, strategic, and technological abilities. He is a seasoned startup and open source veteran, with domain expertise in Space Exploration, Defense and Intelligence, big data, and consumer web. He has built bleeding edge consumer-facing technology, data-intensive applications, and media experiences from the International Space Station to Times Square.

Our Researchers

We are scientists, engineers, farmers, entrepreneurs, and futurists with one thing in common: our humanity.



Johannes Lehmann

PhD Advisor, Principle Investigator, Program Manager

Dr. Lehmann's lab at Cornell University is interested in advancing our general understanding of biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrient elements in soil, providing important insight into regional and global element cycles such as the carbon or sulfur cycle. This field of research has global and local relevance with implications for climate change and environmental pollution. His strong background in the chemistry, biology and physics of soils and its cycles provide the basis for the development of intelligent solutions for sustainable soil and land use management. The most exciting examples include the discovery of stabilization mechanisms of organic matter in soil nano-structures and the development of a biochar soil management technology that improves soil fertility, sequesters carbon and reduces off-site pollution. Recent efforts involve the conversion of wastes to valuable fertilizers and the discovery of novel reactions and pathways of nitrogen in soil organic matter and plant uptake.

Matthias Rillig

Associate Investigator

Dr. Rillig’s lab at Freie Universität Berlin is part of the Institute of Biology and the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB). Our research focus is on plant and soil ecology, with most people in the lab working on fungi. We work with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, other root colonizing fungi ranging in functioning (including parasites), and also saprobic fungi. Dr. Rillig's expertise is in Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, soil structure, soil microbiology, community ecology, and plant-soil-microbe interactions.

Morgan Irons

Fellow / Resident Student Scientist

Morgan is an ecologist and an environmental scientist. Her research is focused on understanding and applying ecological theories and principles to develop and manage quasi-closed, agro-ecological systems for use in extreme and changing Earth and space environments. Morgan Irons is a PhD candidate in the Field of Soil and Crop Sciences at Cornell University.