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Water and Life

Water and Life: The Unique Properties of H2O - published by CRC Press/Taylor & Francis (UK), 2010

“Water and Life” was a multifaceted program established by a philanthropic organization as a follow-up to the "Fitness of the Cosmos for Life" program to further explore the gap between the investigation of fine-tuning in physics and cosmology and the investigation of fine-tuning in chemistry and biochemistry, focusing on one basic, significant element: water.

Ellipsis was awarded a grant from the funding organization to manage the project, from the development of an academic symposium through the publication of an edited volume. This program brought together outstanding research leaders from a variety of fields to engage—in a scientifically rigorous manner—with the question of whether the physiochemical properties of water may (or may not) be considered to be biocentrically “fine-tuned” for the existence and evolution of life.
 Villa Monastero


Ellipsis organized the international, two-day “Water of Life” academic symposium at Villa Monastero in Varenna, Italy. Following the conference, we managed editorial development of the resulting book, Water and Life: The Unique Properties of H2O, which was published by Taylor & Francis/CRC Press in 2010. In addition, we administered the program’s $300,000 conference-/book-development grant for the funding organization, the John Templeton Foundation.

Conference Management Services


Symposium Planning and Management

  • Worked with the project leaders to organize the "Water of Life: Counterfactual Chemistry and Fine-Tuning in Biochemistry" symposium held April 29-30, 2005, at Villa Monastero on Lake Como in Varenna, Italy.
  • Issued invitations and participant instructions and managed all communications.
  • Handled all meeting logistics and provided on-site management of the event.

Website / Marketing Content Development

  • Developed the symposium website content.
  • Edited and produced collateral materials.

Book Development and Editing

  • Assisted the volume editors in developing the 30-author volume, Water and Life: The Unique Properties of H2O, that resulted from the symposium.
  • Provided book-development, editorial, and administrative guidance and support.
  • Created the book proposal, secured a publisher (Taylor & Francis/CRC Press), and served as the primary liaison between the publisher, volume editors, and authors.
  • Developed author guidelines, managed the flow of chapter drafts, secured permissions, compiled the front matter, and prepared the content for submission to the publisher.
  • Coordinated the production process on behalf of the volume editors and authors, addressing copyediting queries, reviewing page proofs, and managing the flow of author corrections.

Grant Management and Reporting

  • Developed the budget, hired vendors, issued payments, and tracked finances.
  • Submitted grant reports according to the funding organization’s requirements.


Ellipsis was honored to work with the following individuals on this project:

  • Ruth M. Lynden-Bell, Atomistic Simulation Group, Queen’s University, Belfast, and Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge — Chief program organizer, chief volume editor, and chapter author (co-author with Pablo G. Debenedetti)
  • Simon Conway Morris, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge — Program organizer, volume editor, and chapter author (co-author with Ard A. Louis)
  • John D. Barrow, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and Millennium Mathematics Project, University of Cambridge, and Department of Astronomy, Gresham College, London — Program organizer and volume editor
  • John L. Finney, Department of Physics and Astronomy and London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London — Volume editor and chapter author
  • Charles L. Harper, Jr., Consulting (formerly of the John Templeton Foundation) — Program developer and volume editor
  • Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics — Foreword author
  • And 27 additional leading authorities in the fields of chemistry, biology, biochemistry, planetary and earth sciences, physics, and astronomy who participated in the symposium, authored chapters for the resulting book, or both: Wesley D. Allen, Center for Computational Chemistry and Department of Chemistry, University of Georgia, Athens (co-author with Henry F. Schaefer); Philip Ball, formerly of Nature;Steven A. Benner, Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution; Humberto Campins, Planetary and Space Science Group, University of Central Florida (co-author with Michael J. Drake); Martin F. Chaplin, Water and Aqueous Systems Research, London South Bank University; Pablo G. Debenedetti, Department of Chemical Engineering, Princeton University (co-author with Ruth M. Lynden-Bell); Michael J. Drake, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson (co-author with Humberto Campins); Felix Franks, BioUpdate Foundation, London;Giancarlo Franzese, Department of Fundamental Physics, University of Barcelona (co-author with H. Eugene Stanley); Branka M. Ladanyi, Department of Chemistry, Colorado State University, Fort Collins;Louis Lerman, Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville and Pteranodon Ventures, Las Vegas; Ard A. Louis, Rudolph Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford (co-author with Simon Conway Morris); Alister E. McGrath, Department of Historical Theology, University of Oxford; Thomas (Tom) C. B. McLeish, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds; Carlos Warnick (C. Nick) Pace, Department of Genetics, Health Science Center, Texas A&M University (co-author with Abbas Razvi and J. Martin Scholtz);Wilson C. K. Poon, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) and School of Physics, University of Edinburgh; Lawrence R. Pratt, Theoretical Chemistry and Molecular Physics Group (T-12), Los Alamos National Laboratory; Abbas Razvi, Laboratory of Professor William E. Balch, Scripps Research Institute (co-author with Carlos Warnick Pace and J. Martin Scholtz); Colin A. Russell, Department of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, The Open University, and Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge; Henry F. Schaefer, III, Center for Computational Chemistry, University of Georgia, Athens (co-author with Wesley D. Allen); J. Martin Scholtz, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Health Science Center, and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A&M University (co-author with Carlos Warnick Pace and Abbas Razvi); H. Eugene Stanley, Center for Polymer Studies, Boston University (co-author with Giancarlo Franzese); Adrian F. Tuck, Physics Department, Imperial College London (co-author with Veronica Vaida); Veronica Vaida, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado at Boulder (co-author with Adrian F. Tuck); Peter D. Ward, Department of Biology and Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, and NASA Astrobiology Institute; Bruce H. Weber, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, California State University, Fullerton, and Department of Science and Natural Philosophy, Bennington College; Peter G. Wolynes, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Physics, University of California, San Diego
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