Origin of Life studies primarily consist of two sets of inferences: bottom-up, which infer plausible scenarios of abiogenesis given our understanding of planetary, geological, and chemical processes, and top-down, which reconstruct the evolutionary history of life for clues to its earliest states. A discontinuity exists between these narratives, however, as deterministic physiochemical processes must give way to historic evolutionary processes before the common ancestry of any of the genetic lineages upon which top-down approaches rely. This gap in our knowledge Read more about Professor Greg Fournier (MIT) - "Between RNA World and LUCA: Physiological, Ecological, and Phylogenetic Inference "
Polymer vesicles (polymersomes) are a synthetic analogue of liposomes. Block copolymers that mimic the lipid amphiphilicity can self-assemble into nano/micro sized polymer vesicles. Physicochemical properties of polymer vesicles such as stability, fluidity, permeability can be easily tuned due to the rich chemistry of block copolymers. In this talk, I will discuss the facile one pot synthesis of polymeric vesicles made of amphiphilic diblock copolymers through light mediated polymerization induced self-assembly and their potential applications. The growth of Read more about Bishnu Bastakoti (Perez-Mercader Group) "Chemical Synthesis and Spontaneous Formation of Giant Polymer Vesicles"
Abstract: The carbon isotopic composition of algal organic matter preserved in marine sediments provides a window into the evolution of the global carbon cycle through geologic time, including variations in atmospheric CO2 levels. Traditional models for interpreting marine isotope records assume that these archives largely reflect kinetic isotopic discrimination by the carbon-fixing enzyme RubisCO. However, recent measurements in our laboratory and in the literature appear to contradict this assumption, indicating that significant questions remain regarding the mechanistic Read more about "Understanding isotopic records of global carbon cycling" Elise Wilkes (Pearson Group)
The search for organic material and biosignatures in our solar system is a highly complex endeavor. For life to develop, chemical raw materials are necessary, hence space missions that investigate the composition of comets and asteroids and in particular their organic content provide major opportunities to determine the prebiotic reservoirs available to the early Earth and Mars. The comet rendezvous mission Rosetta was the first spacecraft to land on a comet and thus sampling material from a cometary nucleus. Rosetta monitored the evolution of comet 67P/Churyumov- Read more about Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund, "Space Exploration of our Solar System: Organics for life and Habitability"
Geological Museum, Haller Hall (Room 102), 24 Oxford Street
The overwhelmingly homochiral nature of life has left a puzzle as to whether mirror-image biological systems based on a chirally inverted version of molecular machinery could also have existed. We show that two processes in the central dogma of molecular biology, the template-directed polymerization of DNA and transcription into RNA, can be catalyzed by a chemically synthesized D-amino acid polymerase on an L-DNA template. The establishment of such molecular systems with an opposite handedness is a small step towards chemically synthesizing an alternative, mirror- Read more about Ting Zhu, Ph.D. (Tsinghau University) "Mirror-image genetic replication and transcription"