A System-Level Viewpoint on the Chemical Origins of Life
Sep 1, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
It may not be possible to uncover the chemical origins of life from a single chemical or physical event, i.e. from a reductionist perspective. In contrast, the concept of the prebiotic soup suggests a complex environment from which life emerged. Moreover, a feedback loop might exist, in which the molecules associated with life’s emergence also acted on and modified their environment. This talk focuses on a model system for the origin of peptides, in which drying promotes polymerization and also drives monomer evaporation and phase separation. These chemical reactions and mass transfer alter the pH and viscosity, which may further influence the polymerization kinetics.
Martha Grover is a Professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. She earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech, advised by Richard Murray. She joined Georgia Tech as an Assistant Professor in 2002, and received an NSF CAREER award in 2004. In 2011 she received the Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the Computing and Systems Technology Division of AIChE. Her research program is dedicated to understanding, modeling, and engineering the self-assembly of atoms and small molecules to create larger scale structures and complex functionality. Her approach draws on process systems engineering, combining modeling and experiments in applications dominated by kinetics, including surface deposition, crystal growth, polymer reaction engineering, and colloidal assembly. She is a member of the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution, and the Georgia Tech Decision and Control Laboratory.