Powner Lab

Investigating the Chemical Origins of Life

We use organic chemistry to try to understand the transition between non-life and life.

Elucidating the Origins of Life is at the frontier of human understanding of Nature. It is a highly multidisciplinary problem that requires answers to a large number of questions, ranging from planetary contexts to the advent of Darwinian evolution.

Critical challenges of increasing complexity from simple isolated molecules to molecular networks and self-replicating systems must be addressed on the trajectory from chemistry to biology.

We have made contributions in the areas of nucleic acid, amino acid and amino nitrile chemistry, protometabolic networks, catalysis, ribozymes, lipids, crystal engineering, green chemistry and photochemistry.