How did chemicals come alive? Prof. Sarah Maurer searches for the origins of life.

Courtesy of Sarah Maurer

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Dr. Sarah Maurer has been interested in the origins of life since her first day of biochemistry. Since coming to CCSU’s Department of Chemistry, she has conducted an ongoing series of experiments designed to test how chemicals could have come together to make the first single-celled organisms.

Maurer is now focused on a missing link in the evolutionary chain. It is known that lipids naturally self-assemble, but the next step is a mystery. What was introduced that allowed lipid chains to become stable?

To figure this out Maurer is conducting a sort of “battle royale” this fall. With the help of undergraduate assistants, she will take lipids and introduce a metabolic compound (such as chlorophyll) into them. The next mixes will be put to the test to see which combination can outlast the others and win the title of Most Stable Lipid Chain.

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