NASA scientist to talk about origins of life, June 25

On Monday June 25, join guest speaker Dr. Lynn Rothschild, NASA senior scientist and adjunct professor at Brown University for a FREE public lecture, Towards a universal biology: Is the origin and evolution of life predictable?  

When: Monday June 25 @ 7:30 p.m.
Where: MDCL, room 1305, McMaster Main Campus


Talk description:

The origin and evolution of life seems an unpredictable oddity, based on the quirks of contingency. Celebrated by the late Stephen Jay Gould in several books, “evolution by contingency” has all the adventure of a thriller, but lacks the predictive power of the physical sciences. Not necessarily so, replied Simon Conway Morris, for convergence reassures us that certain evolutionary responses are replicable. The outcome of this debate is critical to Astrobiology. How can we understand where we came from on Earth without prophesy? Further, we cannot design a rational strategy for the search for life elsewhere – or to understand what the future will hold for life on Earth and beyond – without extrapolating from pre-biotic chemistry and evolution.

Dr. Lynn Rothschild is passionate about the origin and evolution of life on Earth or elsewhere, while at the same time pioneering the use of synthetic biology to enable space exploration. She is a senior scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center as well as Adjunct Professor at Brown University, and the University of California Santa Cruz. Her research has focused on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere.  Her astrobiology research includes examining a protein-based scenario for the origin of life, hunting for the most radiation resistant organisms, and determining signatures for life on extrasolar planets. More recently, Rothschild has articulated a vision for synthetic biology as an enabling technology for NASA’s missions, including human space exploration and astrobiology.

Science of Early Life Conference

This  public lecture is part of an international conference entitled Science of Early Life, running at McMaster from June 24th-27th 2018. The conference will present leading research in the Origins of Life, covering experimental, observational, and theoretical aspects.

Topics include:
• Astrochemistry
• Prebiotic Chemistry
• RNA World
• Life in the Laboratory
• Computational and Mathematical Modelling
• Linking Geology and Chemistry

The conference will highlight the new Origins of Life Laboratory at McMaster, which has facilities for investigation of nucleic acid and membrane biochemistry and biophysics in controlled environments that simulate conditions on the early Earth and other planets. There will be a School for Graduate Students on Sun 24th June – The RNA World in Theory and Practice.

A full program of speakers is available on the web site