PhD project: Evolution of Life in Droplets

Project description

Cells are the building blocks of life. The very first single-celled organisms had a membrane which separated what was "inside" the cell to the primordial sea sloshing around "outside". Once this membrane was in place, the concentrations of molecules inside the cell could be different, allowing reactions to take place and more complex molecules to be synthesised.

But does life need cells? Consider the droplets within a cloud, each contained by surface tension and separated from each other by a primordial vapour. Many planets are surrounded by permanent clouds. Rather than hiding signs of life, could they be the breeding grounds of life? And if so, what would that version of life look like?

In this project you will design experiments to test the "life in droplets" hypothesis. You will identify appropriate reactions to initiate in arrays of droplets, allowing them to interact through a controlled vapour phase.

The project has links with the Soft Matter and Astrobiology research groups

Project supervisors

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