2013 Student Research Conference:
26th Annual Student Research Conference

The Seeds of Life: Using Computational Chemistry to Determine the Precursors of Life on Earth and Elsewhere
Matthew J. Kummer
Dr. Eric V. Patterson, Faculty Mentor

In an attempt to better understand the earliest forms of life on Earth and on other potentially inhabitable planets, we aim to use computational chemistry to create and test mechanisms for the conversion of molecules known to exist in the interstellar medium to life's precursor molecules, specifically amino acids. We test both conventional and creative methods of combining molecules, and we then analyze the combinations using powerful computers. By calculating things like the thermodynamic favorability of a reaction taking place, we can determine whether the mechanism is likely to occur. Progress has been made recently using aminoacetonitrile as a starting material, and further calculation will help us determine its role in life on Earth.

Keywords: amino acid, computational chemistry, aminoacetonitrile, interstellar medium


Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 9-1
Location: GEO
Time: 3:30

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