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Origins of Life
Gordon Research Conference

The Prebiotic Milieu Building the Evolution of Early Life

Dates

January 14-19, 2018

Location

Hotel Galvez
Galveston, TX Site Information

Organizers

Chair:
Matthew A. Pasek

Vice Chair:
Nicolle E B. Zellner

Application Deadline

Applications for this meeting must be submitted by December 17, 2017. Please apply early, as some meetings become oversubscribed (full) before this deadline. If the meeting is oversubscribed, it will be stated here. Note: Applications for oversubscribed meetings will only be considered by the Conference Chair if more seats become available due to cancellations.

Meeting Description

The study of the origin of life occurs at an intersection of chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and other fields. Conversations between these fields yield new insight and correct biases that are often invisible to individuals operating within a single discipline. This forthcoming Gordon Research Conference will explore new work in the origins field from planetary sciences to biochemistry and paleontology, covering the first billion years of the earth’s history. The sessions will provide a state-of-the-art update of the field, while also providing room for discussion and debate on some of the larger outstanding questions in our understanding of the origin of life. Sessions will attempt to provide the basic constraints on the starting material for the origin of life, and how the first biological material arose: the transition point from prebiotic chemistry to biochemistry. It will also cover habitable worlds and the search for life elsewhere, the innovation that comes from origins research, environments amenable to polymer formation, and the role of minerals in prebiotic chemistry.

The GRC will integrate with the preceding GRS (Gordon Research Seminar) both by asking the latter to report on exciting research forthcoming from new researchers, and by promoting active discussion to the conference. Funding is being sought to allow partial travel and registration support for both the GRC and the GRS for graduate students and postdoctoral scientists who participate as presenters in the Gordon Research Seminar.

Related Meeting

This GRC will be held in conjunction with the "Origins of Life" Gordon Research Seminar (GRS). Those interested in attending both meetings must submit an application for the GRS in addition to an application for the GRC. Refer to the associated GRS program page for more information.

Contributors

Gordon Research Conferences

Meeting Program

Sunday
4:00 pm - 8:00 pmArrival and Check-in
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmWelcome / Introductory Comments by GRC Site Staff
7:40 pm - 9:30 pmKeynote Session: Meteorites in the Origin of Life
Exogenous synthesis is a major means of investigating plausible prebiotic synthesis. This session will host speakers who investigate prebiotic chemistry in meteorites, and how the OSIRIS-REX mission will address some of these questions.
Discussion Leader: Christopher Adcock (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA)
7:40 pm - 7:45 pmOpening Remarks
7:45 pm - 7:50 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:50 pm - 8:30 pmDaniel Glavin (Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, USA)
"Exogenous Delivery of Organic Matter by Comets and Primitive Asteroids: An Inventory for the Origin of Life"
8:30 pm - 8:40 pmDiscussion
8:40 pm - 9:20 pmTerence Kee (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
"Meteoritic Phosphorus. Mobilising and Activating P"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
Monday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
8:30 amGroup Photo
9:00 am - 12:30 pmPrebiotic Environments
The prebiotic inventory is a product of its environment. There has been substantial research in prebiotic synthesis since the first experiments 65 years ago. This session will discuss some of the routes that lead to the molecules that make up life.
Discussion Leader: Bruce Damer (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)
9:00 am - 9:05 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:05 am - 9:50 amLaura Barge (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, USA)
"Experimentally Simulating Environmental Influences on Prebiotic Chemistry"
9:50 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:15 amShigenori Maruyama (Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan)
"Nine Requirements for the Birth Place of Life and Three-Step Evolution of First Life"
11:15 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:15 pmNita Sahai (University of Akron, USA)
"Priming the Origin of Life by Concentrating Phosphate and Magnesium on Prebiotic Earth"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
3:00 pm - 4:00 pmPower Hour
The GRC Power Hour is an optional informal gathering open to all meeting participants. It is designed to help address the challenges women face in science and support the professional growth of women in our communities by providing an open forum for discussion and mentoring.
Organizer: Nicolle Zellner (Albion College, USA)
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmHabitable Worlds
Planetary environments aside from the earth provide new possibilities to understand how life may have originated elsewhere in the solar system and universe.
Discussion Leader: Cesar Menor-Salvan (Centro de Astrobiologia, Spain)
7:30 pm - 7:35 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:35 pm - 8:00 pmMaguy Jaber (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France)
"Conspiration of Minerals and Organics in Origins of Life"
8:00 pm - 8:10 pmDiscussion
8:10 pm - 8:40 pmStephen Mojzsis (University of Colorado Boulder, USA)
"GeoAstronomy and the Prospect for Habitable Worlds in the Galactic Neighborhood"
8:40 pm - 8:50 pmDiscussion
8:50 pm - 9:20 pmCatherine Neish (University of Western Ontario, Canada)
"Titan: Ingredients for Life"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
Tuesday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmPhosphorus in the Origin of Life
The element phosphorus is a key minor element in life. This session will cover phosphorus-specific prebiotic chemistry, and the early evidence from the geologic record of what phosphorus compounds may have been present.
Discussion Leader: Heather Abbott-Lyon (Kennesaw State University, USA)
9:00 am - 9:05 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:05 am - 9:50 amRuth Blake (Yale University, USA)
"Clues to Phosphate Chemistry on the Early Earth from Oxygen Isotopes"
9:50 am - 10:05 amDiscussion
10:05 am - 10:35 amCoffee Break
10:35 am - 11:20 amYan Liu (Xiamen University, China)
"The Phosphorus Catalysis and Regulation for Life Under Prebiotic Conditions"
11:20 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:15 pmSolange Duhamel (Columbia University, USA)
"Phosphorus, the Staff of Life: Aquatic Microorganisms Strategies in the Face of Phosphate Scarcity"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmAssembly at the Transition of Prebiotic Chemistry and Biochemistry
Life is defined at least in part when Darwinian evolution can act on replicating material. This session will cover how selection and replication may have first begun.
Discussion Leader: Aaron Engelhart (University of Minnesota, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:35 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:35 pm - 8:00 pmDonald Burke (University of Missouri, USA)
"When RNAs Collide: Emergent Properties from Bioactive RNA"
8:00 pm - 8:10 pmDiscussion
8:10 pm - 8:40 pmNicholas Hud (Georgia Tech, USA)
"Spontaneous Self-Assembly of Nucleic Acids"
8:40 pm - 8:50 pmDiscussion
8:50 pm - 9:20 pmIrene Chen (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA)
"Chemical Activity Landscapes of the RNA World"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
Wednesday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmEarly Evolution
Some of the earliest evidence for life comes from studies of ancient genomes, and from studies of the rock record. This session will cover new insight into origins from both these fields.
Discussion Leader: Jose Aponte (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA)
9:00 am - 9:05 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:05 am - 9:50 amAntonio Lazcano Araujo (Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico)
"The Gene Content of the Last Common Ancestor: Il Catalogo è Questo"
9:50 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:15 amDaniel Segre (Boston University, USA)
"Early Core Metabolisms"
11:15 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:15 pmPaula Welander (Stanford University, USA)
"Insights into the Primordial Membrane Through Analyses of Extant Archaeal and Bacterial Lipid Biosynthesis"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:00 pm - 7:30 pmBusiness Meeting
Nominations for the Next Vice Chair; Fill in Conference Evaluation Forms; Discuss Future Site and Scheduling Preferences; Election of the Next Vice Chair
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmPrebiotic Assembly
From monomers to polymers, the formation of life may have required genetic material. The synthesis of these genetic polymers from simpler components remains problematic, and will be the focus of this session.
Discussion Leader: Paul Bracher (Saint Louis University, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:35 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:35 pm - 8:05 pmMatthew Powner (University College London, United Kingdom)
"System Chemistry: Prebiotic Selection Overcoming Clutter"
8:05 pm - 8:15 pmDiscussion
8:15 pm - 8:45 pmIrena Mamajanov (Earth-Life Science Institute, Japan)
"Functional Non-Biopolymers and Their Implications for the Origins of Life"
8:45 pm - 8:55 pmDiscussion
8:55 pm - 9:20 pmYoshihiro Furukawa (Tohoku University, Japan)
"Prebiotic Sugars on the Early Earth"
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
Thursday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmGrowing the Origins Research Field
Research in the Origins of Life is funded primarily by national science agencies. This session will feature talks by those who administer research funding, as well as presentations by those who have employed origins work to benefit fields outside of pure research.
Discussion Leader: Michael Gaylor (Dakota State University, USA)
9:00 am - 9:05 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:05 am - 9:50 amSteven Benner (Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME), USA)
"Spinning off Astrobiology in Diagnostics and Medicine"
9:50 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:15 amMary Voytek (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA)
"NASA and the Origins of Life"
11:15 am - 11:30 amDiscussion
11:30 am - 12:15 pmDaniella Scalice (NASA Astrobiology Program, USA)
"Astrobiology as Creation Story: Bringing Together Scientific and Cultural Knowledge to Empower Native American Youth"
12:15 pm - 12:30 pmDiscussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmSelected Poster Presentations / Young Investigator Presentations
The GRC is preceded by the Gordon Research Seminar, which is open to new researchers in the origins field. This session will include talks by speakers chosen from the GRS, allowing them to provide a full glimpse on the up-and-coming research in the field, and will also feature short talks from the poster sessions.
Discussion Leader: Nicolle Zellner (Albion College, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:35 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:35 pm - 7:55 pmLate-Breaking Topic
7:55 pm - 8:05 pmDiscussion
8:05 pm - 8:25 pmLate-Breaking Topic
8:25 pm - 8:35 pmDiscussion
8:35 pm - 8:45 pmShort Talk Selected from Poster Abstracts
8:45 pm - 8:50 pmDiscussion
8:50 pm - 9:00 pmShort Talk Selected from Poster Abstracts
9:00 pm - 9:05 pmDiscussion
9:05 pm - 9:15 pmShort Talk Selected from Poster Abstracts
9:15 pm - 9:20 pmDiscussion
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmClosing Remarks
Friday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 amDeparture
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