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I grew up in Southeast Michigan. I have long been interested in the origin of life on earth, so after I completed a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2014 I moved to Atlanta, GA to pursue this interest. Additionally, I am fluent in many styles of guitar including classical and hybrid fingerstyle.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Studies on the origin of biopolymers and their prebiotically plausible polymerization often rely on the spontaneous emergence of a statistical distribution of polymers with various lengths and sequences. For peptides, the expectation is that a small subset of the longer polymers would be able to fold and function similarly to extant enzymes. Our research aims to show an alternative and more plausible approach to the selection of biopolymers by probing a subset of prebiotic small molecules for properties of a dynamic combinatorial system. We utilize hydration-dehydration cycles to form and break ester bonds between short hydroxy acid terminated peptides. We show how these polymers can grow to lengths of 20+ monomers in a drying phase and disassemble following rehydration. In the presence of a small molecule guest, the assembled polymers are expected to form a stable host-guest complex which could then be selected out of the ensemble of polymers formed.