- Dinner starts at 7:00 pm.
- The evening's presentation begins around 7:45.
- Seating will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
- The capacity of the venue is 80 people.
- We expect a turnout of around 60% of day-of RSVPs.
- There is a $3 contribution requested from non-students.
How the lessons of biological evolution guide our search for the origin of life: A status report on the search for the origins of RNA and cellular life.
Director, NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution
Professor, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Georgia Institute of Technology
Chair and Professor
Biological Sciences Division
University of Georgia
Theodosius Dobzhansky aptly stated, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". While the principles of evolution are most often associated with understanding the emergence and relationships of macroscopic life forms in the fossil record and on earth today, the same principles are helping us understanding the origin of life billions of years ago, for which there is no fossil record.
We will discuss our current understanding of the origin of RNA, arguably the most important molecule in living cells, and current theories regarding the origin of cellular life, the fundamental unit of all living organisms. The search for the origin of RNA is largely being pursued by “bottom up” approaches to the origin of life, which involves understanding how prebiotic chemical reactions could have given rise to the first genetic materials.
In contrast, the quest to understand the origin of cells is being aided by our knowledge of current cellular life, a “top down” approach. While these two approaches draw upon different types of information, and seek to understand very different aspects of early life, the principle of evolution through the survival of the fittest can be seen at both levels, from the molecular to the cellular forms that first emerged billions of years ago.
About Nicholas Hud
Nicholas Hud was born in Los Angeles, California. He has been a professor at Georgia Tech since 1999. Nick received his B.S. degree from Loyola Marymount University and his Ph.D. from UC Davis. His research interests are focused on understanding origin, the evolution and biological functions of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). He is Director of the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution, and Associate Director of the Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience. He is a member of the NASA Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution (Ribo Evo).
About Mark Farmer
Mark Farmer is Chair of the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Georgia. He is the author of over 40 research publications that focus on the origin and evolution of microorganisms and is a Past President of the International Society of Evolutionary Protistology. Mark is a frequent contributor to the Athens Banner Herald where he writes on topics of science and public policy and he is also a media consultant for the Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education.
Image: Origins (courtesy of NASA).