UNK graduate Aspen Clements Miller discussing origins of life during Science Café

WHAT: University of Nebraska at Kearney Science Café

HOSTED BY: Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Honor Society

TITLE: “Origins of Life: From Stellar Ingredients to Primordial Soup. Where Did We Come From?”

TOPIC: A number of scientists are trying to answer this fundamental question, but they must first ask less broad questions like where did biological molecules come from and how were they delivered to early Earth? Once they were delivered, how did everything come together to form the first cell? For something to be alive, according to well-accepted criteria described by John Casti, an entity must have the capacity to metabolize, self-repair and replicate. When considering such criteria, we must work backward and consider: how did the molecules we associate with genetic memory come together and perform these tasks? A key molecule in answering this question appears to be RNA, which is known for its genetic storage and ability to catalyze essential biological reactions. Aspen Clements Miller will talk about the possible formation routes of RNA. She will discuss the individual components, including nucleobases and the backbone of RNA, and how these individual components could have serendipitously come together to form this all-important ingredient of life.

PRESENTER: A Kearney native, Aspen Clements Miller attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she performed research with various professors in the department of chemistry. Her research with associate professor Mahesh Pattabiraman led to a publication that accelerated her path into the world of academia. Clements Miller graduated from UNK in 2015 and earned a doctorate in astrochemistry from the University of Virginia in July. She currently teaches chemistry at Madison County High School in Virginia. Her passion for science and outreach guided her to teach at the high school level, where she plans to eventually start a research program affiliated with the University of Virginia and Madison County High School.

TIME: 5:30 p.m.

DATE: Monday, Nov. 16

REGISTRATION INFO: Register for the Zoom webinar using this link: https://bit.ly/3pfHFjd

CONTACT: Allen Thomas, UNK associate professor of chemistry, 308.865.8452, thomasaa@unk.edu