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DSSS: Molecules, Hot Water and Minerals: Ingredients for the Origin of Life?

    •    Who: Dimitri Sverjensky, Johns Hopkins University
    •    What:    Download the Flyer (pdf)
    •    Where: Building 66 Auditorium, hosted by Ben Gilbert
    •    When: 10:30 am to 12:00 noon, November 7, 2014
    •    Why: About the Distinguished Scientist Seminar Series

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SverjenskyDimitri Sverjensky is a Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University. Over a period of more than 30 years, Sverjensky’s research interests in geochemistry have focused on the geochemistry of water-rock interactions, including the origins of sediment-hosted ore deposits and the chemistry of sedimentary basinal fluids, the geochemistry of mineral-water interfaces, and high temperature and pressure aqueous fluids in the deep Earth. The theoretical advances made in these areas of research are now being applied in two major projects: the role of mineral-water interfacial reactions in a hydrothermal origin of life; and the role of water in the Earth’s deep carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycles.


The microbiology that defines the cycling of the major chemical elements (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, iron on the hydrothermal geochemical environment. Chemical interactions occurring at interfaces between crystalline surfaces and aqueous solutions are crucial to an extraordinarily broad range of scientific and technological topics, including corrosion, heterogeneous catalysts, chemical sensors, and a host of essential everyday products including adhesives, paints, lubricants, dyes, solvents, and cleaners. Geochemists pay special attention to reactions that occur between mineral surfaces and aqueous species - interactions central to weathering and soil formation, hydrothermal ore deposition, biomineralization and biofilm formation, uptake and release of chemicals that affect water quality, and many other natural processes. Mineral-molecule interactions are also relevant to models of the origin of life, in such varied roles as the selection, concentration, protection, and assembly of biomolecules. These interactions also have immediate relevance to such diverse topics as microbial ecology, environmental monitoring, synthesis and purification of chiral pharmaceuticals, planetary life detection, nanofabrication, and development of artificial replacements for teeth and bones.