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An Evening with Lee Cronin - The Evolutionary Genesis Engine

When: Thursday October 22, 2015 @ 7PM (reception starts at 6PM) 

Where: The City University of New York Advanced Science Research Center, 85 St Nicholas Terrace New York, NY 10031

What is life? How did life start on planet earth 3.5 billion years ago, and which molecules / chemical systems lead to biology? Could evolution be the ultimate creationist? Is there are general theory of evolution that extends to all matter? Can we make or evolve life from scratch in a matter of hours? These are fantastically interesting questions but in this lecture, rather than look back into the past, we will look to the future and discuss how chemists may go about creating new types of truly synthetic (artificial or inorganic biology). In embarking upon this quest we will be asking the question “What is the minimal chemical system that can undergo Darwinian evolution?” and in doing so looking towards the concept of ‘adaptive matter’ and evolvable materials and chemical systems. The aim is inorganic biology, or more simply, a living system that does not the current chemical infrastructure utilized by biology.

Lee Cronin FRSE. Professional Career: 2013-Regius Professor of Chemistry. Alexander von Humboldt research fellow (Uni. of Bielefeld); 1997-1999: Research fellow (Uni. of Edinburgh); 1997: Ph.D. Bio-Inorganic Chemistry, Uni. of York; 1994 BSc. Chemistry, First Class, Uni. of York. Prizes include 2015 RSC Tilden Prize, 2013 BP/RSE Hutton Prize, 2012 RSC Corday Morgan, 2011 RSC Bob Hay Lectureship, a Wolfson-Royal Society Merit Award in 2009, Election to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2009. The focus of Cronin’s work is understanding and controlling self-assembly and self-organisation in Chemistry to develop functional molecular and nano-molecular chemical systems (including solar fuel systems); linking architectural design with function and recently engineering system-level functions (e.g. coupled catalytic self-assembly, emergence of inorganic materials and fabrication of inorganic cells that allow complex cooperative behaviours). Much of this work is converging on exploring the assembly and engineering of emergent chemical systems aiming towards ‘inorganic biology’. This work has been presented in over 320 papers and 280 lectures worldwide. It is also worth pointing out that the expertise in the Cronin group (which numbers over 50 people and > £10 M in funding) is unique bringing together inorganic / synthetic chemists, chemical engineers, flow chemistry, digital chemistry, complex system modelling, evolutionary theory, robotics and AI.

This event is free and open to the public. Presented by ASRC and NYCS