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Chemical contributions to astrobiology

Grant number: 14/25528-0
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Visiting Researcher Grant - International
Duration: February 28, 2015 - March 06, 2015
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Physical-Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Dalva Lucia Araujo de Faria
Grantee:Dalva Lucia Araujo de Faria
Visiting researcher: Howell Gwynne Mort Edwards
Visiting researcher institution: University of Bradford, England
Host Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:12/13119-3 - Vibrational spectroscopy in condensed phases, AP.TEM

Abstract

Prof. Edwards's visit was planned based in his experience in astrobiology, an innovative research field that is attracting an ever-growing interest of the academic community, because of its relevance and opportunity. Nevertheless, in Brazil the involvement of chemists in such new research field is not yet expressive, what points to the need of initiatives aiming to stimulate their participation. Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary research area that investigates the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the Universe. Within such framework, prebiotic chemistry is focused the evolution of the chemical species, i.e. the routes whereby complex molecules can be generated from simpler ones, and how such evolution culminated in the advent of life on Earth. Experimental studies in the context of prebiotic chemistry try to reproduce the natural environment in the primitive Earth (ca. 3.5 - 3.9 thousand million years ago), when most of the evidences indicates that the first forms of life appeared. Prof. Edwards collaborates with some investigations that I am currently coordinating and their development and conclusion depend on the detailed discussions that will be held during his visit. Among these studies are the results obtained by two students (Otavio Mendes Gil and Isabela Sodré) who visited the University of Leicester by the Science without borders program. Furthermore, one PhD and one MSc projects on astrobiology currently in course will benefit from Prof. Edward's visit and advice. Furthermore, future collaborations demand a robust planning for the next years, with targets well defined, what involves the discussion of mutual research interests and possibilities for students interchange. Among the activities scheduled for Prof. Edward's visit is a talk to be delivered in the Institute of Chemistry (USP) and a workshop on astrobiology; the latter will also celebrate the UNESCO International Year of Light (and related techniques). The program leaves room for discussions with researchers from other research groups who might be interested in share Prof. Edwards' expertise in astrobiology and related themes. (AU)

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