Thursday, 09 February, 2012
New Humboldt fellow collaborating with CeNS member Dieter Braun
Three more researchers from abroad, sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, have chosen to spend a research sabbatical at LMU Munich. One of them is Dr. Shoichi Toyabe (Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan), who will be based in the Faculty of Physics, where he will collaborate with Professor Dieter Braun.
A thorough appreciation of the range of interactions available to classes of biomolecules that have the potential to reproduce themselves by replication is a central prerequisite for an understanding of the earliest steps in the evolution of life. Here, it is crucial to be able to identify within a pool of random RNA molecules those that can productively interact to facilitate their own replication, and thus ensure their survival in the face of disintegrative forces. Shoichi Toyabe will use his Humboldt Fellowship to explore this issue experimentally. He plans to reconstruct important steps in the process of chemical evolution that is thought to have taken place on Earth 4000 million years ago, which forged the basis for the development of the first viable cells and living organisms. His major goal is to define a set of non-equilibrium conditions that could have facilitated the development of ever more complex self-replicating structures.
Shoichi Toyabe studied physics at Tokyo University, obtaining his doctorate in 2007. His doctoral research included ground-breaking experimental work on the statistical mechanics of single particles and biomolecules, performed in cooperation with Masaki Sano. He now holds an Assistant Professorship in Physics at Chuo University in the Japanese capital.