24 rue Lhomond
Simulations of reactions at aqueous interfaces relevant for the origins of life
Supervisor: Dr Damien Laage
Theoretical chemistry group at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris
Peptides and nucleic acids play an essential role in all living organisms. However, under biological conditions, their assembly from simple building blocks relies on complex biological catalysts, enzymes and ribosomes, which did not exist under prebiotic conditions. One of the great challenges for understanding the origins of life is therefore to elucidate how these thermodynamically extremely unfavorable reactions in dilute conditions could have occurred. This project proposes a theoretical chemistry approach to study a recent suggestion on the role of aerosol droplets. This will involve a combination of reactive molecular dynamics simulations, advanced conformational sampling, electronic structure calculations and novel machine-learning algorithms.
The project will take place in the group of Damien Laage, within the theoretical chemistry group in the Department of Chemistry at Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris (www.chimie.ens.fr/recherche/laboratoire-pasteur/chimie-theorique/). The postdoctoral researcher will benefit from an outstanding research environment, both within the theory group whose activities span a broad range of methods and topics, from biochemical systems to material science, and within the ENS and PSL dynamic and stimulating environment in the heart of the Paris Latin Quarter. State- of-the-art local computing facilities will be available for the project.
PhD degree in bioinformatics, theoretical chemistry or molecular physics. Prior experience with molecular dynamics simulations or electronic structure calculations is a plus.
This project is funded by the PSL University interdisciplinary initiative on the origins of life (www.univ-psl-ocav.fr). This one-year contract should start before January 2021; the net salary will be superior to 2 000 €/month and will scale with the candidate’s experience.
Interested candidates should contact Dr Damien Laage (email@example.com) and send their CV and letter of motivation together with contact information for two references.