Sarah Maurer

Center for Fundamental Living Technology
Department of Physics and Chemistry
University of Southern Denmark
Campusvej 55
5230 Odense M

Fax +45 6615 8760
Phone +45 6550 3532

Research Interests

Sarah is interested in the evolution of life on earth from a mixture of chemicals to the complex varieties we see today. Her research is currently in growth and division of artificial cells, as well as the limits of stability for single chain amphiphiles. Her other areas of focus are self-assembly, early Earth environments, lipid structure characterization, and RNA polymerization.


Educational background

  • PhD. Chemistry and Biochemistry, June 2010; University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), Advisor: David W. Deamer.


  • Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) with Pierre-Alain Monnard;
  • Geochemistry and Geophysical Research Laboratory (GGRL) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) with Jim Boncella.


  • B.S. Biochemistry, December 2004, Minor: Biology Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Indiana PA GPA: 3.4/4.0

Research Experience

  • 2008-2011: Southern Denmark University, Center for Fundamental living technology, Dept. of Physics and Chemistry. Formation of a model protocell, focusing on membranes as primitive containers for metabolic and informational molecules
  • 2006-2008; Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Earth and Environmental Sciences. Formation of a model protocell, including reaction kinetics and membrane importance
  • 2006-07; UCSC, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Simple amphiphile self-assembly and stabilization under various stress conditions
  • 2005; LANL, Biosciences. Relationship between conditioned response and the proteome in honey bees
  • 2002-04; IUP, Biochemistry. Osmoregulation of estuarine invertebrates and the contribution of individual ions


  • Sarah E. Maurer and Monnard, P-A “Primitive membrane formation and function and its role in emergent properties” Entropy 2011, 13 (2), 466-484.
  • Sarah E. Maurer, Declue M, Albertsen A, Dörr M, Ziock H-J, Rasmussen S, Boncella J, Monnard P-A. “Interactions between catalyst and structures and their implications for a protocell model” ChemPhysChem 2011, 12 (4), 828-835.
  • Sarah E. Maurer and Monnard, P-A “Integration of primitive metabolic information and structural protocell components under simulated early Earth conditions” Astrobiology: Physical Origin, Biological Evolution, and Spatial Distribution Ed. Hegedus and Csorrka, Nova, 2009.
  • Sarah E. Maurer, Deamer DW, Boncella JM, Monnard P-A. “Chemical evolution of amphiphiles: glycerol monoacyl derivatives stabilize plausible prebiotic membranes” Astrobiology 2009, 9(10), 979-987.
  • DeClue MS, Monnard P-A, Bailey JA, Sarah E. Maurer, Collis GE, Ziock H-J, Rasmussen S, Boncella JM. “Nucleobase Mediated, Photocatalytic Vesicle Formation from Ester Precursor Molecules” JACS 2009, 131 (3), 931-933.


  • "Protocell Morphology During Growth and Divison" Oral presentation, Systems Chemistry III, Heraklion, Greece, 2011.
  • “The Role of Amphiphile Structures in Self-replicating Chemical Systems” Invited talk, FAS Center for Systems Biology, Harvard University, Boston 2010.
  • “Why the FLinT protocell is unique” Oral presentation, Artificial Life XII: Odense, Denmark 2010.
  • “Knitting a protocell” Poster presentation, Artificial Life XII: Odense, Denmark 2010.
  • “Membrane and metabolism co-dependence in a minimal protocell” Oral presentation, Gordon Research Seminar: Origins of life, Galveston TX, 2010.
  • “Membrane and metabolism co-dependence in a minimal protocell” Systems chemistry II, Lake Balaton, Hungary, Poster session 2009.
  • “Recent progress towards the self-assembly of a minimal protocell” Invited talk, Integration of metabolic and compartmentalization subsystems COST meeting, ETH Hoenggerberg CH, 2009.
  • “Membrane importance and stability during protocell formation” LANL EES-6 Oral presentation, 2008.


  • Sherwood Chang – Eliot Kalmbach Award for Excellence in Astrobiology Research; 2010
  • LANL Large Group Distinguished Performance Awardee; 2006
  • Eastern Analytical Symposium Student Awardee; Fall 2004

Teaching Experience

  • 2009-2011; SDU, Lab instructor. Assembling minimal living systems
  • 2005-06; UCSC, Graduate student Teaching assistant. General Chemistry I and II Discussion sections, Biochemistry Lab
  • 2003-06; IUP, UCSC, Private Chemistry Tutor. General, Organic, and Bio- Chemistry
  • 2003-05; IUP, Undergraduate Teaching assistant. General, Organic and Bio- Chemistry Lab