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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Lukas Henri William Rossmanith

  UK, France, Germany

  Physics, Darwin College

  PhD thesis: Can Stellar Flares Activate Prebiotic Chemistry?



Research interests:

  1. Origin of Life Studies
  2. Planetary Astrochemistry
  3. Prebiotic Molecules/Chemistries
  4. Exoplanetary Science

The goal is to further our understanding of the origin of life and how this applies to the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. I am interested in investigating the chemistry that leads to the formation of key prebiotic molecules and how this might change in exoplanets. A key part of this project is to experimentally explore the effect stellar flares (primarily UV/near UV flares) have on the different chemistries of prebiotic molecules as well as how the exposure time impacts the chemical environment. I am also interested in seeing how this chemistry changes depending on the different intensities of stellar light and the frequencies of flares. That way different stars can be simulated, with a focus on M-dwarfs as they generate large amounts of UV light. This would allow a greater understanding of how prebiotic chemistry behaves not only on Earth but also on other exoplanets with different host stars.  

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

Does life exist elsewhere? I have always believed that, given the Universe’s immense size, life must not be exclusive to Earth. We may not have found signs yet, but research shows high complexity in planets. A planet’s chemistry is highly influenced by its physical environment and host star. The more we understand about Exoplanets and possible chemical models that create biosignatures, the more we also understand about the complexity and beauty of our Earth as well. For this reason, I want to pursue a better understanding of both our planet and the Universe.