Sarah Maurer

Assistant Professor

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Contact Information

Nicolaus Copernicus Hall 440-03

Phone: 860-832-2575


Office Hours

Summer Hours: most days 11-4, email to confirm.

Dr. Maurer is interested in the abiogenesis from both the origins-of-life and artificial life perspectives. She builds model cells from amphiphiles, and examines possible life-like properties, such as metabolism or growth and division.

Her research has been funded through both NSF and NASA. For a full summar see the article in the CCSU Courier here.

She uses a variety of techniques, including fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, UV-Vis spectroscopy, ELISA, gas chromatography, and high pressure liquid chromatography.

Her current projects include:

  • Changes in populations of model cells when put under environmental pressure. The goal of this work is to examine the ability of cells to survive in the absence of reproduction (prebiotic conditions). This project seeks to model the evolution of cellular containers available on early Earth.
  • Damage to model cells from ultraviolet light. This seeks to address the ability of cells to survive in the absence of an atmosphere. Comets, meteors, and asteroids are exposed to greater UV radiation. Also certain stars, the distance a planet is from its star, and the atmosphere of the planet can all lead to higher degrees of UV radiation in locations where life may now be forming.
  • Artificial photosynthesis under prebiotic conditions generating reduced carbon and a proton gradient using transmembrane electron transport.


Wamberg, M., Pedersen, P., Löffler, P., Albertsen, A., Maurer, S.E., Nielsen, Kent; Monnard, P.-A. Synthesis of lipophilic guanine N-9 derivatives - membrane anchoring of nucleobases tailored to fatty acid vesicles. Journal of Organic Chemistry, In preparation.

Maurer, S.E.  “Time to roll the Dice” The Analytical Scientist 2016, 42, 46-49.

Maurer, S.E. & Nguyen, G*. Prebiotic Vesicle Formation and the Necessity of Salts. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres. 2016, 46, 215-222.

Andersen AA, Maurer, S.E., Monnard P-A. “Transmission of photo-catalytic function in a self-replicating chemical system: in situ amphiphile production over two protocell generations.” Chemical Communications 2014, 50, 8989.

Cape JL, Edson JB, Spencer LP, DeClue MS, Ziock HJ, Maurer, S.E., Rasmussen S, Monnard P-A, Boncella JM, “Phototriggered DNA phosphoramidate ligation in a tandem 5′-amine deprotection/3′-imidazole activated phosphate coupling reaction” Bioconjugate Chemistry 2012, 23(10), 2014-2019.

Maurer, S.E. and Monnard, P-A “Primitive membrane formation and function and its role in emergent properties” Entropy 2011, 13(2), 466-484.

Maurer, S.E., 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.

Maurer, S.E.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, 2010.

Maurer, S.E., 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, Maurer, S.E., Collis GE, Ziock H-J, Rasmussen S, Boncella JM. “Nucleobase Mediated, Photocatalytic Vesicle Formation from Ester Precursor Molecules” JACS 2009, 131(3), 931-933.