Teresa Ruiz Herrero, Ph.D.

Harvard University
Past SCOL Member
Portrait photo of Teresa Ruiz Herrero

Education: Autonomous University of Madrid, Ph.D., Soft Matter Physics
Institution: Harvard University (laboratory of Mahadevan Lakshminarayanan)

SCOL Project: Dynamics of Growth and Division in Prebiotic Vesicles

Self-replicating vesicles serve as a model for prebiotic cells, the precursors of life. These originated when a self-replicating biomolecule was separated from its environment by a permeable barrier able to grow and divide. This compartmentalization allowed for different chemical properties between the interior and the exterior media and eventually for specialization and competition between cells, which is the basis for Darwinian evolution. How these early cells could grow and divide without complex machinery remains an open question. The growth, shape and dynamics of these primitive vesicles can shed light on the ways modern cells have evolved by exploiting those characteristics to develop their replication mechanisms. Using a combination of theoretical and computational tools, we will investigate these questions with the aim of characterizing the conditions that allow these systems to replicate and evolve.


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