Science

Cornelis Dullemond

Cornelis ("Kees") Dullemond does theoretical research on the structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks and planet formation. They key element of this research is to try to interpret observations of protoplanetary disks in terms of physical processes that may play a role in the formation of planets. These processes include dust coagulation and transport processes, which play a key role in forming a habitable planet such as Earth.

Ref.: Dullemond, C. P. 2013, Astronomische Nachrichten, 334, 589

Michael Hausmann

M. Hausmann and G. Hildenbrand are studying the formation and evolution of supra- molecular cellular structures (receptor clusters in membranes and chromatin in genomes) along the phylogenetic tree in order to understand the development of structure – function relations. Structural conformation changes are analysed on the micro- and nano-scale after ionizing radiation exposure. Conclusions and implications for abiogenesis, evolution of organisms, and life-friendly environments are drawn. MH and GH initialized and coordinate the comprehensive Heidelberg lecture courses on “Astrobiology and Astrobiophysics”.

Ref.: M. Falk, M. Hausmann, E. Lukasova, A. Biswas, G. Hildenbrand et al. Crit. Rev. Eukaryot. Gene Expression 24, 225-247 (2014) Ref.: K. Bosiek, M. Hausmann, G. Hildenbrand. Astrobiology 16(4), 311-323 (2016)

Thomas Henning

Henning is studying the formation and evolution of water and organics in protoplanetary disks and the connection between disk chemistry and the composition of planetary atmospheres. He is part of exoplanet survey projects such as SPHERE, Hat-South and the K2 M dwarf project.

Ref.: Th. Henning, D. Semenov: Chemistry in Protoplanetary Disks. Chemical
Reviews. 113, 9016 (2013)

Georg Lars Hildenbrand

M. Hausmann and G. Hildenbrand are studying the formation and evolution of supra- molecular cellular structures (receptor clusters in membranes and chromatin in genomes) along the phylogenetic tree in order to understand the development of structure – function relations. Structural conformation changes are analysed on the micro- and nano-scale after ionizing radiation exposure. Conclusions and implications for abiogenesis, evolution of organisms, and life-friendly environments are drawn. MH and GH initialized and coordinate the comprehensive Heidelberg lecture courses on “Astrobiology and Astrobiophysics”.

Ref.: M. Falk, M. Hausmann, E. Lukasova, A. Biswas, G. Hildenbrand et al. Crit. Rev. Eukaryot. Gene Expression 24, 225-247 (2014) Ref.: K. Bosiek, M. Hausmann, G. Hildenbrand. Astrobiology 16(4), 311-323 (2016)

Andres Jäschke

The Jäschke lab studies catalysis and regulation by nucleic acids, in particular by RNA. An RNA that catalyzes carbon-carbon bond has been discovered and studied extensively. Recent work also includes organic cofactors that are thought to be remnants from the RNA world, as well as principles of molecular evolution from random sequence space. 

Ref.: Cahová, H., Winz, M.-L., Höfer, K., Nübel, K. & Jäschke, A.: NAD captureSeq suggests NAD as a bacterial cap for a subset of regulatory RNAs. Nature 2015, DOI 10.1038/nature14020.

Ameta, S., Winz, M.-L., Previti, C. & Jäschke, A.: Next-generation sequencing reveals how RNA catalysts evolve from random space. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 (42), 1303-10.

Frank Keppler

Keppler is studying the formation and fate of organic molecules (e.g. methane and chloromethane) in terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. His group is particularly applying stable isotope techniques to distinguish between abiotic and biotic formation mechanisms. Furthermore, the group also investigates - in cooperation with Heinz Friedrich Schöler - the formation of small organic molecules in fluid inclusions in Archean rocks as windows to the early evolution of organic molecules on Earth.

Ref.: F. Keppler, I. Vigano, A. McLeod, U. Ott, M. Früchtl, T. Röckmann (2012). Ultraviolet-radiation-induced methane emissions from meteorites and the Martian atmosphere. Nature, 486, 93-96.

F. Keppler, D.B. Harper, M. Greule, U. Ott, T. Sattler, H.F. Schöler, J.T.G. Hamilton (2014). Chloromethane release from carbonaceous meteorite affords new insight into Mars lander findings. Scientific Reports, 4, 7010.

Hubert Klahr

Hubert Klahr is studying the formation of habitable planets in protoplanetary disks, starting from coagulation of dust and ice in the turbulent solar nebula, the transport and accumulation of the earth building material, up to the actual build up of a proto earth.

Ref.: H. Klahr, A. Hubbard. Convective Overstability in radially stratified accretion disks under thermal relaxation. The Astrophysical Journal 788, 21 (2014)

Marcus Koch

Our group´s interest is to unravel modes and tempo of speciation processes among selected plant groups. We integrate in an interdisciplinary way various disciplines ranging from taxonomy and systematics to genomics, molecular evolution and environmental science. Our most important laboratory is natural biodiversity “outside the fences”, however also important research collections are being build up and hold at Botanical Gardens Heidelberg.

Ref.: Hohmann Nora, Schmickl R, Chiang T-Y, Lucanova M, Kolar F, Marhold K, Koch M.A. (2014) Taming the wild: resolving the gene pools of non-model Arabidopsis lineages. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14:e224.

KARL R., KOCH M.A. (2014) Phylogenetic signatures of adaptation: The Arabis hirsuta species aggregate (Brassicaceae) revisited. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (PPEES). DOI: 10.1016/j.ppees.2014.06.001.

KARL R, KOCH M.A. (2013) A world-wide perspective on crucifer speciation and evolution: phylogeny, biogeography and trait evolution in tribe Arabideae. Annals of Botany 112 (6): 983-1001.

Holger Kreckel

Kreckel is the head of the ERC-funded ASTROLAB research group, aiming at a better understanding of Cold Collisions and the Pathways toward Life in Interstellar Space. Presently, the main instrumentation effort of the group is the development of a neutral-ion collision setup for the new Cryogenic Storage Ring (CSR).  Other research activities involve molecular imaging and gas phase spectroscopy of complex organic molecules.

Ref.: P. Herwig et al., Imaging the Absolute Configuration of a Chiral Epoxide in the Gas Phase, 
Science 342, 1084

Frank Postberg

In the frame work of an ERC Consolidator Grant Postberg is studying water ice particles and water environments on icy ocean moons in the outer solar system with special emphasis on Europa and Enceladus. He is Co-Investigator on the Cassini spacecraft currently in orbit about Saturn and NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission that will investigate the ocean moons Europa and Ganymede in the 2020s. Postberg is head of the Planetary Science Group at the Earth Science Institute at Heidelberg University and is involved in several studies for future space missions to explore the potential of Europa and Enceladus as extraterrestrial habitats.

Ref.: Postberg, F. et al. (2009), Sodium Salts in E Ring Ice Grains from an Ocean below the Surface of Enceladus, Nature, Vol. 459, Issue 7250, p. 1098 - 1101.

H.-W. Hsu, F. Postberg et al. (2015), Ongoing hydrothermal activities within Enceladus, Nature, Vol. 519, p. 207-210.

Axel Schmitt

Schmitt is developing and applying isotopic microanalysis to extract information about the differentiation and thermal evolution of planetary crusts (mainly Earth and Mars). This involves studying the rock record from deep geologic time in comparison to modern systems where the thermochemical evolution of magmatic and associated geothermal systems can be studied at high temporal resolution. Schmitt has been a collaborator in the NASA Astrobiology “Life in the Universe” program since 2005.

Ref.: Moser, D. E., Chamberlain, K. R., Tait, K. T., Schmitt, A. K., Darling, J. R., Barker, I. R. & Hyde, B. C. (2013) Solving the Martian meteorite age conundrum using micro-baddeleyite and launch-generated zircon. Nature, 499(7459), 454-457.

Schmitt, A. K., Perfit,M. R., Rubin, K. H., Stockli, D. F., Smith, M. C., Cotsonika, L. A., Zellmer, G. F., Ridley, W. I. & Lovera, O. M. (2011) Rapid cooling rates at an active mid-ocean ridge from zircon thermochronology. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 302(3-4), 349-358.

Ulrich Schwarz

Ulrich works on the theoretical physics of soft and biomatter. He is especially interested in self-assembly of organic molecules and in the role of compartments and scaffolds in assisting such self-assembly. These questions are studied in his group mainly with stochastic equations, in particular with computer simulations of the Brownian dynamics of isotropic or patchy particles.

Ref.: Max Hoffmann and Ulrich Sebastian Schwarz. Oscillations of Min-proteins in micropatterned environments: a three-dimensional particle-based stochastic simulation approach. Soft Matter, 10:2388-2396, 2014.

Heinrich C. R. Klein and Ulrich S. Schwarz. Studying protein assembly with reversible Brownian dynamics of patchy particles. The Journal of Chemical Physics 140: 184112, 2014. Heinrich CR Klein, Paul Guichard, Virginie Hamel, Pierre Gönczy, and Ulrich S Schwarz. Computational support for a scaffolding mechanism of centriole assembly. Scientific reports, 6:27075, 2016. Artemij Amiranashvili, Nikolas D Schnellbächer, and Ulrich S Schwarz. Stochastic switching between multistable oscillation patterns of the Min-system. New Journal of Physics, 18(9):093049, 2016.

Heinz Friedrich Schöler

The Schöler group is studying in cooperation with Frank Keppler the formation of small organic molecules (halogenated and non-halogenated) in fluid inclusions of rocks and minerals as archives of prebiotic chemistry. Mechanistic aspects of molecule formation are investigated in cooperation with Michael Burchard applying hydrothermal environments on inorganic carbon species like carbonate and graphite.

Ref.: U. Schreiber, C. Mayer, O.J Schmitz, P. Rosendahl, A. Bronja, M. Greule, F. Keppler, I. Mulder, Tobias Sattler, H.F. Schöler. Organic compounds in fluid inclusions of Archean quartz - Analogues of prebiotic chemistry on early Earth. PLoS ONE 12(6):e0177570 · June 2017.

Oliver Trapp

Trapp is developing novel analytical approaches to study in detail complex reaction networks. He is designing and synthesizing stereochemically flexible catalysts to study self-amplifying processes in asymmetric catalysis, which might play an important role in the formation of homochirality and the origins of life.

Ref.: P. Herwig, K. Zawatzky, M. Grieser, O. Heber, B. Jordon-Thaden, C. Krantz, O. Novotny, R. Repnow, V. Schurig, D. Schwalm, Z. Vager, A. Wolf, O. Trapp, H. Kreckel, Science 2013, 342, 1084-1086.

F. Maier, O. Trapp, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 8756-8760.

Mario Trieloff

Trieloff serves as spokesman of the DFG national priority program 1385 “The first 10 Myrs of the solar system – a planetary materials approach”. He studies the origin and evolution of planetesimals and terrestrial planets in the early solar system by using radionuclide chronometry and isotope measurements of asteroidal, martian and lunar meteorites. Noble gas isotope studies are used to infer the origin of the volatile inventory and the atmospheres of the terrestrial planets, particularly the Earth. Laboratory equipment encompasses a new DFG funded ion microprobe laboratory, and several noble gas mass spectrometers.

Ref.: Trieloff M., Kunz J., Clague D.A., Harrison D. and Allègre C.J. (2000): The nature of pristine noble gases in mantle plumes. Science288, 1036-1038. Trieloff M., Jessberger E.K., 

Herrwerth I., Hopp J., Fiéni C., Ghélis M., Bourot-Denise M. and Pellas P. (2003): Structure and thermal history of the H-chondrite parent asteroid revealed by thermochronometry. Nature 422, 502-506.

Joachim Wambsganß

Wambsganss is involved in searches for extrasolar planets with gravitational microlensing. This method is well suited for the detection of low mass planets (and maybe even moons), and it provides a good basis for a Galactic census of exoplanets, particularly at the low mass end.  Wambsganss is a  member of the LCOGT Microlensing Key Project.

Ref.: A. Cassan et al. (incl. J. Wambsganss): One or more bound planets per Milky Way star from microlensing observations. Nature, 481, 167 (2012)

Andreas Wolf

The A. Wolf research group is performing experimental studies on reactions of atomic and molecular ions which influence the chemical composition of the interstellar medium and planetary atmospheres. They apply the Cryogenic Storage Ring (CSR) facility which offers an interaction-free cryogenic environment for stored fast beams of polyatomic ions – internal state controlled cations and anions from a wide range of ion chemistry sources. A focus is on the neutral fragments in dissociative recombination of cations and electrons and in photoinduced processes. Recent reaction studies include protonated species in gas-phase reaction chains, such as water and cyanic acid, and extension to more complex compounds is underway.

Ref.: M. B. Mendes et al., Cold Reactions Producing the Energetic Isomer of Hydrogen Cyanide in Interstellar Clouds, Astrophysical Journal Letters 746, L8 (2012)
(doi: 10.1088/2041-8205/746/1/L8)

 
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