Associate Professor, PhD
Office: C 116, H. C. Ørsted Institute
Phone: +45 20732494
Interactions between organic molecules and mineral surfaces are vital for many forms of life and biomineralising organisms are superior in controlling mineral growth. The controls they use are deceptively simple (e.g. ions, polymers, electrons), however, when we seek to mimic such interactions e.g. for bioinspired approaches to materials design and synthesis, we are hindered by the lack of knowledge about the underlying molecular-scale mechanisms these polymer-mineral interactions rely upon. I am particularly interested in obtaining quantitative insight into the underlying mechanistic parameters that essentially control the polymer-mineral interactions.
I am an experimentalist and use in-situ molecular- to macro scale studies and my research is currently focused toward to i) understand how organic polymers influence the thermodynamic barriers for mineralisation and ii) obtain quantitative kinetic and thermodynamic bond parameters describing the polymer-mineral interactions.
Currently I am very focused toward the strength and stability of DNA and mineral bonds. A number of studies have highlighted that adsorption to minerals increases DNA longevity in the environment. Such DNA-mineral associations can essentially serve as pools of genes that can be stored across time. Importantly, this DNA is available for incorporation into alien organisms through the process of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). I find that minerals hold an unrecognized potential for successfully transferring genetic material across environments and timescales to distant organisms
and hypothesize that this process has significantly influenced the evolution of life. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02217/full
My long-term ambitions are two fold: i) I want to upscale my nano-scale insight on biomimetic mineral reactions to address some of society’s problems such as scaling, atmospheric CO2 levels and remediation. ii) I aim to develop my hypotheses on mineral facilitated evolution of life to eventually prove or disprove the concept.
I am currently working on
Mineral facilitated evolution of life
Kat-Trap: Using a biomimetic approach to enhance trapping of CO2 into carbonates (geologic CO2 storage).
Prebiotic RNA polymerization
Ironbug: Influence of biofilm in iron oxide formation and development of approach to obtain absolute bond parameters from mineral-polymer interactions.
ElectroBug: Engineered electron transfer between microbes and iron oxides