The Australian Centre for Astrobiology is based in the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.

Modern day biology is an incredibly complex network of chemical reactions – but where and how did it all start? The field of prebiotic chemistry is focused on uncovering the very beginnings of life, from a chemical perspective. Research in astrophysics and geology informs our knowledge of which simple molecules were most likely to be present on the early Earth, or were delivered to Earth from space on meteorites, billions of years ago. We can use these molecules as building blocks in chemical reactions to model potential geochemical scenarios on ancient Earth that begin to generate more complex molecules. By studying prebiotic chemistry, we can learn how the first cells formed, how metabolism started and evolved, how genetic information arose while gaining insights into biochemical reactions as we know them today.

Our projects within the School of Chemistry focus on a diverse range of topics within prebiotic chemistry, many of which are carried out in collaboration with the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences: