Dr. Maurer is interested in the abiogenesis from both the origins-of-life and synthetic biology perspectives. She builds model cells from amphiphiles, and examines possible life-like properties, such as metabolism or growth and division.
She uses a variety of techniques, including fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, UV-Vis spectroscopy, ELISA, gas chromatography, and high pressure liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. She is always looking for enthusiastic students to do research
Her current projects include:
- Determination of membrane fitness landscapes and applying high throughput methods to understand and predict environmental and functional membrane fitness
- Changes in mixtures of prebiotic chemicals when put under environmental pressure. She is specifically interested in the loss of molecular diversity and an increase in function through environmental selection.
- Electron transport across membranes in prebiotic systems to understand the limitations and opportunities that membranes impart when part of a gradient metabolism.
- Development of archaeal liposomes to understand the role of membrane composition of measured functions.
Her research has been funded through both NSF and NASA. Her current external grants include:
- NSF. MFB: Accelerating the Discovery of Novel Liposome Formations with Origins-of-Life Insights, Laboratory Automation, and Machine Learning
- Heising-Simons Foundation. Enceladus Plume Chemistry: From Lab to Telescope