Guillermo Monreal Santiago - Life as a PhD student in Chemistry

By: ResMoSys Innovative Training Network

Hi everybody. I am Guillermo Monreal Santiago. That is a Spanish name, I originally come from Madrid and I am now doing a PhD in Groningen, it is a small city in the northern part of the Netherlands. It is a very small city, the weather is always terrible, but apart from that it is quite beautiful and it is nice living there. There is a lot of students, the average age is like 30-something, that means there is a lot of young people around. And I am working at the University of Groningen in the laboratory of professor Sijbren Otto.

So I will try to introduce you to our work. Have you ever wondered how life began? Do not worry, I am not talking about birds and bees or monkeys following humans or evolution. I am talking about what came before that, I am talking about prebiotic systems.

Some of the biggest questions science is trying to answer right now is: Where did life originate? So, which mechanism. How can you start from a soup of ammonia, CO2 and water, boil it and end up with something as complex as a cell. Where does it stop being chemistry and where does it start being life? Of course, the answer to this question is not completely clear. However, most experts agree that, in order to say that something is alive, it needs to at least have: 15 00:01:40,100 --> 00:01:43,000 Metabolism, Compartmentalization and Self-replication. So, basically: Eat well, have a house, give us grandchildren.

Your parents were right all this time. In our group, we discovered a molecule that is able to fulfill one of these properties. By forming stacks with exact copies of itself, it is able to increase the speed of its own formation.

Guillermo Monreal Santiago - Life as a PhD student in Chemistry

And therefore, to copy itself and self-replicate. Right now, we are researching the properties of this molecules and also trying to introduce life-like properties into it. If you want to know more about our work, go to or follow the link to see the movie. And if you want to know more about ResMoSys, the European program where I am researching to introduce these functions in to smart materials follow our page and see the videos of my other colleagues. So, I hope you enjoyed it.

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