Profile of the advisor

Prof. dr. Sijbren Otto is Professor of Systems Chemistry at the University of Groningen. After a PhD in Groningen in 1998, a postdoc in the US and the UK, he started his academic career in 2001 at the University of Cambridge. He moved back to Groningen in 2009. He holds an ERC Advanced Grant and has coordinated several EU networks on systems chemistry and the origins of life. Sijbren has always been fascinated by questions related to origins and evolution of life. Following the serendipitous discovery of self-replicating molecules, his research interests now focus on breathing life into systems of replicators by integrating other important functional characteristics of life: compartmentalization and metabolism.


Reactivity and assembly of organic molecules in water, Self-replication, Supramolecular systems chemistry, Autocatalytic networks, Compartmentalization, Modelling, Pre-biotic chemistry, Darwinian evolution.

Profile of the research group

The systems chemistry group consists of about 20 students and postdocs from all over the world and from diverse background. Long-term goal of the group is the de-novo synthesis of life, ideally from non-biological components. Tools that are used for this purpose include organic synthesis, dynamic combinatorial chemistry, analytical methods to analyze complex mixtures (UPLC-MS) and any other techniques that help to understand the behavior of complex molecular networks (kinetics, simulations, TEM, AFM, optical spectroscopies etc). The atmosphere in the group is one of creativity, collegiality and cooperation.