The research in our laboratory is directed towards elucidating the fundamental chemical and physical principles that govern nucleic acid (RNA and DNA) assembly. We are interested in how the physical properties of nucleic acids govern biological functions in contemporary life, and how these same properties provide clues to the origin and early evolution of life. We are also applying our knowledge of nucleic acids to problems that are of current importance in medicine and biotechnology. Specific projects include investigations of: 1) the origin and evolution of RNA; 2) cation, solvent and small molecule binding to nucleic acids; 3) nucleic acid condensation and packaging; and 4) folding and evolution of the ribosome. Our research involves the application of a wide variety of physical and chemical techniques.