Modern and Ancient Earth

Our research examines the direct aqueous photochemistry of organic molecules under conditions relevant to planetary environments, including the modern and ancient Earth as well as other potentially habitable worlds.

We conduct detailed photochemical experiments that allow us to examine, mechanistically, changes in reactivity that occur as a function of reaction conditions, including photon flux, atmospheric composition, and solution conditions (e.g. pH and salinity). In tandem with photochemical studies, we also explore how intermolecular interactions mediate chemistry, both through orientation and concentration at interfaces and through the formation of supramolecular assemblies. 

Using model chemical systems, we can systematically increase the complexity of model systems to investigate the origins of emergent behavior. This research is grounded in fundamental physical chemistry but is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on organic chemistry, environmental chemistry, biophysics, and planetary science.

Group of four research students with Rebecca Rapf standing in front of the Trinity Tower


Rapf Research Group student logo