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Biography 26: Stanley Lloyd Miller (1930 - )

Stanley Miller was born in Oakland, California. According to Miller, a scientific career was an easy choice to make since he grew up in the era of scientific discoveries.

Miller graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. He then went to the University of Chicago to do graduate work. He attended a seminar Harold Urey gave on the origins of the solar system. Urey presented the idea of organic molecules being synthesized in a primitive Earth atmosphere. When Miller was looking for a thesis project, he remembered this idea and approached Urey. Initially reluctant to put a graduate student on such a risky project, Urey agreed to a six-month trial. Miller designed an apparatus and used it to simulate the conditions on Earth before life appeared. Once the conditions were worked out, Miller quickly got results and synthesized many of the simple organic molecules necessary for life. Miller published his results in Science in 1953; his name was the only one on the paper. Urey did not want his name on the paper as he felt that Miller did all the work.

After graduating in 1954, Miller did a post-doc at the California Institute of Technology. From 1955-1960 he was an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Columbia University. He then accepted a position in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego where he is now a full professor. He has co-authored a book, The Origin of Life on Earth. His research interests focus on pre-biotic synthesis of nucleotides as well as alternative backbones to ribose phosphate in the first genetic material of the pre-RNA world.

Description:
Stanley Miller and Harold Urey demonstrated that organic molecules can be synthesized under prebiotic conditions.
Keywords:
primitive earth atmosphere, research interests focus, california institute of technology, origins of the solar system, stanley miller, rna world, lloyd miller, organic molecules, origin of life on earth
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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