Irene Chen

Irene Chen

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of California, Santa Barbara


The processes that led to the origins of life and the emergence of complexity—specifically seeking to understand the transition from chemistry to evolution in the early stage of life, when RNA both stored genetic information and catalyzed chemical reactions. 

In the news

It’s the RNA, Stupid!

Irene Chen comes to UCSB in search of the origins of life.
Mission & State

Origin of Life Chicken-and-Egg Problem Solved

Scientists have wondered how the first simple, self-replicating chemicals could have formed complex, information-rich genetic structures, when replication was originally such an error-prone process. Every advance would soon be lost to copying errors.


Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry 9510
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9510

Phone: 805-893-8364
Fax: 805-893-4120