ETH Zurich Foundation, Uplift: Origin of life

Origin of life

ETH Zurich Foundation, Uplift: Origin of life

Didier Queloz

Nobel laureate, Professor of Exoplanets at ETH Zurich, Director Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life

Examining life from all sides

In 1995, in collaboration with my PhD supervisor Michel Mayor, I succeeded in discovering the first planet orbiting a star other than the Sun. It was to take years until the scientific community accepted our findings and grasped their implications. This began a series of advances that led to the discovery of many other extrasolar planets and spurred on the search for life beyond Earth.

I’m convinced that there’s life in the universe. The only question is whether we’ll ever find it. To this end, ETH Zurich set up a new research and teaching centre in 2022. Named the “Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life”, it consists of over forty research groups from seven departments. This diversity is required, as the question of the origin of life – resembling a huge puzzle – needs a multi-perspective approach and research culture.

Read on to find out more about some of the younger researchers working on our mission and join us on one of the most exciting journeys of all – the journey to where life begins!

Meteorite splinters provide Craig Walton with important clues about the environment on Earth over four billion years ago.
© ETH Foundation / Daniel Winkler

The rocky road to the beginning

Craig Walton’s quest is to find out which conditions on Earth gave rise to life. Thanks to a NOMIS fellowship, he can draw on the unique expertise available at ETH’s Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life.         read more

So-called super-Earths and mini-Neptunes are the focus of Caroline Dorn's work.
© ETH Foundation / Daniel Winkler

Understanding distant worlds

Caroline Dorn is exploring what exoplanets are made of. In our interview, the ETH professor explains why she expects major progress to be made in her field of research relatively soon.         read more

© ETH Foundation / Daniel Winkler

Unlocking potential

By supporting the next generation of peace mediators at ETH Zurich, Dorothy and John Nagulendran want to show how private philanthropy can make a difference in addressing global challenges.         read more

© ETH Foundation / Daniel Winkler
© ETH Foundation / Kristina Milkovic

Solving the mystery of life

Founded in 2022, the Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life (COPL) comprises researchers from more than 40 groups across a wide range of disciplines, including biology, chemistry, earth sciences, astrophysics and environmental systems sciences.         read more

Deep insights

Martin Pilhofer’s research helps us better understand how life on Earth emerged and evolved. His professorship was created with the support of partners.         read more

Uplift subscription