Ben K.D. Pearce

Discovering the pathway to the emergence of life


Who am I?

I'm a PhD Candidate in theoretical astrophysics and astrobiology at the Origins Institute at McMaster University in Canada. I build numerical models based on chemical, geophysical, biological, and astrophysical data to try to understand one of the most fundamental mysteries in the cosmos: how did life begin?

Research Overview

One of the deepest questions intelligent beings can ponder is, where did we come from? Evolution by natural selection explains how simple cellular life progressed into the diverse set of species we observe on Earth today, but it is still unclear how non-living, organic molecules converted into to something that can reproduce and evolve. Evidence is growing for the idea that if the right ingredients are settled in the right environment, life will arise naturally. My research focuses on the early stages of this hypothesis, beginning on the surface of our early habitable planet with only the basic starting materials delivered by asteroids and comets, or those readily available from atmospheric and terrestrial processes. For details, see the features section below, or the tab labelled publications. Everything I publish is available to read for free on arxiv.

Ben K. D.Pearce, PhD Candidate in Astrophysics and Astrobiology Origins Institute, McMaster University

Ben K. D.Pearce, PhD Candidate in Astrophysics and Astrobiology
Origins Institute, McMaster University


“To be considered living, you at least need information that can be copied imperfectly.”

Ben K. D. Pearce  |  PhD Candidate




cozzarelli prize

Our paper on the origin of the RNA world wins PNAS Cozzarelli Prize!


quirks and quarks

My interview with Bob McDonald on CBC Quirks and Quarks.



Life’s emergence on Earth was likely between 4.5 and 3.7 billion years ago, our paper reviews.




For the curious mind

How did life on Earth begin? A webinar episode of “For the Curious Mind” for the McMaster Alumni Association.

Answering alumni questions

Interested in what makes the sky blue… for humans?
Ben gives the answer on Answering Alumni Questions.


Our research featured on the popular science youtube channel SciShow.