David Eric Smith

Georgia Tech, CE 305

Ph.D. Physics, University of Texas. Austin. TX, 1993 B.S. Physics/Math, California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA, 1987

Research Interests: 

I work in the areas of geochemical origins of life, and major evolutionary transitions. A particular area of interest is why the amino acid assignments in the genetic code have so much regularity with respect to the early parts of their biosynthetic pathways — even more than with respect to the final properties of the coded amino acids — and what this regularity tells us about the coevolutionary origins of the ribosome, the amninoacyl tRNA synthetases, and the biosynthetic pathways themselves. A second project focus is the modern statistical physics of driven non-equilibrium systems. I work to develop the principles beyond equilibrium thermodynamics that we will need to understand the distinctive features of the biosphere as a planetary subsystem.

Selected publications: 

Eric Smith and Harold J. Morowitz, The Origin and Nature of Life on Earth: The Emergence of the Fourth Geosphere (Cambridge U. Press, London, 2016)

Eric Smith and Supriya Krishnamurthy, Symmetry and Collective Fluctuations in Evolutionary Games (IOP Press, Bristol, 2016)

Betül Kaçar, Lionel Guy, Eric Smith, and John A. Baross, “Resurrecting ancestral genes in bacteria to interpret ancient biosignatures” Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A 375 (2017) 20160352

Rogier Braakman and Eric Smith, “The compositional and evolutionary logic of metabolism” Phys. Biol. 10 (2013) 011001

Shelley D. Copley, Eric Smith, and Harold J. Morowitz, “The origin of the RNA world: Co-evolution of genes and metabolism”, Bioorganic Chemistry 35 (2007) 430–443

Shelley D. Copley, Eric Smith and Harold J. Morowitz, “A mechanism for the association of amino acids with their codons and the origin of the genetic code”, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 102, (2005) 4442–4447

Eric Smith and Harold J. Morowitz, “Universality in intermediary metabolism”, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 101 (2004) 13168-13173