Dr. Michael N. Mautner
Research Professor                                                                   
Department of Chemistry
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA 23284-2006



B.Sc.,  Hebrew University
M.Sc., Georgetown University
Ph. D., The Rockefeller University                                                             

Professional Affiliations

Research Professor, Department of Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia   23284-2006 (1990 - Present).
Adjunct Professor and Senior Fellow, Department of Chemistry, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (1992 – 2010)
Marsden Fellow and Senior Research Fellow, Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, Lincoln University, Lincoln, New Zealand (1990 - 2007).
Research Chemist, Staff and Contract, Chemical Kinetics Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology,  Gaithersburg, MD 20899 (1986 - 2010).
Associate and  Assistant Professor, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021 (1976 ‑ 1979).
Editorial Board, "Astrobiology" (2001-2005).
Associate Editor, "Space Power, Manufacturing and Resources"  (1990 - 1994).

Research Interests

Space Science, Astroecology, Life in Space

Astrochemical and prebiotic ion chemistry. Organic, hydrothermal and physical chemistry of planetary materials. Nutrient analysis of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, and algal, microbial and plant responses. Propulsion, astrometry, and microbiological requirements for directed panspermia. Astroecology, astroethics, and the prospects for future life in space. (More on research interests in space science and astroecology)

Physical Chemistry

Kinetics and thermochemistry of ions. Clusters, hydrogen bonding, charge transfer complexes, temperature and pressure effects on ion reactions. Applications to physical organic chemistry, biophysics and astrochemistry.
(More on research in ion chemistry)

Books and Websites

Seeding the Universe with Life - Securing Our Cosmological Future, Legacy Books, 2000. (www.amazon.com)

Related Websites




Publications: Space Science and Astroecology

Selected Papers

Directed Panspermia, Life in Space, Astroethics

Mautner, M. N. "Seeding the universe with Life: Securing our cosmological future." Journal of Cosmology 2010, 5, 982- 994.

Mautner, M. N. "Life-centered ethics and the human future in space." Bioethics 2009, 23, 433 - 440.

Mautner, M. N. “Life in the cosmological future: Resources, biomass and populations.” J. British Interplanetary Soc. 2005, 58, 167 – 180.

Mautner, M. N. “Directed panspermia. 3. Strategies and motivation for seeding star-forming clouds”, J. British Interplanetary Soc. 1997, 50, 93. 

Mautner, M. N." Directed panspermia. 2. Technological advances toward seeding other solar systems, and the foundations of panbiotic ethics", J. British Interplanetary Soc., 1995, 48, 435. 

Mautner, M. and Matloff, G. "Directed panspermia: A technical evaluation of seeding nearby solar systems." Bull. Astr. Soc., 1977, 9, 501; J. British Interplanetary Soc., 1979, 32, 419.

Astroecology and Space Resources 

Kennedy, J.; Mautner, M. N.; Barry, A.; Markwitz, A. “Microprobe analysis of brine shrimp grown on meteorite extracts.” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. B. 2007, 260, 184 - 189.

Mautner, M. N. “Planetary bioresources and astroecology. 1. Planetary microcosm bioassays of  Martian and meteorite materials:  soluble electrolytes,  nutrients,  and algal and plant responses.” Icarus 2002, 158, 72-86.

Mautner, M. N. “Planetary resources and astroecology. Planetary microcosm models of asteroid and meteorite interiors: electrolyte solutions and microbial growth. Implications for space populations and panspermia.” Astrobiology 2002, 2, 59-76.

Mautner, M. N. “Formation, chemistry and fertility of extraterrestrial soils: Cohesion, water adsorption and surface area of carbonaceous chondrites. Prebiotic and space resource applications.” Icarus 1999, 137, 178 – 195.

Mautner, M. N. “Biological potential of extraterrestrial materials. 1. Nutrients in carbonaceous meteorites, and effects on biological growth.” Planetary and Space Science, 1997, 45, 653-664.

Mautner, M. N.; Conner, A. J.; Killham, K.; Deamer, D. W. “Biological potential of extraterrestrial materials. 2. Microbial and plant responses to nutrients in the Murchison carbonaceous meteorite.” Icarus 1997, 129, 245-257.

Mautner, M. N.; Leonard, R. L.; Deamer, D. W. "Meteorite organics in planetary environments: Hydrothermal release, surface activity, and microbial utilization". Planetary and Space Science, 1995, 43, 139.

Publications: Physical Chemistry

Book Chapters

Meot-Ner (Mautner), M. "Charge transfer equilibria and complexes" in "The Encyclopedia of Mass Spectrometry: Theory and Ion Chemistry",  M. L. Gross, and R. Caprioli, eds. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2003, pp. 345-350.

Meot-Ner (Mautner), M. "Charge transfer complexes" in "The Encyclopedia of Mass Spectrometry: Theory and Ion Chemistry",  M. L. Gross, and R. Caprioli, eds. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2003, pp. 702-707.

Meot-Ner (Mautner), M "The ionic hydrogen bond: Clusters and ion solvation" in "The Encyclopedia of Mass Spectrometry: Theory and Ion Chemistry",  M. L. Gross, and R. Caprioli, eds. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2003, pp. 687-702.

Meot-Ner (Mautner), M. "The ionic hydrogen bond in complex organics and biomolecules" in "The Encyclopedia of Mass Spectrometry: Theory and Ion Chemistry", M. L. Gross and R. Caprioli, eds. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2003, pp. 835-843.

 Meot‑Ner (Mautner), M., "Temperature and pressure effects in the kinetics of ion reactions." In "Ion‑Molecule Reactions." M. T. Bowers, ed. , Academic Press, 1979, New York. Vol. 1 pp. 198‑ 268.

Meot‑Ner (Mautner), M. "Ionic hydrogen bonds. Part 1. Thermochemistry, structural implications, and role in ion solvation." In "Molecular Structure and Energetics.", A. Greenberg and J. F. Liebman, ed. VCH publishers, 1987, v. 4, p. 71.

Selected  Recent Papers

Momoh, P. O.; Xie, E.; Abrash, S. A.; Meot-Ner (Mautner), M.; El-Shall, M. S. "Gas phase reactions between acetylene radical cation and water. Energies, structures and formation mechanism of C2H3O+ and C2H4O·+ ions." J. Phys. Chem. A 2008, 112, 6066 – 6078.

 Momoh, P. O.; Soliman, A. R.; Meot-Ner (Mautner), M.; Ricca, A.; El-Shall, M. S. "Formation of complex organics from acetylene catalyzed by ionized benzene." J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 12848.

Meot-Ner (Mautner), M.; Somogyi, A. "A thermal extrapolation method for the effective temperatures and internal energies of activated ions." Int. J. Mass Spectrometry 2007, 267, 346-356.

Ibrahim, Y. M.; Meot-Ner (Mautner), M.; Alsharaeh, E. H.; El-Shall, M. S.; Scheiner, S. "Stepwise hydration of ionized aromatics. Energies, structures of the hydrated benzene cation, and the mechanism of deprotonation reactions." J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005, 127,   7053-7064.

Meot-Ner (Mautner), M. "The ionic hydrogen bond." Chem. Rev. 2005, 105, 213-284.

Francis, G. J.; Wilson, P. F.; Maclaglan, R. G. A. R.; Freeman, C. G.; Meot-Ner (Mautner), M.; McEwan, M. J. “Ionic reactions between formaldehyde and hydrocarbons. H2 transfer as a hydrogenation mechanism in astrochemistry.” J. Phys .Chem. A 2004, 108, 7548-7553. 

Mautner, M. N.; Ibrahim, Y.; Alsharaeh, E.; El-Shall, M. S.; Wilson, P. F.; McEwan, M. J. “New ionic reactions, and catalysis by polycyclic aromatics, as pathways in prebiotic synthesis.”  Int. J. Astrobiology 2004, Supplement 1, p. 103.

Meot-Ner (Mautner), M.  “The proton affinity scale, and effects of ion structure and solvation.” Int. J. Mass Spectrom. 2003, 227, 525-554.

Milligan, D. B.; Wilson, P. F.; Freeman, C. G.; Meot-Ner (Mautner), M.; McEwan, M. J. “Dissociative proton transfer reactions of H3+, N2H+, and H3O+ with acyclic, cyclic, and aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrogen compounds, and astrochemical implications.” J. Phys. Chem. A  2002, 106, 9745-9755.

Mautner, M.; Field F. H. "Proton affinity and ion‑molecule clustering in CO2 and CS2.  Applications in Martian ionospheric chemistry." J. Chem. Phys. 1977, 66, 4527.

Popular Science   

"Human Values and Technical Advances", The Futurist, July-August 1992, p. 41.

"Will Cloning End Human Evolution?" The Futurist, November-December 1998.

"Engineering the Earth's Climate from Space", The Futurist, March-April 1993, p. 33.

"The Role of Space in Preserving and Propagating Life", Spaceflight, 1995.

"Meteorite Organics, and the Origins and Future of Life", New Zealand Science Monthly, October 1995.

"Meteorites, and the Origin and Future of Life", Meteorites, January 2002.

More on Research in Space Science, Astroecology, Life in Space

 Life is unique in nature and has immense potentials in space. We as intelligent beings can secure and advance that future. My research in this area concerns the science and ethics of promoting life in space, in this Solar System and beyond. In this Solar System, in situ organic space resources are contained in carbonaceous chondrite asteroids, as represented by meteorites. Our studies established that algae, bacteria and plant cultures can grow on these space materials. These studies applied miniaturized soil science methods to analyze nutrients in meteorite/asteroid and in Martian materials. Based on key nutrient such as phosphate and nitrate, immense amounts of life, on the order of 1018 kg (a million trillion kg) of biomass,  and 1015 (a million billion) humans, a hundred thousand times the Earth’s population, can be sustained by the asteroids in this Solar System alone. These results suggest that asteroids/meteorites could have sustained early life, and can support immense amounts of future life in this, and potentially in millions of other, solar systems. To this effect, we can launch directed panspermia missions to new solar systems, using solar sails, high-precision astrometry, and diverse colonizing microorganisms. These programs may be motivated by biotic ethics that value the basic patterns of our family of gene/protein life, and by panbiotic ethics that aim to secure and advance life in space. These new branches of life may lead to intelligent species who will further expand life in the galaxy. When life then fills the universe, our human existence will find a cosmic purpose.

Publications in Space Science and Astroecology

More on Research Interests in Gas Phase Ion Chemistry

 Electrically charged ions are prevalent in chemistry, including acid/base behavior, biochemistry, proteins and enzymes, catalysis, industrial processes, supramolecular structure, planetary ionospheres and interstellar chemistry. Ionic processes in the gas phase can be studied directly by mass spectrometry. Some of these reactions show unusual negative temperature coefficients, that are important for ionic polymerization and for astrochemistry in cold interstellar clouds. Other ionic reactions, in solution, are strongly affected by solvation. Gas-phase studies of these reactions show the intrinsic solvent-free molecular effects on these processes. Comparison with solution then reveals and quantifies the strong effects of solvation on the energies of ions and on the kinetics of ionic reactions. My research concerns the thermochemistry of protonation and deprotonation of organic molecules, and intermolecular forces, especially ionic hydrogen bonds, between ions and molecules in clusters.  The results provide basic insights in physical organic chemistry, biochemistry and bioenergetics, astrochemistry and astrobiology.

Publications in Physical Chemistry