Maheen Gull, Ph.D.



I am a researcher who has been affiliated with the University of South Florida (USF) as a researcher and an instructor since July 2011. I research on origins of life, prebiotic chemistry, bio-inorganic, mineral catalysis, and synthetic organic chemistry.


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Citizenship: United States

Work Experience

University of South Florida (07/13/2011-Present)

Research Scientist (10/2018- Present): Studying the fate of reduced phosphorus species through Fenton Chemistry and the role of reduced P species in the origin of life. Minerals and the origin of life

Courtesy Research Assistant Professor (10/2016- 07/2019): Researched the origin of biological phosphates, ‘Sulphur’ biochemistry and special minerals and clays such as struvite, schreibersite, ulexite, apatite, montmorillonite, kaolinite, and sand

Lab Chemist/Research Specialist, School of Geosciences (05/2016-08/2016): Researched on various aspects of phosphorus organic and geochemistry, meteorite mineral schreibersite and its relevance to the origin of life, various synthetic reactions in eutectic solvents

Visiting Chemistry Instructor, Dept. of Chemistry (08/2015-05/2016)

General Chemistry 1 (CHM 2045)

General Chemistry 1 labs. (CHM 2045 L)

Fundamentals of physical sciences (ISC 3403) about 8 students

Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Geosciences (07/2011-08/2015): Researched prebiotic phosphorylation reactions on the early Earth, deep eutectic solvents and various other ionic solvents, mineral catalysis, and the origin of life and taught phosphorus geochemistry

NASA/NSF’s Center for Chemical Evolution (09/2012-08/2015): Affiliated with Georgia Institute of Technology, Scripps, and Emory universities under a joint effort partly funded by NASA and NSF to conduct research on joint projects on various aspects of prebiotic chemistry

University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore, Pakistan (03/2006-06/2011): Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry (01/ 2010-06/2011)

Taught various graduate and undergraduate chemistry courses and supervised research projects of graduate students

Lecturer of Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry (03/ 2006- 07/2006)

Taught various graduate and undergraduate chemistry courses

Professional Skills

General Chemistry Skills: Wet chemistry techniques such as titrations, extractions, digestions and preparations of various test solutions

Specialized Chemistry Skills: Synthesis of phosphate esters of biological relevance such as alcohol phosphates (glycerol and ethanolamine phosphates), sugar phosphates such as (ribose and glucose phosphates) as well as nucleotides of RNA and DNA, phosphorus biochemistry, the origin of phosphorylated biomolecules on the early Earth, deep eutectic solvents & ionic solvents, mineral catalysis, meteorite minerals, hydrothermal chemistry, syntheses of various drug derivatives

Instrumentation techniques: NMR, mass spectrometer, HPLC, XRD, Raman and UV spectroscopy, atomic absorption spectrometer, and glove box        

Specialized software skills: Chemdraw, ACD Labs, Spinworks, Sigma Plot, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and word

Education & Professional Preparation

09/2006- 06/2010   Ph. D. (Inorganic Chemistry), State Key Laboratory of Inorganic Synthesis & Preparative Chemistry, College of   Chemistry, Jilin University, China

01/2003-11/2005   M. Phil (Inorganic Chemistry), Institute of Chemistry, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan          

01/2001-12/2002   MS (Organic Chemistry), Institute of Chemistry, University of the Punjab,

                             Lahore, Pakistan                                                  

01/1999-12/2000   BS (Zoology, Botany, Chemistry) Queen Mary College, Lahore, Pakistan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Additional Training, certifications & significant collaborations

Certificate of Training of EHS Lab & Research Safety granted by Division of Environmental Health & Safety, University of South Florida (2016)

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program, University of Miami (2014)

Collaboration with Georgia Institute of Technology as well as Scripps Institution, under a joint research center called Center for Chemical Evolution, a NASA/NSF’s funded research center (2012-2015)


Peer-Reviewed Publications

Manuscripts in prep/submitted:


1.  Pasek, M.A.; Gull, M. Manuscript in prep. Role of meteoritic impacts in the production of reduced phosphorus.

2. Gull, M and Pasek, M.A. Manuscript in prep. Prebiotic Chemistry of Phosphite: Mild thermal routes to form Condensed-P Energy Currency Molecules leading up to the formation of organophosphorus compounds.

3. Gull, M. et. al. Solution chemistry of the meteoritic mineral schreibersite and its implications on the availability of phosphorus on the early Earth. Manuscript in prep.

4. Gull, M and Pasek, M.A. Prebiotic phosphorylation solvents. Invited article for the special issue of the journal Liquids.

 Published/accepted research papers

5. Gull, M. et al. Organophosphorus Compound Formation Through the Oxidation of Reduced Oxidation State Phosphorus Compounds on the Hadean Earth. J Mol Evol (2022).

6. Pasek, M.A.; Omran, A and Gull, M. et. al. Serpentinization as a route to liberating phosphorus on habitable worlds. Manuscript submitted to Geochimica et. Cosmochimica Acta

7. Gull, M et al. Catalytic Prebiotic Syntheses of Glycerol and its Phosphorylated Derivatives and

their Potential Significance in the origin of Life. Catalysts 2021, 11, 86.

8. Gull, M et al. Catalytic prebiotic formation of the phosphate esters of glycerol, estimation of their decomposition rates and its implications in the origin & cell membranes on the early Earth. Catalysts, 2021.

9. Tian, F.; Gull, M.; Pasek, M.A. The evolution of ephemeral phosphate minerals on planetary

 environments. Manuscript accepted 2021.

10. Gull, M. et al. Silicate-, magnesium sulphate-, and urea-induced prebiotic phosphorylation of uridine via pyrophosphate; revisiting the drying water pool scenario. Life 2020, 10, 122.

11. Gull, M. et al. Prebiotic non-aqueous phosphorylation via Fenton Chemistry. Manuscript in prep. 2021.

12. Gull, M. et al. Discovery of reduced phosphorus in ancient Archean rocks.  Manuscript in prep. 2021.

13. Pasek, M. A.; Gull, M.; Herschy, B. Origin of life on the early Earth. Chemical Geology 2017, 475, 149-170. IF=4.0

14. Gull, M.; Cafferty, B.; Hud, N. V.; Pasek, M. A. Silicate-promoted phosphorylation of glycerol in non-aqueous solvents: a prebiotically plausible route to organophosphates. Life 2017, 7(3), 29.

15. Burcar, B.; Pasek, M. A.; Gull, M. et al. Darwin's Warm Little Pond: A one-pot reaction for prebiotic phosphorylation and the mobilization of phosphate from minerals in a urea-based solvent. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2016, 55, 13249.

16. Cruz, N. L.; Qasim, D.; Abbott-Lyon, H.; Pirim, C.; McKee, A. D.; Orlando, T.; Gull, M. et al. The evolution of the surface of the mineral schreibersite in prebiotic chemistry. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2016, 18, 20160-20167. 

17. Gull, M. et. al. Nucleoside phosphorylation by the mineral schreibersite. Scientific Reports 2015, 5, Article number: 17198.

18. Gull, M. Prebiotic Phosphorylation Reactions on the Early Earth, Challenges 2014, 2, 193-212.

19. Gull, M. et. al. Prebiotic Phosphate Ester Syntheses in a Deep Eutectic Solvent. J. Mol. Evol. 2014, 78, 109-117.

20. Gull, M.; Pasek, M. A. Is struvite a prebiotic mineral?  Life 2013, 3, 321-330. IF=2.99

21. Pasek, M.A.; Harnmeijer, J.; Buick, R.; Gull, M.; Atlas, Z. Evidence for reactive reduced phosphorus species in the early Archean Ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 2013, 110, 10089-10094.

22. Gull, M. et. al. Resolving the Enigma of Prebiotic C-O-P Bond Formation: Prebiotic hydrothermal synthesis of important biological phosphate esters” Heteroatom Chemistry 2010, 21, 161-167.

23. Gull, M. et. al. A Novel Synthetic Route to Synthesize 2,4,8,10-Tetraoxaspiro [5.5]-Undecane from Formaldehyde under Hydrothermal Conditions” Journal of Heterocyclic Chemistry 2010 Volume 47, 483-485.

24. Janjua, M. R. S. A.; Su, Z-M.; Guan, w.; Liu, C-G.; Yan, L-K.; Song, P.; Gull, M. Tuning second-Order non-linear (NLO) optical response of organoimido-substituted hexamolybdates through halogens: Quantum Design of Novel Organic-Inorganic Hybrid NLO Materials” Aust J Chem 2010 63, 836–844.

25. Gull, M. et. al. Mimicking the Prebiotic Acidic Hydrothermal Environment: One Pot Prebiotic Hydrothermal Synthesis of Glucose Phosphates. Heteroatom Chemistry 2011, 22, issue 2, 186-191.



Matthew. A. Pasek and Maheen Gull. Phosphorylation of organics in a deep eutectic solvent (Provisional Patent)


Graduate Dissertations

1. Ph.D. Prebiotic Mineral Catalysis and Hydrothermal Synthesis of Some Biologically Important Phosphate Compounds (Bio-inorganic   Chemistry/Astrobiology)

2. M.Phil Metal complexes of antibiotic Amoxicillin and its antimicrobial properties (Bio-inorganic chemistry)

3. M. S: Esterification reactions of Molasses (Organic Chemistry)


Selected Conferences/Work Presentations

1. Pasek, M.A and Gull, M. An early Earth was predisposed to phosphorylation via Fenton Chemistry. Poster presentation, Astrobiology Sci. Con 2019.

2. Burcar, B.T.; Pasek, M.A.; Gull, M. et. al. Phosphorylation in Urea-Rich Eutectic Solvents, XVIIIth International Conference on the Origin of Life. 2017

3. Mojica, M.A, Gull, M, Pasek, M.A, et al. A Systems Chemistry Investigation into Nucleoside Phosphorylation Mechanisms by Prebiotic Meteoritic Materials. Poster presentation, PittCon. Conference & Expo. 2016, Atlanta, USA

4. Gull, M and Pasek, M.A. Phosphorylation of organics in deep eutectic solvents. Poster presentation, Astrobiology Science Conference 15th-19th June 2015, Chicago, USA

5. Nikita, L.C, Pasek, M.A., Pirim, C., Sampson, J.M., Lindsay, D., Gull, M. Synthesis and corrosion of schreibersite and nickel phosphide and possible implications for the origin of life. GSA, oct. 19-22, 2014, Vancouver, Canada

6. Gull, M and Pasek, M. A. Prebiotic phosphorylation reactions and origin of life on the early Earth. Poster Presentation, NASA Ab.Grad.Con. Troy, New York, 2014

7. Gull, M, Zhou, M, Fernandez, F.M., Pirim, C., Orlando, T., Bryant, D.E., Kee, T.P., and Pasek, M.A. Cell membrane making lipid-P formation by Meteoritic Phosphorus source. Poster presentation at Gordon conference of Origin of Life, Galveston, Texas, USA, Gordon Origin of Life conference (12-17th Jan-2014), Galveston, Texas, USA

8. Gull, M and Pasek, M. A. Role of Phosphorus Minerals in the Origin of Life on Earth. Poster presentation at AGU, San Francisco California (9th-13th Dec 2013)

9. Gull, M and Pasek, M. A. Phosphorylation in deep eutectic solvents, Poster presentation, April 17, 2012, NASA Astrobiology Conference April 2012 (Atlanta, Ga)

10. Gull, M and Pasek, M. A. Phosphorylation in Deep Eutectic solvents (the case of calcium phosphates), Poster presentation at NASA Astrobiology Conference (California) August 28, 2012

11. G. Tian, He. C, M. Gull, M. Hydrothermal Biochemistry. The 2nd International Solvothermal & Hydrothermal Association Conference, (Beijing, China) July 2010

Research contributions & Honors

Appointed as ‘Courtesy assistant professor ‘by USF

Research publications in the world’s leading journals such as PNAS (2013) and Scientific Reports (2015), Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2016) attracted a lot of media attention

One provisional patent on phosphorylation in the eutectic solvents

Contributed to NASA astrobiology as an active researcher: 2012-2015 (NASA/NSF’s Center for Chemical Evolution), and 2011-2013 & 2018-Present (NASA Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology).

Honors & Awards

 Travel grant by CCE (Center for Chemical Evolution) to present my research work at Gordon Origin of life conference 2014

NASA travel grants (2012, 2013 and 2014) to present my work at NASA astrobiology graduate conferences (California 2012), (Canada 2013) and (Troy, New York 2014)

Travel grant by USF post-doctoral association to present my research work at Astrobiology Science conference 2012 (Atlanta)

(China) June 2010, Roll of Honor granted by Jilin University, College of Chemistry, as my PhD thesis was ranked among top  10                           

(China) 2006-2010, Cultural Exchange Scholarship: Granted by Chinese Scholarship Council for Ph.D. studies                                      

(Pakistan) 2003-2004, Higher Education Commission Scholarship

(Pakistan) 2003-2004, Roll of Honor: By Queen Marry College, Lahore, Pakistan  

(Pakistan) 2001-2002, Govt. Merit Scholarship: By University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan


Undergraduate Research students mentoring

Spring 2015, Lyle Garong, Project: Prebiotic Phosphorylation   reactions (USF)

Summer 2013, Greg Maurer, Project: Prebiotic chemistry in simulated tidal      environments (USF)

Summer 2009, Wang Yu, Project: Hydrothermal synthesis of glycerol phosphates (Jilin University)