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Dr James Tour and Dave Farina "Professor Dave"
Dr. James Tour and Dave Farina will debate the state of abiogenesis on May 19th 2023

  Submit Your Question

Do you have a burning question about the origin of life for Dr. Tour or Professor Dave? Submit your question for a chance to have it answered in the debate on May 19th. It’s not possible to ask all submitted questions during the Q&A period but this will help inform future YouTube videos.

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 Join us for an exciting debate between Dr James Tour and Dave Farina on The Science of Abiogenesis. This in-person event will take place on Fri May 19 at 7:00 PM CT in Keck Hall 100, Houston, TX and will be streamed LIVE on YouTube!

Dr James Tour is a world-renowned scientist and professor of chemistry at Rice University. He will be presenting evidence that he believes demonstrate huge problems and hype in the origin of life field. Dave Farina is a prominent atheist and Youtuber who will argue for the theory of abiogenesis, the idea that life arose from non-living matter through natural processes.

Join us Friday May 19 at 7PM CT at Rice University or online to for this highly anticipated event!

Abiogenesis, the idea that life arose from nonlife more than 3.5 billion years ago on Earth. Abiogenesis proposes that the first life-forms generated were very simple and through a gradual process became increasingly complex.

- britannica.com

Abiogenesis is the scientific study of how life may have arisen from non-living matter. This field of research seeks to understand the chemical and physical processes that could have led to the emergence of the first self-replicating molecules and ultimately, to the origins of life on Earth. One of the biggest challenges in abiogenesis research is identifying the precise conditions that existed on the early Earth and determining which chemical reactions could have occurred spontaneously to give rise to the necessary building blocks of life.  Another challenge is reconciling the apparent complexity and specificity of modern biological systems with the simplicity and randomness of the chemical reactions that likely occurred in the early Earth’s environment.

Dr. James Tour

Research Summary

Tour’s scientific research areas include nanoelectronics, graphene electronics, silicon oxide electronics, carbon nanovectors for medical applications, green carbon research for enhanced oil recovery and environmentally friendly oil and gas extraction, graphene photovoltaics, carbon supercapacitors, lithium ion batteries, lithium metal batteries, CO2 capture, water splitting to H2 and O2, water purification, carbon nanotube and graphene synthetic modifications, graphene oxide, carbon composites, hydrogen storage on nanoengineered carbon scaffolds, and synthesis of single-molecule nanomachines which includes molecular motors and nanocars and nanomachines that can drill through cell membranes. He has also developed strategies for retarding chemical terrorist attacks. For pre-college education, Tour developed the NanoKids concept for K-12 education in nanoscale science, and also Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero science packages for elementary and middle school education: SciRave (www.scirave.org) which later expanded to a Stemscopes-based SciRave. The SciRave program has risen to be the #1 most widely adopted program in Texas to complement science instruction, and it is currently used by over 450 school districts and 40,000 teachers with over 1 million student downloads.



James M. Tour, a synthetic organic chemist, received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Syracuse University, his Ph.D. in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue University, and postdoctoral training in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University. After spending 11 years on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina, he joined the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University in 1999 where he is presently the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering. Tour has about 650 research publications and over 200 patents, with an H-index = 129 and i10 index = 538 with total citations over 77,000 (Google Scholar). He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015. Tour was named among “The 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today” by TheBestSchools.org in 2014; listed in “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch.com in 2014; recipient of the Trotter Prize in “Information, Complexity and Inference” in 2014; and was the Lady Davis Visiting Professor, Hebrew University, June, 2014. Tour was named “Scientist of the Year” by R&D Magazine, 2013. He was awarded the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching, 2012, Rice University; won the ACS Nano Lectureship Award from the American Chemical Society, 2012; was the Lady Davis Visiting Professor, Hebrew University, June, 2011; and was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2009. Tour was ranked one of the Top 10 chemists in the world over the past decade, by a Thomson Reuters citations per publication index survey, 2009; won the Distinguished Alumni Award, Purdue University, 2009; and the Houston Technology Center’s Nanotechnology Award in 2009. He won the Feynman Prize in Experimental Nanotechnology in 2008, the NASA Space Act Award in 2008 for his development of carbon nanotube reinforced elastomers, and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society for his achievements in organic chemistry in 2007. Tour was the recipient of the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching in 2007. He also won the Small Times magazine’s Innovator of the Year Award in 2006, the Nanotech Briefs Nano 50 Innovator Award in 2006, the Alan Berman Research Publication Award, Department of the Navy in 2006, the Southern Chemist of the Year Award from the American Chemical Society in 2005, and The Honda Innovation Award for Nanocars in 2005. Tour’s paper on Nanocars was the most highly accessed journal article of all American Chemical Society articles in 2005, and it was listed by LiveScience as the second most influential paper in all of science in 2005. Tour has won several other national awards including the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award in Polymer Chemistry and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in Polymer Chemistry.

Dave Farina has a BA in chemistry from Carleton College and an MA in science education from California State University, Northridge. After years of teaching chemistry in the classroom, he turned his attention to science communication in 2015, focusing primarily on his YouTube channel Professor Dave Explains. Dave’s channel serves as a database of over a thousand tutorials in a wide variety of scientific fields. These educational videos have just enough detail to help struggling high school and undergraduate students while being visually engaging and general enough for any viewer who simply wants to learn a few things. Although Dave is passionate about helping students all over the world reach their academic and career goals, he is even more passionate about bestowing the public with basic science literacy. Anti-science sentiment has been growing in recent years, and it has demonstrated itself to be harmful to society. Dave is devoted to diagnosing and disarming common anti-science narratives and exposing pseudoscience wherever it crops up.



North Lot

Rice Boulevard between entrances 20 and 21.

Campus Parking Garage 

Underneath the Jones business school. 


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