Description: Description:, Addy

Born: 1945

B.Sc. (First Class Hons): 1966;   Ph.D.: 1970, University of Sydney, Australia.

Faculty member Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, 1973; Emeritus Professor, 2013.        

ARC Professorial Fellow, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 1992-1994.

Visiting Professor, NYU Shanghai, 2014-2016.






Research Interests:


Theoretical and Physical Organic Chemistry

Application of qualitative and quantitative molecular orbital and valence bond theories to problems of organic reactivity. The main goal: to develop new approaches to understanding organic reactivity. Emphasis is placed on the modeling of barrier formation by use of the Curve-Crossing Model. With an understanding of those factors that govern barrier heights, the model can be applied to a range of organic reactions to answer questions such as: why are some reactions fast while others are slow; why are some reactions concerted, while others proceed through an intermediate; what causes a mechanistic change to occur in a family of reactions? The relationship between the model and existing approaches to problems of organic reactivity (Marcus theory, potential energy surface models, etc.) are investigated.


Bridging between Chemistry and Biology. Seeking the Roots of Darwinian Theory in Chemistry.

Chemistry and biology are closely related sciences yet the chemistry-biology interface remains highly problematic. Science is confident in the belief that chemistry became biology, but how did such an extraordinary transition come about? Our research program involves the development of a kinetic theory of replicating systems that will attempt to help bridge the animate-inanimate gap. In earlier work we have demonstrated that there are two distinct kinds of stability in nature – thermodynamic stability associated with "regular" chemical systems, and dynamic kinetic stability (DKS), associated with replicating systems. We propose building on those earlier ideas in order to help uncover the physicochemical principles that were responsible for the emergence of life, the relationship between emergence and evolution, and most generally, to uncover the connection between the two general laws of change in the universe, Darwinian natural selection and Boltzmann’s statistical interpretation of the Second Law.



Pross, A. Theoretical and Physical Principles of Organic Reactivity,  Wiley, New York, September, 1995.

Pross, A. What is Life? How Chemistry becomes Biology, Oxford UP, September 2012, 2nd Ed. 2016.



Book reviews for “What is life?”

Trends in evolutionary biology:

Chemical & Engineering News

Microbe Magazine:

Atheist Radio Interview on: What is life? How Chemistry becomes Biology

The Biologist

Interview on the Chemistry-Biology interface (SUNY ESF TV)


Oxford University Press Youtube on What is life?


OOL debate with George Whitesides, ICPOC 23, UNSW, Sydney, July 2016.


Essays and Blog Posts on assorted Life issues: life_b_4992980.html?utm_hp_ref=science


Publications since 2003

Pross, A. The driving force for life’s emergence. Kinetic and thermodynamic considerations,  J. theor. Biol. 220, 393-406 (2003). (PDF-1)

Coote, M.L. Pross, A., and Radom , L. On the Variable Trends in R–X Bond Dissociation Energies (R = Me, Et, iso-Prtert-Bu) Organic Letters, 24, 4689-4692 (2003).

Pross, A. and Khodorkovsky, V. Extending the concept of kinetic stability: Toward a paradigm for life, J. Phys. Org. Chem. 17, 312-316 (2004). (PDF-2)

Pross, A. Causation and the origin of life. Metabolism or replication first? Origins Life Evol. Bios. 34, 307-321 (2004). (PDF-3)

Pross, A. On the emergence of biological complexity: Life as a kinetic state of matter. Origins Life Evol. Bios. 35, 151-166 (2005). (PDF-4)

Pross, A. On the chemical nature and origin of teleonomyOrigins Life Evol. Bios. 35, 383-394 (2005). (PDF-5)

Coote, M.L.,  Pross, A., and Radom , L. Understanding alkyl substituent effects in R–O bond dissociation reactions in open- and closed-shell systems, Chapter in Fundamental World of Quantum Chemistry: A Tribute to the Memory of Per-Olov Lowdin, Vol. 3, Eds: E.J. Brandas and E.S. Kryachko, Kluwer, Dordrecht, 2004.  

Pross, A. Stability in Chemistry and Biology. Life as a Kinetic State of Matter. Pure Appl. Chem. 77, 1905-1921 (2005). (PDF-6)

Pross, A. How Can a Chemical System act Purposefully? Bridging between Life and Non-life. J. Phys. Org. Chem21, 724-728 (2008). (PDF-7)

Pross, A. Seeking the chemical roots of Darwinism: Bridging between chemistry and biology, Chem. Eur. J. 15, 8374-8381 (2009). (PDF-8)

Wagner, N., Pross, A., Tannenbaum, E., Selection advantage of metabolic over non-metabolic replicators: A kinetic analysis, BioSystems 99, 126 - 129 (2010). (PDF-9).

Pross, A. Open Questions on the Origin of Life: Commentary on "Plausibility of RNA World" Origins Life Evol. Bios. 40, 434-437 (2010).

Pross A. Open Questions on the Origin of Life: Commentary on "Life as a Unity or Confederacy" Origins Life Evol. Bios. 40, 478-479 (2010).

Wagner, N., Pross, A. The Nature of Stability in Replicating Systems. Entropy 13, 518-527 (2011). (PDF-10)

Pross, A. Toward a general theory of evolution: Extending Darwinian theory to inanimate matter. J. Systems Chem. 2, 1 (2011). (PDF-11)

Pross A. How does biology emerge from chemistry? Origins Life Evol. Bios. 42, 433-444 (2012).

Pross A, Pascal R. The Origin of Life: what we know, what we can know and what we will never know. Open Biol. 3, 120190 (2013).

A. Pross, Dynamic Kinetic Stability as a Conceptual Bridge Linking Chemistry to Biology Current Organic Chemistry, Special issue on “Prebiotic Chemistry”. 17, 1702-3 (2013).

A. Pross, The evolutionary origin of biological function and complexity, J. Mol. Evol76, 185-191 (2013).

R. Pascal, A. Pross, and J.D. Sutherland, Towards an evolutionary theory of the origin of life based on kinetics and thermodynamics. Open Biol 3: 130156 (2013)

R. Pascal, A. Pross The nature and mathematical basis for material stability in the chemical and biological worldsJ. Systems Chem. 5, 3 (2014).

R. Pascal and A. Pross, Stability and its manifestation in the chemical and biological worlds, Chem. Comm. 51, 16160 (2015).

A.Pross, Physical Organic Chemistry and the Origin of Life Problem: A Personal Perspective, Isr. J. Chem. 56, 83 (2016).

R. Pascal and A. Pross, The logic of life, Origins Life Evol. Bios.  46, 507-513 (2016).

R. Pascal and A. Pross, A Roadmap toward Synthetic Protolife, Syn. Letts. 27, A-F (2016); DOI: 10.1055/s-0036-1589403.