Some current research interests in the lab:

1. Plant Synthetic Biology

Plants are essential to our societal infrastructure as the starting point for our food, raw material, and bioenergy economies. Given the scale and utility of agriculture, plants offer a unique platform to address many imminent challenges facing society. Our group focuses on developing the foundational knowledge and technologies needed to innovate, deploy, and engineer new traits into plants using synthetic biology approaches. At the Joint BioEnergy Institute, our team is interested in manipulating plant metabolism in order to optimize plant development and biomass characteristics for sustainable energy-crop and bioenergy production. In order to efficiently engineer plants, tools and techniques will be developed to expedite and implement biotechnological applications in agriculturally relevant crops. Beyond biotechnological applications, these approaches will also be utilized to provide more sophisticated tools to improve our basic understanding of plant systems.​

2. Plant metabolic biochemistry and engineering

Plants have evolved a multitude of metabolic pathways, enabling the production of a wealth of chemically diverse compounds. Many of these pathways are responsible for various traits relevant to human health and agricultural sustainability. Our group is interested in understanding core principles of plant metabolism for the ultimate goal of metabolic engineering for specific applications.

3. Evolution of photosynthesis and carbon fixation

Photosynthesis enables life to generate energy from sunlight and is the major driver of global primary productivity; however, we know very little about its origins. Our group leverages an interdisciplinary approach on utilizing different techniques, including phylogenetics, biochemistry, metagenomics and synthetic biology to investigate the evolution of photosynthesis. The ultimate goal is to expand our understanding of how early microbial metabolisms fundamentally altered the trajectory of our planet.