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The objective of our group is to elucidate and manipulate the functions of proteins. Our biochemical research is focused on: (i) investigating if a protein’s mutational tolerance reports on its functionally important motions, (ii) using structure-guided protein recombination to understand sequence-structure-function relationships within protein complexes, and (iii) understanding the regulation of molecular chaperones that participate in Fe-S cluster biogenesis. Our synthetic biology research is focused on: (iv) developing new methods for laboratory evolution that accelerate our ability to overcome component limitations, (v) building new enzyme technologies for increasing spatial and temporal control over metabolic labeling, and (vi) establishing reporters for biosensing in hard-to-image conditions, e.g., animals, biochars, and soils. Our expertise in biochemistry and biomolecular engineering puts us in a unique position to study living systems, as we take advantage of classical methods for biochemical inquiry and develop and apply novel biotechnologies to support these lines of research. Our philosophy is that transformative advances occur when biochemical studies are extended to conditions that reflect those within living cells and the environment, and important synthetic biology advances occur when experimental observations can be anticipated using physical models.

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