Synthetic Biology at the Cell-Material Interface: from Redox Biology to Environmental Science. The research in our lab draws on concepts, principles, and methods from science and engineering to elucidate and manipulate the functions of proteins and cells. Our expertise in biochemistry and protein engineering allows us to study living systems by taking advantage of classical methods for biochemical inquiry and developing and applying novel biotechnologies to support these investigations. Research projects fall into two major areas. Half of the group uses redox synthetic biology to study the electron transfer mediated by small protein electron carriers. These studies are motivated by our interest in understanding what controls the proportion of electrons that are transferred between different metabolic pathways with a long-term goal of deriving maps for electron flux in cells. We are working to build synthetic electron transfer pathways and cell-electronic devices (bioelectronics) to assist with fundamental studies and enable the creation of useful new technologies. The other half of the group is focused on environmental synthetic biology. The objective of this research is to create cellular programs that can be used in soil incubation studies to study how land use strategies and changes in a soil matrix (e.g., biochar amendment) influence dynamic behaviors such as greenhouse gas production and the development of plant-microbe symbiosis. To facilitate studies in soils, we are developing new outputs for genetic circuits (gas reporters) that provide information on dynamic cellular processes in hard-to-image settings. 


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