The group’s work can benefit the agricultural, food, fuel, pharmaceutical, and plastics industries. The group’s primary interest is developing biological systems that can produce agents that are more precise, efficient, and environmentally friendly than petroleum-based products. These include chemical sensors based on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), microbial production of alkaloids, and microbial production of fuels and commodity chemicals.
- Green alternatives to petroleum fuels and chemicals: GPCR-based biosensors speed up the screening of chemical-producing microbes, permitting the engineering of strains at industrially relevant yields.
- Faster routes to anticancer, antimicrobial, and analgesic agents: Plant alkaloids are medicinally promising but difficult to synthesize and separate from impurities. Yeast-based synthesis could accelerate production of alkaloid-derived drugs.
- Microbial synthesis of fuels and chemicals: The lab has engineered microbes to produce a biosynthetic alternative to the high energy density fuel JP10.
- Industrial pathways to fuels, pharmaceuticals, and food ingredients: The natural enzyme pterin can be used to modify lignin-based aromatic monomers and could provide substantial high-value intermediates for the energy-efficient production of aromatic-based feedstocks.
- Protein engineering
- Metabolic engineering
- Synthetic biology
- Synthetic chemistry
- Affiliated Investigator, National Science Foundation Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center
- Editorial Board Member, Synthetic Biology; Microbial Cell Factories; and Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology journals