Scott M. Coyle

Photo of Scott M. Coyle
Assistant Professor
B.A., University of California Berkeley
Ph.D., University of California San Francisco
Postdoctoral, Stanford University
Email: smcoyle@wisc.edu

Understanding and engineering microscale molecular and cellular machines

Cells are the greatest known molecular engineers, able to build extraordinary microscale mechanical devices and information processing systems that greatly surpass our own capabilities and know-how. How complex cellular behaviors and functions emerge from the organization and control of the cell’s macromolecular hardware is a fundamental question that lies at the interface between systems biology, cell biology and biochemistry. The focus of our research group is to explore how cellular behavior is built up from a toolbox of modular molecular components and activities, and to apply this knowledge to explore new frontiers in synthetic biology and the engineering of novel in vitro biochemical systems.

Our approach is premised on a back and forth between discovery-oriented systems biology that mines the diversity of the natural world for guiding principles into how behaviors are encoded by cells; synthetic biology that expands this knowledge into motifs and modules with broad, transferable utility; and a molecular machine shop in which we assemble microscale molecular systems from biochemical components in vitro to clarify our understanding from the bottom-up to provide a path forward towards engineering microscale machines and molecular robots.
 

Research image of how cells build microscale machines