Fusing techniques from the biological and physical sciences with engineering
This collage depicts five current areas of fundamental and applied research in our lab, which are summarized below.
Mechanisms that bacteria use to control the spatial and temporal organization of biomolecules in cells
The cartoon on the far left depicts biomolecular organization in a section of a bacterial cell (image courtesy of David S. Goodsell, SRI); the images on the bottom illustrate one area we study, in which cell wall curvature and strain on the membrane influences lipid and protein organization. We are actively building a connection between this area of bacterial cell biology and mitochondrial biochemistry.
Global assembly of the bacterial cell wall
We are identifying proteins that play a role in controlling the mechanical properties of the cell wall, with an emphasis on peptidoglycan assembly, remodeling, and regulation. As a well established target for antibiotics, this research develops an understanding of the biochemistry of cell wall biogenesis and characterizes new targets for antimicrobial agents.
Bacterial adaptation and fitness in fluctuating environments
We are particularly interested in community-wide behavior in bacterial swarms (cartoon on right) and biofilms (cartoon on far right) and their 'complex' behavior. Uncovering mechanisms that regulate this behavior has applications to a range of areas, including: human health, industry, and food security.
To study questions in bacterial cell biology, we develop and apply small molecules to gain insight into physiological mechanisms. As many of the proteins and processes we study are essential to bacteria, some of the small molecule inhibitors are promising leads for antibiotic development. The cartoon on the left depicts three classes of inhibitors we are actively developing.
To connect fundamental research to real-world problems, we look for opportunities to apply our research and solve unmet capabilities. This mindset has led us in several directions centered upon clinical microbiology, including point-of-need detection of pathogens in resource-poor settings (device at left).
6424A HF DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Building
440 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706-1544
Office: (608) 890-1342
Lab: Rm 6424 (608) 263-2636