Laboratory Overview

Research Interests

Our laboratory is focused on two primary research areas. The first focus involves the study of biosynthetic pathways for commodity fuels and high-value products from select bacteria and algae. Our second focus is on bacteria and cyanobacteria capable of biological nitrogen fixation and the role these species play in the biological nitrogen cycle. In relation to this, we are particularly interested in organisms that develop mutual or symbiotic relationships to exchange specific compounds. Members of our laboratory must have a strong biology and biochemistry background with an interest in applied and basic science. In recent years, we have been constructing various tools for genetic approaches in model bacteria and cyanobacteria systems, and are interested in biosynthetic approaches to produce compounds that could replace current fuels or have value as specialty chemicals.


Specific Research Projects

  • Wax ester production in specific model bacteria (Marinobacter aquaeolei VT8)
  • Triacylglyceride (TAG) production from algae and diatoms
  • Utilization of symbiotic relationships between bacteria and algae
  • The nitrogen cycle in relation to bioproduct yields
  • Evolutionary techniques related to novel protein design (directed evolution)

The 7th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts

06/19/2017 - Visit Matt at his poster this week at the International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts!  He will be presenting his work on a putative maltose excretion pathway in addition to introducing two newly sequenced algal genomes. 

Chicago SEED Conference

Brett and Carol had a great time visiting Chicago this week for the 2016 SEED Conference. 

Another Summer Concludes

September 2013 – We have just completed another productive summer of research work, and want to thank several undergraduates that have assisted in these efforts. Carol Knutson joined the laboratory and spent the summer learning molecular biology techniques and constructing a range of different DNA vectors for various projects. Jacob Timler split his time between our laboratory doing protein purifications and another laboratory on campus, while the remainder of our undergraduate students participated in internships at various locations.