Laboratory Overview

Paramedium bursaria video clip

Research Interests

Our laboratory is currently focused on four 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 (BNF) and the role these species play in the biological nitrogen cycle. Our third focus is related to the production of extracellular fermentable sugars from phototrophs (algae) and our final focus is related to organisms that are capable of biodegrading commodity plastics and other polymers in the environment.

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 are interested in biosynthetic approaches to produce compounds that could replace current fuels or have value as specialty chemicals.

Specific Research Projects

  • Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) for sustainable solutions to agriculture and aquaculture
  • Extracellular sugar production by model green algae
  • Wax ester production in the model bacterium Marinobacter aquaeolei¬†VT8
  • Triacylglyceride (TAG) production from alkaline diatoms
  • Directed evolution approaches for novel protein design and pathway engineering
  • Identification of microbes capable of biodegrading polyethylene and polystyrene


New Publication

08/10/2022 - 19:11

Our paper "Canvasing the Substrate-Binding Pockets of the Wax Ester Synthase" is now published in Biochemistry.

New Publication

08/10/2022 - 18:58

Our paper "Rnf1 is the primary electron source to nitrogenase in a high-ammonium-accumulating strain of Azotobacter vinelandii" is now published in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Natalia successfully defends her dissertation

08/10/2022 - 18:54

Congratulations to Natalia Calixto Mancipe for successfully defending her PhD dissertation titled "Discerning the Molecular Toolkit of Microalgae and Bacteria through Omic Approaches". Natalia published two first-author papers, with additional manuscripts in preparation. Congratulations Natalia.

Carolann successfully defends her dissertation

08/10/2022 - 18:46

Carolann Knutson successfully defended her dissertation titled "The genetic basis of nitrogen fixation and carbon metabolism in Azotobacter vinelandii." Congratulations to Carol. Carol has been a member of the laboratory as an undergraduate, and Masters student, and now has completed a PhD. She has twelve publications from the laboratory, with several additional manuscripts that should come out of her dissertation work.