Research Overview and Links
My research focuses on a bacterial chemical communication system in bacteria called "quorum sensing". Quorum sensing involves the synthesis, secretion and detection of small signaling molecules called autoinducers. Autoinducers tell the bacteria what their cell density is, and allow concerted changes in behavior that are advantageous at high cell densities. We design, synthesize and test drugs that block quorum sensing- our molecules essentially make the bacteria "deaf" to the autoinducer signal. These molecules can be very useful to understand how bacteria talk to each other using quorum sensing, and some bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Cholera) use quorum sensing to initaite pathogenic behavior, so blocking quorum sensing could very well have future use as a new type of antibiotic.
We are also interested in discovering enzymes that catalyze reactions that could have practical significance in environmental remediation. We are currently working on isolating enzymes that dehalogenate organic molecules and destroy cyanate, a pollutant.
For each project students often learn various techniques such as organic synthesis, basic molecular biology, protein expression/purification and enzymology.
Current research students:
Bryan Stefek, Biochemistry 2009; Leona Leung, Biochemistry 2009; Kyle Stevens, Biochemistry 2010.
Former research students:
- Keris KrennHrubec, Biochemistry 2008. Graduate student in Public health, University of Michigan.
- Colleen O'Loughlin, Biochemistry 2008. Graduate Student in Molecular Biology at Princeton.
- Mark Hedglin, Chemistry BS 2005. Graduate program in chemical biology, University of Michigan
- Mike Clarke, Biology BA 2005. Medical Student at the Univeristy of Minnesota.
- Mike MaCauley, Chemistry BS 2005. Medical student at Hershey Medical center
- Nicky Stephenson, Chemistry BS 2005, Graduate student at UW Madison
- Sarah Boyce, Chemistry BS 2003. Graduate student in chemistry and chemical biology, UCSF
- Chris Roessler, Chemistry BS 2004. Biological chemistry graduate student, University of Arizona
- Ryan King Chemistry BS 2006. Graduate student at Cornell University.
- Jen Thibert, Biology 2004. Student at the Albany College of Pharmacy.
- Lance Dolson, Biochemistry '06