Bacterial cell biology has seen a renaissance in the past several years that has been spurred in part by advances in imaging techniques. Major advances in fluorescent microscopy, cryo-electron microscopy (2-D) and cryo-electron tomography (3-D) have provided new insight into bacterial ultrastructures that accomplish fundamental processes, such as cell growth and movement. Advances in imaging are also providing evidence that these cellular systems and assemblies are not only highly complex, but generally function in concert to accomplish cellular goals.
The research in our laboratory focuses on elucidating the structure and function of protein complexes involved in complex biological processes. We are particularly interested in the macromolecular assemblies that govern bacterial cell division, cell-to-cell interaction, biofilm formation, motility and chemotaxis. Moreover, with the emergence of a growing number of multi-drug resistant strains of bacteria there is a pressing need to identify new drug targets. Accordingly, these essential bacterial processes provide a number of exciting candidates. My research group is taking a multidisciplinary approach to answer fundamental questions related to these essential cellular processes. By combining cryo-electron microscopy and tomography with biochemical, biophysical, molecular and cellular techniques, our goal is to identify potential therapeutics that can target a broad spectrum of disease-causing bacteria. We also seek to develop novel imaging techniques, including correlative methods using fluorescent and cryo-electron microscopy. We hope that the imaging methods we develop in this research program will transcend bacterial studies and significantly impact applications in diverse biological fields, thus leading to advances in structural biology, nanotechnology, ecology and medicine, among others.
We are currently accepting graduate students who share the lab's vision for understanding bacterial processes and developing cutting-edge imaging methods. Potential students with interests in cellular imaging and electron microscopy, microbiology, molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, and their applications to medically and environmentally relevant problems are encouraged to contact us.