Plants synthesize an immense number of bioactive small molecules that help them to thrive in hostile environments. These molecules serve a multitude of functions for the plant, such as defense against pests and pathogens, nutrient acquisition, and communication with beneficial organisms.
Much of this plant chemistry is also critical for humanity, as we use plant-derived molecules for numerous purposes, including use as medicines, pesticides, fragrances, and research tools to understand our own biology.
My lab focuses on understanding the enzymes and chemical transformations that plants use to achieve their impressive diversity of bioactive small molecules.
Additionally, we seek to expand our knowledge of how plants use small molecules to influence their environment and human health through targeting specific cellular processes in other organisms.
My research lies at the intersection of biology, chemistry, engineering, and synthetic biology, and major projects in the lab will focus in the following areas:
1) biochemical and evolutionary characterization of neofunctionalized metabolic enzymes
2) discovery and engineering of complete biosynthetic pathways for medicinal compounds
3) untargeted approaches for identifying critical metabolite-protein interactions