Our group brings the tools of systems biology to bear on the grand challenges of sustainability. My lab members and I are passionate about trying to understand the cellular highways of energy and carbon transformations known as central carbon metabolism in quantitative terms. We employ a combination of computational and experimental synthetic biology tools.
A major interest for us is carbon fixation, the biological process which incorporates carbon dioxide (CO2) into organic compounds. In the process of using sunlight to create biomass, plants absorb 10 fold more CO2 from the atmosphere than is emitted by the global human population. In performing this task in agriculture, plants use over 70% of the fresh water utilized by humanity and the majority of cultivatable land resources on earth. These figures point to the central role that carbon fixation plays in our global ecological footprint.
Our research efforts are the culmination of three directions:
(1) Understanding the structure and logic of central carbon and energy metabolism in quantitative terms
(2) Synthetic metabolic pathways for carbon fixation
(3) Novel tools facilitating accurate, accessible and collaborative quantitative cell biology