- Post-Doctoral Training, Michigan State University, 2018
- Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of North Texas, 2013
- B.Sc. Biochemistry, The University of Texas at Austin, 2008
Genetic Engineering of Plant Lipid Metabolism: Plant lipids (oils) are essential to plant growth and development, human health and nutrition, and industrial feedstocks (e.g. biofuels, lubricants). Our research aims to use genetic engineering to design high-value plant oils. Many of these oils include plant-derived “unusual” fatty acids that have unique chemical properties. This work targets fundamental pathways using the model Arabidopsis as well applied systems such as the crops cotton, canola, and camelina. Students working on these projects primarily learn and utilize genetic engineering, molecular biology, and biochemical techniques.
Investigation of Plant Redox Processes in Photosynthetic Membranes: There are numerous processes in plants (and humans for that matter) that rely on the balanced flow and utilization of electrons. This includes fundamental processes such as how plants harness the power of sunlight to make biomolecules, including lipids. However, at times the flow of electrons becomes unbalanced resulting in sick plants (and cancer/disease in humans). Understanding these processes will be important to engineer healthier plants in response to abiotic stress (e.g. high temperatures, drought, etc.). Students working on these projects primarily learn and utilize biochemistry, plant physiology, and genetics techniques.
Plant Genomics and Metabolomics: Big data to me is like an endless, fascinating puzzle. We are at the point where it is much “easier” to acquire new raw datasets than to convert this data into targeted conclusions on fundamental pathways, which can ultimately inform metabolic engineering strategies. In our lab we are currently focusing on analyzing over 100+ available plant genomes spanning model and crop systems. We are designing algorithms to understand protein structure/function changes through sequence conservation and structural modeling. Students working on these projects primarily learn and utilize bioinformatics, programming, and data visualization techniques.
Research Training and Improving Diversity in STEM: I have been blessed with many opportunities throughout my career. Our lab strives to pay-it-forward by providing research opportunities from undergraduates to graduates to postdocs with an emphasis on underrepresented groups in STEM. I offer a range of research training opportunities for students that just want to give research a try to more rigorous, targeted training plans that prepare students for competitive research- and/or medical-based careers.