Research in my laboratory focuses on microbial metabolism as well as on engineering enzyme and microbial industrial biocatalysts for applications in biochemical and biomaterial production. We are studying the metabolism of the rumen bacterium Actinobacillus succinogenes, with the goal of engineering it for homosuccinate fermentation. We are also studying the metabolism of mature heterocysts in the filamentous, N2-fixing cyanobacterium Anabaena variabilis to determine which metabolic pathways produce the reducing equivalents needed for N2 fixation and H2 production.
Our research on enzyme biocatalysts centers primarily on enzymes from thermophiles and hyperthermophiles. With their high thermostability and solvent tolerance, these enzymes are attractive candidates for industrial processes, which typically require catalysts that are robust, highly active, and have high chemical yields. These enzymes are also ideal model proteins to study the mechanisms underlying protein thermostability.