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Current Research

Research in the Hegg lab focuses on elucidating how microbes perform environmentally important reactions. In particular, we are studying various enzymes critical to the global nitrogen cycle, including an enzyme that converts the environmental contaminant nitrite into ammonia as well as enzymes that produce the potent greenhouse gas N2O. We are also studying how microbes break down biomass to release the sugars and lignin from the plant cell wall, and how these structural components of the plant cell wall can be used to form biofuels and bioproducts. Ultimately, we are interested in applying the knowledge gained from these studies to address real-world problems.  Students in the Hegg lab become familiar with a broad number of biochemical and biophysical techniques and principles including protein expression, purification, spectroscopy, enzyme kinetics, and enzyme mechanisms.

There are currently six major projects in the Hegg Lab.

  1. Cytochrome c nitrite reductase: Converting an environmental contaminant into fertilizer. MORE
  2. Identifying the enzymatic mechanism of N2O biosynthesis, a potent greenhouse gas. MORE
  3. Engineering lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) to improve sugar digestibility.  MORE
  4. Converting Biomass into renewable fuels and chemicals. MORE
  5. Biomimetic cleavage of lignin for the production of value-added biofuels and chemicals. MORE
  6. Elucidating the biosynthesis, transport, and regulation of heme A. MORE