Antony Dean

Antony Dean

ANTONY M. DEAN

Professor
Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior

PhD, Washington University St. Louis, 1987

deanx024@umn.edu
deanlab.umn.edu

Research Interests

Molecular evolution, enzymology; experiments with bacterial enzymes known collectively as isopropylmalate dehydrogenase (IDH).

Bio

Antony Dean is interested in discerning the effects of natural selection on evolution at the molecular level. The approach used by the Dean lab places a strong emphasis on the relations between protein structure and protein function in an effort to understand the mechanistic basis of natural selection. Specifically, the Dean lab utilizes two metabolic systems in Escherichia coli as models of molecular evolution: the lactose operon and the isocitrate dehydrogenase.

 

Mark Distefano

Mark Distefano

MARK DISTEFANO

Professor
Department of Chemistry

PhD, Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989

diste001@umn.edu
distefano.chem.umn.edu

Research Interests

Molecular recognition and catalysis in the context of proteins, and the process of protein prenylation, a key modification that occurs on proteins involved in cellular signaling.

Bio

In his research, Mark Distefano uses a combination of organic synthesis, protein purification, enzymology and biophysical techniques. Primarily, the Distefano group utilizes organic chemistry to provide insight into mechanism and function in biological systems. Several projects are currently being investigated including (1) mechanism and function of protein prenylation (2) rubber biosynthesis (3) illudin biosynthesis (4) protein-based catalyst design and (5) development of methods for selective protein modification.

Mikael Elias

Mikael Elias

MIKAEL ELIAS

Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics

PhD, Aix-Marseille University France, 2009

mhelias@umn.edu
eliaslab.org

Research Interests

Microbial enzymes and systems that have the potential to address industrial needs or may be useful for bio-remediation, specifically, the cellular phosphate uptake mechanism.

Bio

In his research, Mikael Elias seeks to decipher the mechanisms by which biological macromolecules evolve, to understand the molecular basis of their biological functions, and to develop new methods for their engineering. Long-term, Mikael is interested in developing soft, ecological solutions to current or emerging societal issues. The current methods used in the Elias Lab are spanning from molecular biology and microbiology, to protein engineering, structural biology and bioinformatics.

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Kathryn Fixen

Kathryn Fixen

KATHRYN FIXEN

Assistant Professor
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

PhD, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 2009

kfixen@umn.edu
cbs.umn.edu/contacts/kathryn-fixen
fixenlab.com

Research Interests

Redox regulation of metabolism in an anoxygenic phototroph; mechanisms by which redox status can modulate central metabolism and product formation without the complication of reactive oxygen species.

Bio

In her work, Katie Fixen aims to find a reliable source of alternative energy that could reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Her lab’s research focuses on Rhodopseudomonas palustris (R. pal), a metabolically-versatile photosynthetic bacterium, hoping to develop a more efficient way to extract energy from the sun and convert it into biofuel energy. Beyond her research, Katie seeks to cultivate interest in science with preteens, especially girls and minorities, ultimately hoping to improve young people’s engagement with and understanding of science.

Mike Freeman

Mike Freeman

MICHAEL F. FREEMAN

Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics

PhD, Biology, Johns Hopkins University, 2008

mffreema@umn.edu
freemanlab.umn.edu 

Research Interests

Natural product biosynthesis, microbial genetics, targeted metagenomics; discovery and heterologous expression of pathways and genes involved in the biosynthesis of metabolites from unique microbial sources, investigation of peptide-based metabolites and pathways invoking radical-mediated chemistry.

Bio

Michael Freeman is interested in how small molecules known as natural products are made in the environment. His lab is especially interested in natural products produced by uncultivated microbial ‘dark matter’ and those produced by unconventional bacterial and fungal sources. Broad-scale, Mike’s research aims to tackle the exponentially expanding genomic universe for the discovery of new enzymology and therapeutics.

Jeff Gralnick

Jeff Gralnick

JEFFREY A. GRALNICK

Professor
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

PhD, Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin Madison, 2003

gralnick@umn.edu
cbs.umn.edu/gralnick-lab/home

Research Interests

Microbial physiology, synthetic biology, geomicrobiology; developing strains, tools and techniques for increasing the robustness of using Shewanella for metabolic engineering and downstream applications in bioenergy (microbial fuel cells), bioremediation, and biocatalysis.

Bio

In his research, Jeff Gralnick strives to integrate both classical and modern molecular approaches to understand how bacteria influence our planet and how they can be engineered for applications in bioremediation, bioenergy and biocatalysis. His lab uses Shewanella bacteria to research electron shuttling with flavins and synthetic biology in environmental bacteria. Jeff has also explored microbes throughout Minnesota, namely in the Soudan Iron Mine in northern Minnesota and around Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi.