Current research involves two unrelated projects, however both involve environmental concerns, and are being run in collaboration with Dr. Elisa Woolridge (Chemistry).
1)Engineering a redox-robust xylanase
In the production of white paper, paper companies are reliant on the use chlorine-containing chemicals (CCC), which are released from mills as environmentally harmful effluents. Two enzymes, laccase and xylanase, can be used to decrease the volume of CCC required in the production of white paper, but the enzymes are incapable of functioning in concert. We seek to engineer a version of xylanase that will function in the presence of laccase.
2)Proteomics of oil-degrading bacteria
Many bacteria are capable of metabolizing harmful components in petroleum product, called PAHs. However, the wide-spread use of these bacteria to remediate PAH contaminated soils and waters (bioremediation) is uncommon outside of the US military. In order to maximize the cost-effectiveness of bioremediation we seek to study how bacteria change their protein expression patterns (proteome)to PAHs, heavy metals, surfactants, and other influences expected to be found at a PAH contaminated site.