We study the self-organization of very tiny things within tiny living things

We are a group of researchers driven by discovery, by the thrill of looking into a microscope and seeing something that no one has seen before; to be able to directly observe something, perturb it in all sorts of different ways, until we eventually completely understand the minimal machines that give rise to the temporal and spatial patterns and structures that cells can build.

Our lab combines the approaches from different fields (cell biology, biophysics, and microbiology) to understand self-organizing processes in bacteria and archaea: how just a handful of proteins within these organisms is able to: 1) Sculpt and read out different long-range shapes like rods, spheres, and spirals; 2) How filamentous proteins exert the force to divide these highly pressured bacteria in half; 3) How enzymes in the cell wall are regulated by stress; and 4) How the cell coordinates the rates of all the internal biosynthetic process so they run in time with each other. We take advantage of the fact that these essential processes are, in contrast to eukaryotes, conducted by only a small number of proteins in bacteria and archaea.

We use a combination of high-resolution microscopy, single molecule tracking, genetics, and computational approaches to observe the internal organization and dynamics within these tiny bacterial and archaeal cells. With these tools, we work to mechanistically dissect how these minimal self-organizing machines function to conduct different cellular tasks. By understanding these essential processes, we hope to uncover new targets for antibiotics.