Synthetic Biology in Environmental Science

Synthetic Biology is an emerging field that can make a big difference in environmental science by replacing petroleum-based or chemically synthesized products with “green biopolymers,” introducing novel strategies for remediation and waste cleanup, enabling greener agriculture, and aiding in the preservation of species biodiversity.

Digital Signatures in DNA

Biology is becoming increasingly digitized. Researchers like us use computers to analyze DNA, operate lab equipment and store genetic information. Soon, DNA might be used to store digital information as well. Our lab at Colorado State University is exploring how cybersecurity measures such as digital signatures can be applied to DNA

Are GMO’s Natural?

If you’ve ever been outside, you’ve probably noticed that some tree trunks and plant roots have weird looking tumor-like growths. In this video, I explain what causes these tumors, and how scientists have borrowed techniques from this natural process to add genes to plants. It is an educational video that cuts through the “are GMOs good or bad” debate to simply explain how they’re actually made. Hint: there are no syringes.

Where do farmer’s get their seeds?

Have you ever wondered where farmers get their seeds? Don’t they just save and reuse seeds from the previous crop? This video explains what “hybrid” seeds are and the genetic basis for why farmers buy hybrid seeds year after year instead of harvesting the seeds from a hybrid crop and replanting them.

That junk in your genes

My research at UC Davis focused on sequences once thought to be “junk DNA”, in this video, I describe my thesis in 3 minutes for an audience of museum-goers at the 2017 Science Talk Northwest conference in Portland.

A role for introns in plant genetic engineering

As mentioned in the video above, introns can play surprising roles in gene expression. The effects of introns include increasing mRNA accumulation, changing spatial expression, and altering the location of the transcription start site, even in the absence of a proximal promoter sequences. This video provides a brief summary of much of the results from my dissertation research as presented at the 2016 Plant Genome Engineering Symposium at UC Berkley.

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