Much of my research is focused on the development of new algorithms and methods for addressing problems in structural biology. In collaboration with researchers from Los Alamos National Lab, Duke University and Cambridge University we are developing a new software system with NIH Program Project funding, called PHENIX, for the automated solution of macromolecular structures using crystallographic methods. With other NIH funding we are also pursuing projects that expand the scope of PHENIX to include the analysis of neutron diffraction data, and single particle cryo-EM reconstruction methods.
As Head of the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology I oversee the development, maintenance and operation of five synchrotron beamlines for macromolecular crystallographic data collection. We are constantly upgrading the facilities to provide researchers with the best tools for data collection and structure solution. An area of particular interest to me is the structural study of large macromolecular machines combining multiple experimental and computational methods.
Global warming has become a major world issue and carbon dioxide gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are a significant contributor to the problem. The need to develop carbon-neutral and renewable sources of energy has become a priority. The conversion of cellulosic (plant) material to fuels such as ethanol has the potential to provide a significant fraction of fuel in the future. As part of the Joint Bioenergy Institute I am developing new technologies to improve the conversion of biomass to fuels. As part of the Energy Biosciences Institute I am collaborating with others to develop new methods for the chemical imaging of plant call wall material.
In the News
Using the exceptionally bright and powerful x-ray beams of the Advanced Light Source, Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered a critical control element within chaperonin, the protein complex responsible for the correct folding of other proteins.