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Broad Areas of Research


In this area we attack very diverse questions with a wide variety of approaches, experimental systems, and techniques. All of us study protein molecules, how they are born in the cell, how they reach their proper cellular compartment, and the wonderful things they can do once they get there.

Cell Biology

All living organisms are made of cells. We use a dazzling range of techniques including biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics (classical and molecular), recombinant DNA technology, imaging and biophysics to address questions concerning cellular function.


Understanding how undifferentiated cells adopt the appropriate cell fates during development to generate complex plants and animals is a major unsolved problem. Developmental biologists in our department utilize genetics, live imaging, and cell/molecular biology to address questions such as: cell fate determination, cell-cell communication, regulation of gene expression, axonal pathfinding, and synaptogenesis.


Microbiologists are by nature highly interdisciplinary and utilize a wide range of techniques to solve basic scientific questions. In this area of study, we utilize single cells as our model system to address fundamental biological topics.

Neurobiology & Animal Physiology

To produce a functioning animal, the activity of individual cells must be coordinated by neuronal and endocrine signaling. The research of members of this group focuses on the molecular mechanisms of synaptic and hormonal communication, on the signals used during development and regeneration to produce a functional nervous system, on the hormonal control of animal growth, and on the way that networks of neurons process sensory signals and generate simple behaviors.

Plant Molecular Biology

This area of focus is concerned with understanding the mechanisms that control plant processes. Using molecular, genetic, cellular, biochemical, and bioinformatics approaches, the investigators in this area explore fundamental questions in the development, metabolism, physiology, and interactions of plants. Research in plant molecular biology provides exciting opportunities for students to receive interdisciplinary training and to uncover new insights into plant-specific processes as well as basic biological processes.