Mapping Fitness Landscapes

In the space of all possible sequences, fitness, or biochemical activity, defines a landscape in this space. Evolution is the process of exploring this landscape and climbing up peaks. We map fitness landscapes by evolving large populations of molecules in the lab. Massive sequencing gives us a first look into the structure of molecular fitness landscapes.

RNA in Complex Environments

Macromolecules can behave quite differently depending on their environment. Since RNAs could be the basis for an artificial cell, we study the effects of crowding and confinement on RNA activity, and conversely, the effects of RNAs on the biophysical properties of other molecular assemblies.

Unknown Phages

Phages have evolved numerous techniques to subvert bacterial biology and destroy bacterial cells, but most phages are unknown to us. We study phages from human environments to discover and design useful molecular tools.