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Dr. Burnap's Lab

We research the oxygenic photosynthetic mechanism in cyanobacteria. We have projects looking into the catalytic capabilities of specific photosynthetic enzymes and projects examining the adaptive mechanisms that enable cyanobacteria to thrive and survive diverse environments. The projects address basic scientific questions as well as applied questions relevant to solar energy, green chemical production and CO2 mitigation. Hypotheses are addressed using advanced molecular genetic and bioinformatic tools to reprogram the DNA sequences encoding specific molecules and pathways. To evaluate the hypothesized changes due to the genetic reprogramming, we utilize a variety of biochemical and biophysical to probe the targeted molecules and pathways.

Oxygenic Photosynthesis: Mechanisms and Opportunities

Our lab uses molecular genetic tools to change the DNA of cells and thereby re-program the enzymatic machinery that converts light energy into usable cellular energy. This strategy allows the test of specific hypotheses using an array of techniques drawing from multiple disciplines, including molecular genetics (targeted gene modification), biochemistry (affinity purification of membrane protein complexes, mass spectrometry) and biophysics (electrochemistry and a variety of spectroscopies including FTIR).


This is fundamental  research that advances technology and has applications ranging from development of sustainable energy and agriculture and CO2 mitigation strategies.

Graphic of the Calvin Cycle

Research Opportunities

Postdoctoral Researcher

An NSF-supported postdoctoral position is available immediately to study the assembly and function of the photosystem II (PSII) reaction center complex.

Graduate Research

Would you like study an important scientific problem while also learning cutting-edge technical expertise  ? We have at least one open research position for an independent and hard-working graduate student. This includes Research Assistance and tuition waiver support and would be funded as part of our US Department of Energy project investigating CO2 uptake mechanisms.  It will be a great opportunity of make contributions in the the growing areas of biotechology and sustainability, while learning advanced molecular genetic, biochemical, and biophysical skills. Start Spring 2021 or Fall 2021.

Undergraduate Research

Motivated? Want to gain research experience? We have a variety of projects and activities that may interest you.

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