Bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, are the most abundant abundant living entity on the planet. Their ability to kill their hosts, affect their behavior, and carry or transfer genetic material to their hosts underlies their enormous impact on evolution and ecology. Our phage hunters program is dedicated to the isolation and characterization of novel bacteriophages that infect Bacillus and Enterobacteriacae hosts. My lab is currently focused on phages that infect Erwinia amylovora, a member of the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria and relative to many human pathogens including E. coli, Salmonella and Yersinia. Erwinia itself is an agriculture pest, the causitive agent of Fire Blight. The isolation, characterization and genomic comparison of our Erwinia phages will aid in understanding the overall diversity of phages, the molecular function and evolution of phages, and the evolution of the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria (including pathogenic strains). In addition, we are currently conducting trials for the phage therapy treatment of Fire Blight.  

Our lab focuses on two main research projects. The first is the study of glucose  allocation in eukaryotic cells and the second is an extension of our BYU Phage Hunters program (


Cells have evolved complex mechanisms that allow them to sense their nutritional status and regulate cellular metabolism appropriately. A dysfunction in metabolic regulation is the root of a variety of diseases. Our lab utilizes Saccharomyces cerevisiae to study how cells regulate glucose allocation in response to the availability of nutrients and other factors affecting growth. The focus of our studies is PAS kinase, a highly conserved sensory protein kinase that regulates glucose homeostasis and is linked to the development of Maturity Onset Diabetes (MODY).  PAS kinase has both a sensory and a serine/threonine kinase domain. The sensory component consists of a PAS domain that may bind small molecule effecters and it regulates the serine/threonine protein kinase domain. Our goal is to further characterize the role PAS kinase plays in metabolic regulation by identifying specific mechanisms involved in its activation and function, including its downstream targets. Since the proteins and pathways of central metabolism are often conserved our findings may aid in understanding metabolic regulation in higher organisms.

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