Professor Biological Sciences. Associate Vice President for Research CoS
We focus on metalloenzymes because of their special abilities to catalyze difficult reactions. One project targets enzymes involved in the biodegradation of aromatic compounds, a process that has potential applications in the bioremediation of many deleterious pollutants. For example, we study several enzymes from a bacterial pathway that has a partially developed ability to degrade polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs. These notorious, man-made chemicals have the potential to promote cancer and adversely affect neural development. They also contaminate the soils, rivers, and lakes of Indiana and other manufacturing states, as well as many other locations throughout the world. By analyzing the structure and function of enzymes that can partially degrade PCBs we contribute to an international effort to develop a safe process that can be used to eliminate PCBs from storage sites and the environment. In addition, some of the enzymes we study have applications in biotechnology, such as in the synthesis of drugs and other chemicals. Understanding how the enzymes work also advances these applications.