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Department of Biological Sciences
The major research focus of our laboratory is related to the biophysics of photosynthetic light conversion.
The majority of photosynthetic pigments (chlorophylls, phycobilins and carotenoids) perform a light-harvesting function, absorbing light and transferring energy with very high efficiency to the reaction centers where this energy is utilized. Photosynthetic organisms in natural environments are challenged by exposure to changing light intensities and stress conditions.
The balance point between efficient light harvesting and potential photodamage is fine and dependent upon changing environmental conditions and metabolic demands. Most plants are unable to modify the environmental light levels they are exposed to. As a result, they have developed numerous mechanisms that allow them to fine tune the absorption, distribution and safe dissipation of the light energy. These mechanisms involve a close interaction between light-harvesting pigments and their protein environment.
Our general goal is to understand the molecular photophysical mechanisms of energy conversion in photosynthesis and the regulation of these processes.