Staff Scientist, Biological Nanostructures Facility
Biological systems precisely create and order structures on the nanoscale, endowing a variety of functionalities upon these assemblies. My research focuses on genetically re-engineering microbes to interface with nanostructured materials with an emphasis on applications in clean and renewable energy.
- Living Electrical Nanointerfaces
Cellular-electrical connections would enable devices to combine specialties of the living world and the non-living technological world and so advance applications in biological sensing, energy production and programming cell behavior. Techniques used thus far to create connections between cells and electrodes have resulted in links that are either fragile or poorly controlled. Our strategy is to use both genetic and materials engineering to create nanoscale bio-inorganic interfaces designed to work together. Drawing upon nature’s evolutionary diversity, we have genetically transplanted a naturally-occurring extracellular electron transfer chain into a new microbial host. This transforms an electrically inert microbe into one in which electrons can be controllably shuttled from the cell cytoplasm to an extracellular inorganic material.
- Microbial Mineralization of CO2
In order for geological carbon dioxide sequestration to become widely adopted, the ability to seal underground reservoirs to prevent escape of gases and fluids is likely to be a key requirement. Microbes can greatly alter both the kinetics and products of carbonate mineral nucleation and growth. Thus, they provide a uniquely scalable method to control both processes simultaneously. We are investigating nanoscale and molecular manipulations of individual microbes to explore how they affect the calcium and carbonate concentrations and the onset of nucleation of carbonate minerals.
- Ajo-Franklin, C. M.; Drubin, D. A.; Eskin, J. A.; Gee, P. S; Landgraf, D.; Phillips, I., Silver, P. A, “Rational Design of Memory in Eukaryotic Cells.” Genes Dev. (2007) 2271-6.
- Kelly, J.R.; Rubin, A. J.; Ajo-Franklin, C.M.; Cumbers, J.; Czar, M. J.; de Mora, K.; Gliebermann, A. L.; Monie, D. D.; Endy, D. “Measuring the activity of BioBrick promoters using an in vivo reference standard.” J. Biol. Engineer. (2009) 20;3:4.
- Ajo-Franklin, C. M.; Ganesan, P. V.; Boxer, S. G. “Variable Incidence Angle Fluorescence Interference Contrast Microscopy for z-Imaging Single Objects.” Biophys. J. (2005), 89, 2759-2769.
- Ajo-Franklin, C. M.; Ganesan, P. V.; Boxer, S. G. “High refractive index substrates for fluorescence microscopy of biological interfaces with high z contrast.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (2001), 98, 13643-13648.
Ph.D. Chemistry 2004, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Thesis Advisor: Prof. Steven G. Boxer; "High Resolution Fluorescence Microscopy for Membrane Interfaces”.B.S. Chemistry 1997, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. Advisor: Prof. Vincent P Conticello.
Past professional positions
2005 – 2007 Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Prof. Pamela Silver
2004 (summer) Intern, New Technologies, Kosan Biosciences, Hayward, CA
1995 (summer) University of Texas, Austin, TX
My website: http://www.ajofranklin.com
Openwetware – a great place to find and share protocols: http://openwetware.org/