Dr. Josiah Zayner to Discuss Light Responsive Proteins at the ASL on Feb. 28th

Dr. Josiah Zaynera NASA Postdoctoral Fellow working with Masood Hadi in the Synthetic Biology and Innovation Lab at NASA Ames, will present a seminar, “My Attempts to Do Something Cool and Maybe Useful with Light Responsive Proteins”, at the ASL on February 28th. The event will be held in Building N239, Room #B39 from 12:00-1:00pm. Refreshments will be provided and you are welcome to bring your lunch.

Dr. Zayner’s brief bio and an abstract of his talk follow below. Questions about this event can be directed to the POC, Peter Minogue.


With the success of the Shuttle program and the International Space Station NASA has begun to shift its focus to long-term space travel and space colonization. The use of microorganism based biotechnology in space exploration can create reduced up-mass, regenerable tools that allow the exponential generation of complex molecules and the engineering or intricate processes that require little input or supervision. Synthetic biology and biological engineering provide the means to create these innovative tools. Recently, a class of light activated proteins termed Light-Oxygen-Voltage (LOV) domains have been identified that undergo a reversibly photocycle upon blue light stimulation. During this photocycle, a conformational change occurs which can be used to control protein function including gene expression in bacteria, yeast and mammalian cells. Through biophysical studies I have helped engineer and create light activated tools that are highly tunable and can control different cellular processes. I hope to use these to allow spatial patterning of bacteria and the generation of bacterio-toxic products with precise temporal control.

About the Speaker:

Josiah Zayner received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of Chicago where he was an Art and Sciences Fellow. His studies have focused on engineering light responsive proteins for synthetic biology purposes. Outside the lab he is an Artist in Residence for Google’s Imagine Science Films with his work being featured in Scientific American, Popular Science and NPR. Currently, he is a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow working with Masood Hadi in the Synthetic Biology and Innovation Lab.

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