Nov 1, 2019
11:00 AM
12:00 PM
Brauer Hall, room 12

Dr. Ting Lu, Associate Professor
Department of BioEngineering
University of Illinois

Bottom-up Assembly of Microbial Communitites: Modeling, Analysis and Engineering

Abstract: Microbial communities play profound roles in the environment, agriculture and human health. To exploit their potential for applications, a fundamental prerequisite is to decipher the basic rules of community organization in space and time. My lab aims to address this challenge using a bottom-up approach that combines experimental synthetic biology with mathematical modeling. Recently, we developed a computational platform that enables mechanistic simulation of microbial communities in space. We also examined how the modes of cellular social interaction and the spatial scale of interaction contribute to microbial assemblages using experimental ecosystems. With engineered cellular interactions, we further demonstrated the utility of synthetic ecosystems for metabolic engineering purposes. Our studies provide insights into the assembly of native communities and also illustrate the potential of synthetic consortia for practical purposes.

Biography: Dr. Ting Lu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He received B.S. in Physics from Zhejiang University in 2002 and Ph.D. in Biophysics from UC-San Diego in 2007. Prior to joining UIUC in 2011, Dr. Lu was a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton, MIT and Wyss Institute at Harvard. His research focuses on microbial synthetic biology—the design, analysis and construction of gene regulatory circuits in microorganisms for cellular functionality programming. In particular, he is interested in uncovering the design rules underlying microbial community assembly and utilizing these rules to engineer synthetic ecosystems for applications. Dr. Lu has received several awards for his research, including NSF CAREER Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, NIH MIRA, Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, ACS Infectious Diseases Young Investigator Award and others.