Speaker Profile: Professor Lin’s research lies at the intersection of biology and engineering with a focus on microbial systems, particularly microbial communities, using systems biology and synthetic biology approaches. Her lab aims to employ engineering tools and skills such as microfluidics and quantitative modeling to help unlock mysteries of complex natural microbial communities, especially those closely associated with environment and health issues (e.g. human microbiome). In parallel, the research group exploits design principles nature utilizes and develops synthetic microbial consortia technologies to address critical needs faced by our society such as sustainable biofuel and chemical production.
Microbes are everywhere in nature and they live in diverse communities that show remarkable metabolic capabilities and robustness. One research thrust in my lab has been to employ engineering related tools to study these naturally occurring microbial consortia in order to discover underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. In particular, we have been developing a technological pipeline, based on nanoliter-scale microfluidic droplets, to co-cultivate sub-communities and characterize member interactions that shape the community structure and function. In this talk, I will present a number of technological modules we have created and are developing. I’ll also discuss how we are applying this toolbox, jointly with our collaborators, to the investigation of several microbiomes closely related to human health or the environment.