ProfessorGerald and Lyn Grinstein Professor of Microbiology
Associate Vice-Provost for Research
metabolic networks, bacterial signaling, bioenergy production
Caroline (Carrie) Harwood received her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Massachusetts and completed postdoctoral work at Yale University. She held academic appointments at Cornell University and the University of Iowa before moving to the University of Washington in 2005. Dr. Harwood is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology. She received the Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in 2010.
In my laboratory we are interested in understanding how bacteria integrate diverse environmental signals and diverse metabolic modules to function at the whole cell level. We rely heavily on genome sequencing, mutant construction and analysis and transcriptome analysis for our work.
A major area of interest is bioenergy production. Our model organism for this is the metabolically versatile photosynthetic bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris also known as Rpal. Rpal is an excellent model organism for studying bacterial mechanisms of long-term survival and also for studying regulation of photosynthesis. It stays alive for periods of months in a starved non-growing state as long as it is provided with light. Our goal is to generate foundational knowledge that will improve our ability to use non-growing photosynthetic bacteria as biocatalysts to convert inexpensive feedstock compounds to hydrogen gas or other biofuels. Towards this end we are trying to understand signal transduction cascades involved in the regulation of photosynthesis at low light. We are also working to define genes that are important for long term survival of non-growing cells.
A final more recent interest, developed in collaboration with E. Peter Greenberg in the Department, is in novel quorum sensing signals for bacterial cell-to-cell communication. We are also exploring signaling between bacteria and the plant Populus.