Recognizing Plant Physiology first authors: Clay Wright

Clay Wright, first author of Plant Synthetic Biology: Quantifying the Known Unknowns and Discovering the Unknown Unknowns

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Biological Systems Engineering, Translational Plant Science Program, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg VA USA.

Education: Postdoctoral Fellow, Departments of Biology and Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, 2014-2018; Ph.D., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 2014; B.S., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, 2008

Non-scientific Interests: Mountain biking, being outdoors, cooking, and fermenting.

Brief bio: Clay Wright’s research aims to understand how signaling networks facilitate both plasticity and robustness in plant form and function and to harness this knowledge to engineer proteins, signaling networks, and biosynthetic pathways for applications in agriculture and biotechnology.

The Wright Plant Synthetic Biology lab integrates approaches from synthetic and computational biology, protein engineering, bioinformatics, molecular evolution, and genetics to quantify signaling dynamics, genetic interactions, and functional relationships in plant signaling. In the lab, we utilize synthetic biology and genetically tractable model bacteria, yeast, and plants to measure signaling dynamics by recapitulating small modules of complex signaling pathways in a bottom-up engineering approach. We also build tools, such as biosensors and bioinformatics tools, to facilitate quantitative top-down genetics approaches to understanding signaling.