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Rob  Knight

Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and BioFrontiers Institute

Contact Information
596 UCB
Boulder CO, 80309-0295 USA

Office Hours

No fall hours


Rob Knight web site

Research Interests

Human microbiome; microbial community analysis; genomics; bioinformatics; computational biology; phylogenetic trees; horizontal gene transfer; pattern recognition; statistical classification; databases.


BS, University of Otago, New Zealand; PhD, Princeton University


Rob Knight completed a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry in his native New Zealand at the University of Otago in 1996, then completed a PhD on the origin and evolution of the genetic code with Laura Landweber in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University in 2001. He conducted postdoctoral research with Mike Yarus on RNA sequence space in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado, then was the first hire in the interdisciplinary BioFrontiers Institute (then CIMB) at the University of Colorado in 2004. Since becoming a faculty member, much of his work has focused on characterizing complex microbial communities, including those that inhabit our bodies. In 2009 he became an HHMI Early Career Scientist, and in 2012 he became an AAAS Fellow. He participates in the Human Microbiome Project in several capacities including PI of the University of Colorado component of the Data Analysis and Coordination Center; he is PI of the grants funding the Earth Microbiome Project and Scientific Lead of American Gut; his lab developed the popular UniFrac and QIIME software for microbial community analyses, among other packages, and protocols for high-throughput microbial amplicon sequencing on the 454 and Illumina platforms; and he has participated in discoveries including linking gut microbes to obesity, to diet, to geography, to age and to host behavior; the individualized nature of our microbes, which even link us to objects we touch; the role of pH rather than plant community or biome in structuring soil microbial communities globally; and the deep microbial "seed bank" that occurs in marine and perhaps other ecosystems.