The research in the Kaar lab is broadly focused at the intersection of protein engineering, biocatalysis, and materials. We are specifically interested in how the convergence of these areas can lead to new opportunities to discover enzymes with improved properties and impart materials with biological function. Such opportunities have enabled the repertoire of synthetically important reactions that can be catalyzed by enzymes to be significantly expanded. Additionally, through understanding and controlling the interaction of proteins with materials, it is feasible to design materials that sense and destroy toxic chemicals (e.g., chemical warfare agents), resist fouling and self-repair, improve tissue engineering, and meld seamlessly with the body. A major element of this research, which is highly multi-disciplinary, is to address fundamental questions about the function and fate of proteins in non-native and harsh conditions. These questions are addressed at the molecular level by using an amalgamation of biochemical, biophysical, and structural determination techniques.

Our Lab Values

We take pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment that represents a safe and respectful place for all individuals regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, ability, or sexual orientation. In creating such an environment, we are committed to justice, freedom of speech, and learning from one another while challenging each other to bring out our best. As a team, we also believe that scientific discoveries occur when data and quantitative observations pervade all scientific inquiry, and when diversity of race, gender, and perspectives infuse fresh thinking.

Open Positions Currently Available

We currently have openings for graduate students and postdoc positions. Prospective graduate students should apply to our graduate programs in the Chemical & Biological Engineering Department website. Interested postdoc applicants should apply by sending their CV directly to Prof. Joel Kaar.