Interdisciplinary PhD in Structural and Computational Biology and Quantitative Biosciences

Kevin Lauterjung

McClean Lab


Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Sound Arts, SAE Institute

Bio: Kevin comes to Madison from the San Francisco Bay area, where he switched into molecular biology after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Sound Arts. He worked in various research and technician positions focused on next-generation sequencing, at Children’s Hospital Research Institute Oakland, California Pacific Medical Center, UC Berkeley’s QB3 sequencing core, and 10x Genomics. He joined the Biophysics Ph.D. program at UW – Madison in 2016 and the McClean group in 2018.

Project: Engineering transkingdom conjugation towards smart probiotics and microbiome perturbation

As the importance we place on microbiomes grows, so too does our interest in understanding and engineering them. My work utilizes the capacity of bacteria to conjugatively transfer DNA to eukaryotic cells, using the genetically tractable Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae to fundamentally expand this capacity. Specific goals of this work are to increase DNA transfer rates, gauge the ability of transkingdom conjugation (TKC) to perturb microbial systems in situ, and to control TKC in time and space using optogenetics. This work could lead to a bevy of smart probiotics for wounds, soils, or guts, wherein living donor bacteria modify recipient fungi to direct their functions, under engineered control.

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Kevin Lauterjung