Summary: Research in the Hayden lab involves the design and laboratory evolution of RNA in order to discover molecules with potential biomedical and biotechnical applications. Our research also contributes to our understanding of how life evolves, even from its earliest chemical beginnings. The application of next generation sequencing technologies allows new insights into the process of evolution as it occurs in nature and the laboratory, and allows us to put theory to the experimental test. Recently, several collaborative projects have also been initiated with other professors at Boise State, including Dr. Matt Ferguson (Physics, Boise State) where we are conducting single-molecule fluorescence microscopy of RNA processing events inside living Eukaryotic cells. We are devising ways to produce never-before-seen footage of the inner mechanisms of Eukaryotic gene expression. We will use this knowledge to improve our ability to interface and control gene expression.

Minimum Classes: N/A

Projects: Riboswitch discovery in the gut metagenomes of herbivore specialists (collaboration with Dr. Forbey, Biology). The project would involve DNA isolation from herbivore samples, quantitative PCR for quality control of microbial DNA content, next-generation sequencing analysis.

CRISPR/CAS introduction of synthetic regulatory RNA, or fluorescent RNA labels into human cell lines (potential collaboration with Dr. Ferguson, Physics). CRISPR/CAS system is the breakthrough of the century, enabling consistent and precise gene editing. This project would involve adding small RNA elements to genomes so that we can visualize and control gene expression at the RNA level. Previous cell culture experience recommended. The project would involve mammalian cell culture and transfections, PCR and DNA sequencing.
Telomere length measurements in Kestrals, a local bird of prey (collaboration with Dr. Heath, Biology). Telomere lengths are a great indicator of the birds fitness. This project will involve DNA isolation and quantitative PCR.
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