Research Foci

Agricultural Genomics and Biotechnology

Agricultural Genomics and Biotechnology is the area that utilizes modern genomics and biotechnology to advance our understanding of fundamental issues in plant and animal biology and their application to economically important plants and animal agriculture. UNH faculty are involved in multi-disciplinary research spanning population genetics, reproductive physiology, molecular biology and genetic engineering, livestock nutrition, and crop improvement and protection.

Environmental Microbiology

Environmental microbiology is the study of the relationships that exist between microorganisms and the environment, including the composition, structure and physiology of microbial communities. The environment not only consists of the soil, water, air, sediment, and rocks covering the planet, but also includes the animals and plants that inhabit these areas and microbes that exist in artificial environments such as bioreactors. Research in environmental microbiology is highly diverse and employs multiple cross-disciplinary approaches. A number of UNH faculty are engaged in a variety of collaborative research programs addressing fundamental environmental issues addressing how organisms respond to environmental changes. 

Genome Maintenance, Evolution, and Molecular Ecology 

The source of all genetic variation is mutation.  As such, the mechanisms dedicated to maintaining the fidelity of genome replication are fundamental to biology. Genome instability is a common aspect of many diseases such as cancer, as DNA is continually altered by an array of mutagenic agents from the environment and cellular metabolism. The mechanisms that monitor and repair DNA damage are very complex, yet surprisingly very well-conserved, from single-celled microorganisms (such as yeasts), to plants, to humans.

Just as mutation is essential to evolution of new traits, and ultimately new species, variation in mutation shapes genome evolution.  Molecular ecology surveys genetic variation that may underlie adaptation to new or changing habitats, mapping the patterns of variation across landscapes.

Host/Microbial Interactions

No higher organism lives in isolation from a myriad of microbes.  Associating microbes can either secure host nutrients by siege (causing disease) or by mutual consent (sometimes promoting the health of their partners).  At the same time, both plant and animal hosts employ barriers to infection by pathogens, obstacles that challenge foe and friend alike and shape the adaptive evolution of microbial populations.  The complexity of these different associations provides an exciting framework for discovery.  A number of research programs at UNH explore this interface providing interdisciplinary training in microbiology, ecology, evolution, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, with long-term applications of relevance to both applied and basic science.      

Metabolic Health

Many chronic inflammatory health disorders, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are preceded by measurable changes in metabolic health.  Using molecular, biochemical, nutritional and metabolic approaches, UNH faculty are researching the mechanisms that underlie the etiology of these metabolic health markers.  Ongoing studies are examining the effects of consuming a diet imbalanced in dietary micro- and macronutrients, and of being exposed to endocrine-disrupting environmental chemicals, on biological processes that influence metabolic health and contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases.

Signal Transduction

Signal transduction is the study of how cells control their own and each others' behaviors through physical (light, sound) or chemical (hormone, neurotransmitter) signals. Signal transduction research is an intensely active field of research, and UNH faculty are engaged in a variety of research programs that employ biochemical, molecular, cellular, and genetic/genomic approaches to understand cellular communication.  

Structural Biology and Proteomics

The enzymatic, scaffolding, trafficking and regulatory functions of proteins are carried out on the platform of their three-dimensional structures.  Mechanistic insights on diverse cellular processes can be derived from the characterization of protein structures, including their 3D structure and hydrodynamics, spatial and temporal regulation of protein interactions, and protein glycosylation.  A number of UNH research programs are addressing the structure/function relationship of proteins and protein assemblies with diverse spectroscopic approaches utilizing centrifugation, mass spectrometry, and chemical or fluorescent labeling.