Andy Webber is a professor of molecular and cellular biosciences in the School of Life Sciences and also serves as executive director in the Office of the University Provost where he oversees University Accreditation and Academic Program Reviews.
Professor Webber's previous administrative duties have included director of the Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis from 2000-2003, associate director for the School of Life Sciences from 2003-2005, and associate vice provost/vice provost of ASU's Graduate College from 2005-2016. He served on numerous National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Agriculture panels, and currently serves as associate editor for the international journals Photosynthesis Research and PLoS One.
Webber's research interests have focused on the molecular mechanisms of photosynthetic energy transduction and chloroplast development. A long-standing project has focused on the structure and function of the photosystem I reaction center complex. The structure of photosystem I is now known at atomic resolution. However, it is still unknown why the electron transfer cofactors have such a remarkably low potential.
His research uses recombinant DNA techniques to specifically alter the genes encoding the photosystem I heterodimer to understand how the protein environment may modulate essential physico-chemical properties of the electron transfer intermediates. The eukaryotic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is used as a model organism in these studies. The chloroplast genome of Chlamydomonas can be easily transformed using a "gene gun" to shoot modified genes, carried on sub-micron sized gold particles, into the chloroplast. Mutant cells are produced that synthesize the reaction-center complex with altered polypeptide components. These site-specific mutants of Chlamydomonas are characterized using a range of molecular, biochemical and biophysical techniques.
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