Susan S. Golden received a B.A. (1978) in Biology from Mississippi University for Women and a Ph.D. (1983) in Genetics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She conducted postdoctoral research at The University of Chicago and joined the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University in 1986. In 2008 she moved to the University of California at San Diego, where she is a Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology and Director of the Center for Circadian Biology. Golden was among the first to develop genetic tools for cyanobacteria, which she initially applied to understanding the regulation of photosynthesis in Synechococcus elongatus. This foundation enabled the identification in the early 1990s, in collaboration with T. Kondo, M. Ishiura, and C.H. Johnson, of components of the circadian clock mechanism in cyanobacteria. Over the ensuing decades she has contributed key findings that have elucidated structure and function, mechanisms of environmental sensing and signal transduction, and physiological consequences of the clock. The Golden laboratory also conducts research tp develop cyanobacteria as biotechnological platforms. She holds the Chancellor’s Associates Chair in Molecular Biology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, an HHMI Professor, and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

The Golden lab conducts research using biochemical, biophysical, cellular, genetic, and genomic approaches to understand the mechanism of the circadian clock and how temporal information is integrated to achieve diurnal physiology in a prokaryotic model, the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus. Working with structural biology collaborators her group helped to identify new aspects of protein dynamics that underpin the timekeeping mechanism of the circadian oscillator and the flow of information out to exert regulation of temporal gene expression. The work resulted in an expansion of the known KaiABC circadian oscillator to include two kinases as important components, and to develop this expanded oscillator into an in vitro clock that provides a real-time readout of promoter binding by a transcription factor. Her group developed a bar-coded TnSeq library and techniques to conduct population-based screens that reveal networks of genes that interact with a known locus, and contributions of all genes that contribute to fitness under a specific set of conditions. She collaborates with a cryo-tomography colleague to define ultrastructural details of the day-night differences in cellular physiology. Other work addresses biofilm formation and phototaxis in the cyanobacterium, and development of a metabolic model to facilitate exploitation of the organism for biotechnological purposes.

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Primary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology

Secondary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology