Steven Finkel is a Professor of Biological Sciences in the Molecular & Computational Biology section at the University of Southern California. Dr. Finkel received his B.A. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Research in Dr. Finkel’s laboratory focuses on the long-term survival and evolution of bacteria both in planktonic culture and in biofilms, including understanding natural systems and applications to electricity production. Among the topics of current study in the laboratory are (1) the mechanisms of survival in many organisms, including population structure at the genetic & genomic level and studies of the GASP (growth advantage in stationary phase) phenotype; (2) the generation of bacterial diversity in different environments, including the roles of error-prone DNA polymerases in generating diversity; (3) the role of DNA-protein interactions in controlling gene expression, organizing the chromosome, and protecting DNA during the stationary phase of the bacterial lifecycle, focusing on the role of the Dps protein, (4) the use of DNA as a nutrient and parallels to natural competence and transformation; and (5) the long-term survival ability of bacteria in electricity-generating microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Model organisms in the laboratory include: Escherichia coli, Shewanella oneidensis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus mutans. Steve is married and has twin daughters.
- NSF CAREER Award.
- Co-PI on a $4.7 million project funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research to understand the biology of long-term bacterial growth in microbial fuel cells.
- Editor of the Biochemical Journal; editorial board member of Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Journal of Bacteriology.
- Deputy Director of the $12 million NHGRI-funded USC Center for Excellence in Genomic Sciences; director for the last 6 years of CEGS Minority/Diversity Programs.
- Founding Co-Director, USC Microbial Systems Institute.