Research In The Spotlight

Nicole Buan

Assistant Professor 

What is your educational background:

Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2006-2010

PhD Microbiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2005

B.S. Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Arizona, 2000

What is the reason for pursuing your career (ie, what first intrigued you about microbiology)?

My first taste of microbiology was a parasitology class as an undergraduate. I was fascinated by the weirdness of parasites, and soon discovered that bacteria and archaea are even weirder and represent a virtually untapped universe of biochemistry and metabolism that is yet to be described. These organisms are important: even though we can't see the individual cells (in most cases, but there are exceptions) microbes create and maintain the environment that makes human life possible.

What is a short summary of your research?

Two gigatons of methane gas is produced annually by strictly anaerobic methanogenic archaea (methanogens). Methane is a highly combustible greenhouse gas. Therefore, methanogens are important in controlling the climate as well as in producing a renewable energy source. My lab studies the redox biochemistry of enzymes involved in methane metabolism. There is fertile ground for discovery, as eight new coenzymes and cofactors were discovered in a single metabolic pathway in methanogens. My lab uses biochemistry and genetics to study methanogen physiology so that we can improve methanogens for renewable energy production.

What do you find most interesting or rewarding in your research?

The process of creating understanding is a rare and true beauty veiled to all but a persistent few.

What are the classes you currently teach?

BIOC 934: Genome Dynamics and Gene Expression

Nicole Buan

Contact information:

  • Nicole Buan, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor
    Department of Biochemistry
    Redox Biology Center
    N222 Beadle Center
    1901 Vine Street
    Lincoln, NE 68588-0664
    Ph: (402) 472-7413