Medford researches using synthetic biology to develop new types of plants with specialized functions, such as for bioenergy or detecting the presence of dangerous chemicals.
To speed up the development of plants with enhanced bioenergy traits, Medford’s lab is engineering synthetic genetic switches with digital-like behavior that are capable of controlling development in these species.
Medford has also developed a genetic circuit that allows a plant to detect a substance and report on its presence in a way that people or cameras can see. Thanks to its highly modular design, this basic system can be adapted to a wide variety of uses including detecting environmental pollutants. The first Plant Sentinel developed is capable of detecting TNT.
Medford earned her B.S. in botany from the University of Maryland and her Ph.D. in biology from Yale University.