The Sci-Files – 03/20/2023 – Joshua Kaste – Building Biochemical Traffic Maps

Chelsie Boodoo and Daniel Puentes

Joshua Kaste headshot. he is smiling with a blue shirt on, he has glasses on and a green foilage background
Joshua Kaste headshot

On this week’s The Sci-Files, your hosts Chelsie and Danny interview Joshua Kaste. Joshua is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University, and he works in the Shachar-Hill laboratory. His work focuses on building and analyzing mathematical models that describe the rates of all the chemical reactions going on in a living cell or whole organism. If you think of all the chemical compounds and the chemical reactions between them as a sort of road map, these models are like the traffic heat map showing where there’s congestion, where there’s not much activity, etc. This kind of work gets used for basic biological research, but it can also be used by biological engineers since a lot of projects require modifying an organism so that it makes more of a chemical compound. This kind of analysis can be very helpful for figuring out how exactly to accomplish that. In particular, Joshua’s work focuses on the oilseed crop Camelina sativa, which is cultivated for its oil, which can be used as fuel. By modeling its metabolism, we may be able to improve the oil yield farmers get from it, improving its viability as an alternative to fossil fuels.
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