Cory Tobin, President

Short Bio

I did my B.S. in biochemistry at California Lutheran University and my PhD in plant genetics at the California Institute of Technology in the Meyerowitz Lab. I have taught biology at Caltech and chemistry at CLU.  At TheLab I worked on a project identifying an oxygen-tolerant nitrogenase in soil microbes and I am now working on a synthetic biology project with the goal of bootstrapping a bacterial genome using chromosome hybridization.

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Research Interests

My biological interests revolve around ways of “booting up” a genome.  Currently, with enough money and effort, we can synthesize DNA and assemble it into a complete bacterial chromosome.  In order to actually make that DNA become a living and dividing cell, the DNA needs cytoplasm and a complete array of proteins to turn that DNA into RNA and the RNA into proteins.  This leads to the problem – how to provide the DNA with all the necessary machinery so it can start making its own machinery.  Ultimately I want to design an arbitrary bacterial chromosome in software and have a machine synthesize the DNA and generate a functioning cell – creating life from scratch.

My chemical interests revolve around synthesizing electrochemical storage devices using conductive polymers.  Currently, most conductive polymer capacitors are limited by their inherent structure – a relatively thin layer of active material coated on a relatively thick metal foil which means the large majority of the device does not contribute to the storage capacity. I am working on ways of synthesizing a rigid, porous, three dimensional conductive scaffold to coat with active material allowing for the construction of a device with the active material composing over 70% of the dry mass.



Bootstrapping a Genome Through Chromosome Hybridization

Characterization of an Oxygen-Tolerant Nitrogenase



2015 – PhD Biology, California Institute of Technology

2007 – B.S. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, California Lutheran University



Streptomyces Thermoautotrophicus Does Not Fix Nitrogen.  MacKellar D, Lieber L, Norman JS, Bolger A, Tobin C, Murray JW, Oksaksin M, Chang RL, Ford TJ, Nguyen PQ, Woodward J, Permingeat H, Joshi N, Silver P, Usadel B, Rutherford WA, Friesen ML (2015) Nature Scientific Reports. 10, 1055-1060.
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Real-Time Lineage Analysis to Study Cell Division Orientation in the Arabidopsis Shoot Meristem. Tobin, C & Meyerowitz, EM (2016). Methods in Molecular Biology: Plant Cell Division, Methods and Protocols, pp147-167.
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Analysis of Cell Division Patterns in the Arabidopsis Shoot Apical Meristem.  Shapiro BE, Tobin C, Mjolsness E, & Meyerowitz EM (2015). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(15), 4815–20.
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Computational morphodynamics of plants: integrating development over space and time.  Roeder AHK, Tarr PT, Tobin C, Zhang X, Chickarmane V, Cunha A, & Meyerowitz EM (2011). Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, (March), 1–8.
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Using Geometric Markers to Predict the Cell Division Plane in Meristem Cells. In Proceedings of the 6th International Workshop on Functional-Structural Plant Models Shapiro BE, Heisler M, Tobin C, Cunha A, Davis A, Mjolsness E, & Meyerowitz, EM (2010), (pp. 129–131). Davis, CA.
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Computational Morphodynamics: A Modeling Framework to Understand Plant Growth.  Chickarmane, V, Roeder, AHK, Tarr, PT, Cunha, A, Tobin, C, & Meyerowitz, EM (2010), Annual Review of Plant Biology, 61, 1-23.
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Research Experience

2008 – 2015: Graduate Research Assistant, Meyerowitz Lab, Caltech

2007: Bioinformatics Specialist, Wold Lab, Caltech

2006: Bioinformatics Research Assistant, Pellegrini Lab, UCLA

2005: Bioinformatics Research Assistant, Wold Lab, Caltech