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Robert Dorit

Professor of Biological Sciences

Rob Dorit


Ford Hall 114


Robert Dorit’s lab is broadly concerned with experimental, retrospective and computational approaches to molecular evolution. They are also interested in understanding the genetics of antibiotic resistance and in the design of novel narrow spectrum antibiotics.

Current projects include:

  1. The design and directed evolution of novel antimicrobials that reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Specifically, the lab uses in vitro protein engineering to generate novel bacteriocins, which are then tested for activity and further modified to increase their activity, alter their target range or slow the appearance of resistant strains (in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Riley, University of Massachusetts Amherst).
  2. The engineering of chimeric molecules that can aid in the diagnosis and targeting of bacterial pathogens without disrupting the surrounding microbiome.
  3. Computational models of infectious disease, including tuberculosis models that incorporate the dynamics and consequences of resistance to conventional antibiotics (with Dr. Dylan Shepardson, Mount Holyoke College).
  4. An exploration of the effects of surface topography, hydrophobicity and chemical modification on the formation of bacterial biofilms (with Kate Queeney, Smith professor of chemistry).

Selected Publications

Zhang, J.*, Huang, J.*, Say, C. T.*, Dorit, R. L., Queeney, K. T., "Deconvoluting the effects of surface chemistry and nanoscale topography: Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm nucleation on Si-based substrates," J. Colloid Interface Sci. 2018, 519, 203-213.

Dorit, R, S. Roy, M. Riley, eds. 2016. The Bacteriocins: Current Knowledge and Future Prospects. Caister Academic Press.

Dorit, R. 2015. "How Ebola Breached Its Ecological Barriers". American Scientist 103 (5): 256-259.

J. L. Loveland, J. Rice, P. Turrini, M. Lizotte-Waniewski, R. L. Dorit. 2014. "Essential is not Irreplaceable: The Fitness Dynamics of Experimental E. coli RNase P RNA Heterologous Replacement". Journal of Molecular Evolution 79 (3-4):143-52.

R.L. Dorit, C. M. Roy, S. M. Robinson, M.A. Riley (2013) "The Evolutionary Histories of Clinical and Environmental SHV β-Lactamases are Intertwined". Journal of Molecular Evolution 76 (6).


Ph.D., Harvard University

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks