John H. Golbeck

John H. Golbeck

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  • Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Professor of Chemistry
328 South Frear Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 865-1163


Sunlight is the ultimate source of energy for most organisms on Earth. In plants, algae and cyanobacteria, the energy of light is used to synthesize carbohydrates from CO2, resulting in the byproduct of atmospheric O2. My research group focuses on the study of Type I (iron-sulfur) reaction centers, including Photosystem I of cyanobacteria (Figure 1.1) and plants, and the reaction centers of the strictly anaerobic heliobacteria and green sulfur bacteria. My students and I work to uncover the genes, polypeptides, and cofactors that are involved in the structure, function, and assembly of Type I reaction centers. To accomplish these goals, we employ molecular biological techniques such as site-directed mutagenesis and secondary suppressor screening, biochemical techniques such as resolution and reconstitution of proteins and cofactors, and biophysical techniques such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy and time-resolved optical spectroscopy.

Research Interests:


Research in photosynthesis



Structure/Function Studies of Photosynthetic Reaction Centers
Electrically-Conductive Bacterial Nanowires in Shewenella oneidensis
Biohybrid Nanoconstructs for Solar Biohydrogen Production