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Rob Knight develops and uses state-of-the-art computational and experimental techniques in his lab to ask fundamental questions about the evolution of the composition of biomolecules, genomes, and communities in different ecosystems, including the complex microbial ecosystems of the human body. His laboratory subscribes to an open-access scientific model, providing free, open-source software tools and making all protocols and data publicly available in order to increase general interest in and understanding of microbial ecology, and to further public involvement in scientific endeavors more generally.
The Knight Lab has produced many of the software tools and laboratory techniques that enabled high-throughput microbiome science, including the QIIME pipeline and UniFrac. Knight is co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project, the American Gut Project, and the company Biota, Inc., which uses DNA from microbes in the subsurface to guide oilfield decisions. His work has linked microbes to a range of health conditions including obesity and inflammatory bowel disease; has enhanced our understanding of microbes in environments ranging from the oceans to the tundra; and has made high-throughput sequencing techniques accessible to thousands of researchers around the world.