Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Barry Bruce

Professor, Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology, UTK


Dr. Barry Bruce currently serves as a Professor in the Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology Dept. at University of Tennessee Knoxville.  He is also an Adjunct Professor in Microbiology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  Bruce was a founding faculty member of the UTK/ORNL Graduate Program in Genome Science and Technology

He received his BS from the University of California Santa Cruz with majors in Chemistry and Biology.  He has a MS from the University of Massachusetts in Biochemistry and a PhD from University of California Berkeley in Molecular Plant Biology.  He was also awarded a NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Plant Biology to work with Dr. Ken Keegstra at University of Wisconsin Madison.

Bruce joined the Biochemistry Department University of Tennessee in 1994. In January of 2008, he co-founded and became the Associate Director of the Sustainable Energy Education and Research Center (SEERC) at University of Tennessee. Currently, he is co-principal investigator and Thrust Leader for NSF-funded educational programs in Sustainable Technologies (NSF IGERT STAIR) and Solar Energy (NSF RII TN-SCORE). He has continued support from NSF, USDA, NIH, & DOE as well as private companies and donors. He has published over 75 manuscripts (including Plant CellPNASScienceNano LettersNature NanotechnologyPLOS BiologyEMBO Report) and has an h-factor of 27.


The researchers in Dr. Bruce’s lab work concurrently on two aspects of membrane biochemistry related to photosynthesis: 

Chloroplast protein import: Dr. Bruce has had a long-standing interest in the biogenesis of organelles.  In particular, the family of organelles specific to plants, known as plastids. This family includes a diverse set of organelles that perform an extensive set of biochemical reactions including the process of photosynthesis, which takes place in chloroplast. This diverse metabolic activity is enabled via the import of several thousand nuclear encoded proteins from the cytosol. This targeting and import process is critical to many, if not most, of the key metabolic processes associated with plants. He is specifically interested in how chloroplast destined precursors are targeted, recognized and translocated into the plastid via two tranlocons, TIC and TOC, that are found in the chloroplast inner and outer envelope membranes, respectively. This process is mediated by selective recognition of the transit peptide by one or more of the TOC components. 

Applied photosynthesis: A second area of research is how to best exploit the ultra efficient process of solar energy capture and conversion of natural photosynthesis into hybrid devices that will provide either direct photovoltaic electricity or be stored in some form of fuel such as molecular hydrogen. To date, the study has helped design, build, and characterized the following: 1) luminescent solar concentrators, 2) hybrid Bio-organic thin-film photovoltaic devices, 3) hydride bio-inorganic photovoltaic devices, and 4) bio-Pt hydrogen evolving nanoparticles.

Dr. Bruce's Research Webpages:


Khoa Nguyen, Barry D. Bruce, Growing green electricity: Progress and strategies for use of Photosystem I for sustainable photovoltaic energy conversion, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, Available online 3 January 2014, ISSN 0005-2728,

Mukherjee, D., Michael Vaughn, M., Khomami, B., and Bruce, B.D. (2010) Modulation of cyanobacterial Photosystem I deposition properties on alkanethiolate Au substrate by various experimental conditions. Biosensor & Bioelectronics in review

Mershin, A., Matsumoto, K., Kaiser, L., Yu, D., Vaughn, M., Nazeeruddin, M., Bruce, B.D., Graetzel, M., and Zhang, S. (2010) Self-Assembled Photosystem-I Photovoltaics On Nanostructured TiO2 And ZnO. Nature Nanotechnology in review

Mukherjee, D., Vaughn, M., Bruce, B.D. and Khomami, B. (2010) Controlling the morphological assembly of Photosystem I deposited on thiol activated Au substrates. Langmuir 26(20):16048-54.

Iwuchukwu, I., Vaughn, M., Myers, N., O’Neill, H., Frymier, P., & Bruce, B. D. (2010) Self-assembled Photosynthetic Nanoparticle for Cell-free Hydrogen Production. Nature Nanotechnology5, 73-79. 

Mulder, C.L., Theogarajan, L., Currie, M., Mapel, J.K., Vaughn M., Willard, P., Moss, M.W., C.E. McLain, C.E, Morseman, J.P., Bruce, B.D., M.A. Baldo (2009) Luminescent Solar Concentrators Employing Phycobilisomes. Advanced Materials 21:1-5

Matsumoto, K., Vaughn, V., Bruce, B.D., Koutsopoulos, S & Zhang, S. (2009) Designer Peptide Surfactants Stabilize Functional Photosystem-I Membrane Complex In Aqueous Solution For Extended Time. J. Phys. Chem B. 113:1, 75-83. 

Reddick, L, Chotewutmontri, P., Crenshaw, W., Dave, A., Vaughn, M., & Bruce, B.D. (2008) Nano-scale Characterization of the Dynamics of the Chloroplast Toc Translocon. Methods in Cell Biology, 95, 365-387.

Yu, A.A., Stoney, P.R., Norvillez, J.E., Vaughn, M., Pacsial, E.J., Bruce, B.D., Baldo, M., and Stellacci, F. (2006) A Simple Atomic Force Microscopy Method The Visualization Of Polar And Non-Polar Parts Organic Films. J. Exp. Nanoscience1, 63-73.

Kiley, P., Zhao, X., Vaughn, M., Baldo, M.A., Bruce, B.D., and Shuguang Zhang (2005) Self-assembling Peptide Detergents Stabilize Isolated Photosystem I on a Dry Surface for an Extended Time.  PloS Biology3(7), e230-237. 

Strader, M.B., VerBerkmoes, N.C., Tabb, D.L., Connelly, H.M., Barton, J.W., Bruce, B.D., Pelletier, D.A., Davison, B.H., Hettich, R.L., Larimer, F.W., Hurst, G. (2004) Characterization of the 70S ribosome from Rhodopseudomonas palustris using an integrated "top-down" and "bottom-up" mass spectrometric approach. J.  Proteome Res. 3(5): 965-978.

Evans, B.R., O'Neill, H.M., Hutchens, S.A., Bruce, B.D., and Greenbaum E  (2004) Enhanced photocatalytic hydrogen evolution by covalent attachment of plastocyanin to photosystem I. Nano Lett.4(10): 1815-1819.

Das, R., Kiley, P.J., Segal, M., Norville, J., Yu, A.A., Wang, L.Y., Trammell, S.A., Reddick, L.E., Kumar, R., Stellacci, F., Lebedev, N., Schnur, J., Bruce, B.D., Zhang, S.G., and Baldo, M. (2004) Integration of photosynthetic protein molecular complexes in solid-state electronic devices. Nano Lett. 4(6): 1079-1083.

Millsaps, J.I., Bruce, B.D., Lee, J.W., and Greenbaum, E., (2001) Nanoscale photosynthesis: Photocatalytic production of hydrogen by platinized photosystem I reaction centers. Photochem. Photobio.73: 630-636.

Contact Information