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James Bardwell wants to understand – and optimize – how proteins fold within the cell. To do so, Bardwell’s team uses directed evolution via a variety of biochemical, biophysical, and genetic tools and techniques. For example, they use special folding biosensors to monitor protein folding under antibiotic selection which allows for the growth of only more stabilized proteins. Bardwell’s approaches also provide powerful ways to discover, isolate, and study chaperone proteins, which are critical to the folding of other proteins.