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Steven Jacobsen wants to understand DNA methylation and epigenetic gene regulation processes that play important roles in development, defense against transposons, and genome integrity. Working in the model plant Arabidopsis and in mice, Jacobsen and his team focus on the mechanisms by which DNA methylation, histone methylation, and noncoding RNAs converge in overlapping pathways to promote stable and heritable repression of gene transcription. Understanding the mechanisms used to turn genes on and off could inform development of improved cancer therapies, among other advances.