Clay Wright, assistant professor of biological systems engineering, is one of a number of new faculty members hired in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences this academic year.

New positions were identified to bring talent to the college's focus areas, including food, health, the environment, and community viability. The new faculty members are distributed across teaching, research, and Extension.

Wright’s research focuses on understanding how plants sense their environment and, in response, coordinate their development, growth, and behavior. His goal is to improve our understanding of the complex genetic networks controlling this so that we can re-engineer these networks for applications in agriculture and biotechnology. In a bottom-up engineering approach, he utilizes a combination of synthetic and computational biology to recapitulate simple signaling modules and parameterize predictive models of more complex networks. He also engineers tools, such as biosensors and bioinformatics pipelines to facilitate quantitative top-down genetics approaches to understanding signaling.

He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from North Carolina State University and his doctorate in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Johns Hopkins University.