Emily Balskus is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and became interested in both chemistry and education as a high school student, spending her summers teaching chemistry and biology as part of the Summerbridge program. She graduated from Williams College in 2002 as valedictorian with highest honors in chemistry. After spending a year at the University of Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar in the lab of synthetic organic chemist Prof. Steven Ley, she pursued graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, receiving her Ph.D. in 2008. Her graduate work with Prof. Eric Jacobsen focused on the development of asymmetric catalytic transformations and their application in the total synthesis of complex molecules. Among her accomplishments as a graduate student was the development of the first asymmetric catalytic transannular transformation (Science 2007, 317, 1736–1740). From 2008-2011 she was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Prof. Christopher T. Walsh. Her research in the Walsh group involved elucidating and characterizing biosynthetic pathways for the production of small molecule sunscreens by photosynthetic bacteria. One family of sunscreens examined in these studies, the mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs), are widespread in marine habitats and are important photoprotectants for a variety of organisms, including coral, marine invertebrates and fish. Emily discovered the genetic basis for the production of these molecules and characterized the biochemical transformations involved in their assembly (Science 2010, 329, 1653¬–1659). She also became interested in microbial ecology and environmental microbiology during her postdoctoral research and attended the Microbial Diversity Summer Course at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole during the summer of 2009. This experience enabled her to study sunscreen production by photosynthetic bacteria in their natural habitats. Emily’s independent work in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology focuses on chemical synthesis in the context of living organisms. This includes the discovery of biosynthetic pathways and enzymatic chemistry from a diverse range of microorganisms, as well as the development of innovative strategies for manipulating and engineering microbial metabolism to produce novel small molecules.