Dr. Batey's research focuses on the structure-function relationships of RNA. The model system that his research group utilizes is the riboswitch, an element found in messenger RNAs that can specifically bind a small molecule to direct gene expression in a cis-fashion. To understand how these genetic regulatory elements work, several aspects of their function are studied using x-ray crystallography to develop three-dimensional models of these RNAs and their complexes with small molecules and a set of biophysical, biochemical and molecular biological and genetic tools to relate ligand binding to gene regulation. These systems are also being exploited to develop new tools for synthetic biology. By exploiting in vitro selection methodologies, natural riboswitches are being repurposed to recognize new small molecules to be used in the cell to sense small molecules in vivo and regulate genes in novel ways. We are also beginning to study lncRNA structure-function relationships.