The Stevens lab works in the general field of molecular microbiology with an emphasis on bacterial environmental sensing and gene regulation. The majority of the research projects focus on the phenomenon of bacterial quorum sensing, a mechanism whereby bacterial cells communicate with one another through the use of small molecules called autoinducers. By understanding this mode of bacterial gene regulation, methods to manipulate it in ways beneficial to society may be discovered. Historically, the group has studied quorum sensing in the symbiotic bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Current work in the laboratory, using modern molecular-based techniques, involves studies about quorum sensing in the corn pathogen (Pantoea stewartii) and a foodborne human pathogen (Vibrio parahaemolyticus).