The delivery of proteins to their correct cellular location is a fundamental aspect of cell biology. For many proteins, reaching a final destination involves crossing membranes, a process known as translocation. Understanding the mechanisms that nature has evolved to translocate proteins across membranes is an important aspect to learning more about the function and dysfunction of this key process. A useful model for studying protein translocation is the evolutionarily-conserved Sec system of Gram negative bacteria (such as E. coli), which exports proteins across and into the inner membrane. The Sec translocase of Gram negative bacteria also serves as the primary conduit for the secretion of virulence factors (toxins and adhesions) in Gram negative bacteria, making it an excellent target for the design of novel antibiotics. David Oliver’s research will expand our understanding of the Sec system and how proteins cross membranes. His work will contribute to improved and possibly novel strategies for protein production for biotechnological and pharmaceutical purposes, as well as to new insights into diseases linked to defects in protein targeting and trafficking.