Bioluminescence Research Group 2021
2021 Research Group, left to right, Allison Racela, Bruce Branchini, Dawn Kohrt, Brian Huta, Danielle Fontaine, and Ben Fort.
Danielle Fontaine, M.A., Research Technician
B.A., Molecular Biology, Susquehanna University, Pennsylvania, 1999; M.A. in Cell and Molecular Biology, Boston University, 2002.
I was a laboratory instructor for introductory biology labs as well as anatomy and physiology lab coordinator at Boston University. My current research focuses on creating new P. pyralis mutants and carrying out a directed evolution study to identify luciferase-substrate analog pairs that emit near IR light. Outside of the lab, I enjoy reading, gardening, salt/freshwater fishing, and chasing my son around!
Brian Huta, Ph.D., Research Technician
Ph.D., Chemistry, Syracuse University, 2014
B.S., Molecular and Cell Biology; Chemistry, University of Connecticut, 2009
My previous research experience includes the total synthesis of the retinal analog, 8,16-methanoretinal, as well as the cloning, expression, purification, and characterization of the membrane, soluble, and antibody fusion proteins. In the Branchini lab, I have been fortunate to work on the purification of new luciferase mutants and the synthesis of novel luciferin analogs. Outside of the lab, I enjoy reading, astronomy, sports, and spending time with my family.
Allison Racela '22, Undergraduate Research Student
I am a senior at Connecticut College majoring in Biochemistry. I began working with the Branchini research group in May of 2019, and I was involved in testing the activity and intensity of luciferin variants in live cells. Other than working in the lab, I tutor chemistry through the science leaders program and I enjoy running, skiing, and spending time with my friends on campus. Plans to continue research were interrupted due to the college closing during the COVID-19 pandemic.