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Principal Investigator
Barry Bruce, PhD
Associate Director,
Sustainable Energy & Education Research Center
Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology

Curriculum Vitae | Google Scholar | Research Gate
Graduate Students
Nathan Gallagher Brady, BS.
Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology
ORCiD: 0000-0002-3443-8006
Web of Science Researcher ID: H-3917-2017

Nate joined the Bruce lab in 2015. His graduate research focuses on increasing the in vitro efficiency of Photosystem I reaction center in biohybrid solar devices, for the sustainable production of electricity from sunlight. This goal has led him to investigate a new membrane protein isolation method, that preserves the native lipid environment in polymer bound nanodiscs. These styrene maleic acid lipid particles (SMALPs), present an opportunity to observe how specialized lipids of the thylakoid membrane influence the biochemical and biophysical activities of photosynthetic proteins. Nate received his BS in chemistry from The State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2009, with a focus in environmental chemistry. From there, he went to work for Quicksilver Scientific, a NELAC, CLIA and FDA accredited laboratory, focused on environmental research, human toxicology and liposomal delivery systems, based in Lafayette, Colorado.

Curriculum Vitae

Jyotirmoy Mondal, MS.
Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology
ORCiD: 0000-0002-0829-220X
Web of Science Researcher ID: H-3917-2017

Jyotirmoy Mondal joined the Bruce Lab in August 2015. His primary research focuses on understanding and enhancing the surface interaction of photosystem I (PSI) and ferredoxin (Fd) in order to incorporate the PSI:Fd complexes in bio-hybrid solar cell (BHSC) devices. He is using both computational tools and in vitro techniques like site-directed mutagenesis, chemical crosslinking assays, surface plasmon resonance and backscattering interferometry to elucidate the interaction interface between the two proteins.
His secondary research focuses on understanding the role of duckweed associated bacteria (DABs) in overall plant growth. He, along with an undergraduate research assistant, Truc Le, are also investigating the role of polyamines on photosynthesis in duckweeds under abiotic stress conditions.
Jyotirmoy received his bachelor’s degree with honours in microbiology from the Institute of Genetic Engineering, Kolkata, India with a primary focus on multi-drug resistant bacteria. He received his MS degree in molecular microbiology from the department of Plant Sciences at the Hyderabad Central University, Hyderabad, India under the supervision of Dr. Sarada Tetali and Dr. S. Rajagopal.

Alexandra Teodor, BS.
Genome Science and Technology

Alex joined the Bruce lab in early 2017. Her graduate research focuses on enhancing in vitro rates of redox activity of the photosynthetic Photosystem I reaction center complex for increasing sustainable production of electrical energy from sunlight in bio-hybrid photovoltaic cells. To reach this goal, she is studying native, non-native, and small-molecule synthetic redox mediators and how to enhance their Photosystem I reduction rates using a combination of biochemical, electrochemical, and biophysical techniques. Alex received her ASBMB-accredited BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2016 with a focus on analytical and physical chemistry. From there, she received a 2-year NIH training fellowship and started her PhD in the Genome Science and Technology graduate program at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Curriculum Vitae

Madeline (Maddie) Davis, BS
Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology

Maddie joined the Bruce Lab in May 2019. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2017 with a BS in biology and German. As an undergraduate, she investigated the role of myosin motor proteins in the movement of higher plant organelles. She returned to UT in 2018 to pursue her doctoral degree. She is currently researching the dimerization dynamics of Toc34, a GTPase of the translocon of the outer chloroplast membrane, using single molecule FRET (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer). She is also investigating chloroplast import of viroids, which are parasitic RNAs that exploit their hosts’ endogenous enzymes to replicate, accumulate, and eventually cause systemic infection in plants.

Curriculum Vitae

Claudia C. Villarreal, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica
Google Scholar

Dr. Villarreal is an assistant professor in the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica (TEC), where she obtained her Licenciatura degree in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) with emphasis in Microelectronics in 2010. She joined the Bionanotechnology group of Dr. Mulchandani at University of California Riverside in 2013 for MSE Ph.D. program, where she investigated the development of biophotovoltaics, and graduated in 2018. After her Ph.D., she returned to TEC and established the Biotronics group. Her research interests are those related to solving environmental and social problems in the field of energy generation and storage. Current activities involve fabrication and characterization of biophotovoltaic and battery devices incorporating sustainable materials like carbon nanomaterials and the protein bacteriorhodopsin with an electrochemical approach for nanofabrication and device testing. Since 2012, she is the founder and director of Biogas Para Todos, providing a diverse set of services for this renewable energy sector, including the development of advanced materials for biorefining.

Michael Vaughn, PhD.
Staff Scientist at Bio-logic USA, LLC

Prakitchai (Non) Chotewutmontri, PhD.
Research Associate, Barkan Lab, Institute of Molecular Biology
University of Oregon

Undergraduate Students

Kara Delbridge
Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology

Kara is an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the University of Tennessee in the Bruce Lab. She started as a sophomore, but now is a junior whose past laboratory projects include optimization of a PSI FluorCam for high sample throughput via custom well plates and light distribution tests. However, Kara also interest in MATLAB coding and Image Analysis. She loves working in the lab for many reasons, one of which is because it has opened up so many options for my future, but most of all, because it is such a great environment for learning.

Truc Le
Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology

Truc is currently an undergraduate research assistant in the Bruce Lab. She’s pursuing a Bachelor of Science majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Tennessee. She joined the lab her sophomore year and has spent her time in the lab working along Jyotirmoy Mondal on the aquatic plant, duckweed, to explore the protective properties of polyamines on duckweed against abiotic stress.

Katarina Micin
Biochemistry, Cellular & Molecular Biology

Katarina is a rising senior who joined the Bruce lab spring semester 2019. She is currently working as a summer research assistant and primarily works on maintaining cultures of thermophilic cyanobacteria like Chroococidiopsis TS-821 and Thermosynechococcus elongates BP-1. She is learning tools like gel electrophoresis and western blotting, and is also investigating the optimum conditions for long term preservation of cyanobacteria.

Former Members
Robert Mynatt
Former CMDB MS Student (1998)

After graduation, he got his MD from University of Tennessee. He currently practices Otolaryngology in Chattanooga, TN.
Dr. Robert Ivey III
Former BCMB PhD Student (2000)

After graduation, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Currently, he is the director of fermentation at Osprey Biotechnics. He also a co-Founder & a senior consultant for ChemBio Scientific Consulting, Sarasota, FL
Dr. Carole Dabney-Smith
Former BCMB PhD Student (2001)

Carole was a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Kenneth Cline's Lab at University of Florida from 2001-08. Currently, she is an assistant professor at Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Miami University, Oxford, OH. Her research focus on protein sorting related to organelle biogenesis in chloroplasts & mitochondria.
Dr. Chitra Subramanian
Former Plant Physiology & Genetics PhD Student (2001)

After she graduated she worked as a post-doctoral fellow for Dr.Albrecht von Arnim at BCMB department. She is now a post-doctoral fellow at Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
Dr. Huixia Zhang
Former BCMB Master Student (2003)

Huixia recieved a PhD from University of Washington, Seattle and currently is a Visiting Associate at Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Silver Spring, MD
Katherine Smith
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student

She is currently completing her MS in Nutrition and Rural Development. Her plan is to become a Osteopathic doctor doing community health work in the future. She is also a world traveler, mushroom hunter, and strange dresser. She is now living in Gent, Belgium

Charity A. Olson-Stratton
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student

Charity attended graduate school at the University of Utah, and is currently living in the LA valley. She teaches extra-curricular science classes for preschool and elementary aged children

Dr. Qiang Wang
Former Post-doctoral Fellow

He is currently work as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Katherine Osteryoung at Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Former BCMB PhD Student
Sarah J. Wright
Former Botany Master Student (2006)

Sarah Wright is a Biodiversity Information Specialist for the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII,, a collaborative program managed by the U.S. Geological Survey, whose mission is to provide increased access to data and information on the nation's biological resources. Her responsibilities include planning, analysis, evaluation and development of new tools and resources to integrate and manage biological content and supporting data. Sarah has a BS in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology, an MS in Botany, and an MS in Information Science.
Dr. David McWilliams
Former GST PhD Student (2007)

David worked as a research chemist for Chem Tech in Charlott, NC after he graduated. He is currently a research scientist at Gnomic Science
Ian M. Campbell
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student (2008)

Ian is currently a MD/PhD Student at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Letitia Olson
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student (2008)

Letitia has always been interested in medically related research. She is now working with Dr. Cynthia Peterson at BCMB Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.
Michael D. Vaughn
Former Lab Technician

Michael is continuing work on applied photosynthesis. He is currently a PhD Student in Biochemistry in Dr.Thomas Moore's Lab at Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Will Crenshaw
Former BCMB Master Student (2009)

After graduatioin Will moved to California where he finished a Master Brewery program at UC Davis. He currently work as a Brewer at Sweetwater Brewery, Atlanta, GA

Dr. L. Evan Reddick
Former BCMB PhD Student (2010)

Evan is now a post-doctoral fellow in the Lab of Dr.Neal Alto at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. His research focuses on understanding the mechanism of a variety of pathogenic factors secreted by E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella.
Ashita Dave
Former BCMB MS Student (2010)

Ashita studied the Toc translocon protein channel, Toc75. She is now working as a Biological Science Technician at USDA/ARS.
Dr. Ifeyinwa Iwuchukwu
Former Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering PhD Student (2010)

In our lab, Ify improved the electron transport between Photosystem I from a thermophillic cyanobacteria and a hydrogenase enzyme by engineering a fusion between these two proteins. Her work was published in Nature Nanotech. She is currently continuing here research in hydrogenase as a post-doctoral fellow in laboratory of Dr. Michael W. W. Adams at University of Gorgia
Nathan Williams
Former Kinesiology Undergraduate Student (2011)

He worked with us in 2009-10, mainly, to facilitate many graduate students in their researches. Currently at UT Memphis Medical School.
Lauren Johnson
Former Chem & Biomolec Engineering & Chemistry Undergraduate Student (2011)

Joined Bruce Lab in mid-2009. Work with PSI & PSII.
Aaron Mauner
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student (2011)

Joined the lab in August of 2009. In cooperation with the Powell-Hallsdale Utilities Board, him and Danielle worked on the bioremediation of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater using different algal and cyanobacterial strains. He plans to matriculate into a MD/PhD program and eventually become a oncological research physician.
Lauren Creasor
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student (2011)

Lauren joined the Bruce laboratory in September 2009. She worked on cryopreservation of the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus BP-1. Working with Danielle, she also performed diagnostic PCR to confirm PSI mutations. Lauren plans on pursuing a career as a physician's assistant.
Harrison Florida
BCMB Undergraduate Student

Harrison joined us in May of 2010. He worked to maintain the airlift fermenters in which large cultures of T. elongatus BP-1 are harvested. He also worked with Danielle on various aspects of Chroococcidiopsis sp. TS-821, including culture maintenance and the eventual first attempt to transform this cyanobacterium. Harrison plans on attending medical school after traveling for a year following graduation in the spring of 2011.
John Bouchillon
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student (2011)

John joined the Bruce laboratory in the spring of 2010. Working with Danielle, he studied the alkane biosynthesis pathway in cyanobacteria, with a primary focus on the genes responsible for the acyl-ACP reductase and aldehyde decarbonylase in this pathway. John plans on attending medical school following graduation in the spring of 2011.
Emily Ledet
High school student, Hardin Valley Academy

Joined the lab as part of the Pre-Collegiate Research Scholars Program in July 2011 Working with Meng Li on cytochrome crosslinking
James William Davis
BCMB Undergraduate Student

Will joined Bruce Lab in August 2010. With Non, he analyzed the function of psToc75 in vivo. His tasks involve molecular clonings, plant transformation and genotyping.
Danielle Harrell-Williams
Former Lab Technician

Danielle joined the Bruce laboratory as an undergraduate in January of 2009, and began her position as a technician immediately following graduation. Danielle works on various aspects of Chroococcidiopsis sp. TS-821 including phylogenetic classification, characterization of sugars produced by the organism, and monitoring growth in high levels of CO2 for potential carbon sequestration. She also works to maintain, confirm, and characterize mutations made to PSI of the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus BP-1. Danielle is currently study Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University.
Brendan Williams
Former Lab Technician

Brendan joined us in 2010. His primary work includes identifying and analyzing proteins using multiple mass spectrometry techniques. He is currently study Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University
Brooke Butler
Farragut High School

Brooke joined the lab in February 2010 as a member of the Farragut High School Science Club and initially worked to develop successful growth curves of T. elongatus BP-1 under various culture conditions with Danielle.
Caitlin Paquet
Former BCMB Undergraduate Student (2011) and Lab Technician

Caitlin performed expression, purification, and molecular biology techniques related to the cytochrome c553. She will be moving on to study Neuroscience at the graduate level.
Paul Willard
Former Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering MS student (2011)

With a degree in Microbiology, Paul, later recieved MS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His research was focused on the phycobilisome protein complex, a light harvesting antennae used in photosynthesis. He currently work as Research Associate at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
Jason Lancaster
Former BCMB Undergraduate student (2012)

Jason joined the Bruce lab in May 2011. He fused PSI subunit with a metal binding protein from a root nodule under Khoa supervision. Jason looks forward to graduate school and a career in plant defense and immunology.
Michelle Brown
Former BCMB Undergraduate student (2012)

Michelle joined the lab in August 2009, and is under the supervision of Richard. Michelle helps with the production of the transit peptide and POTRA domains.She plans to attend medical school.
John Greer
Former BCMB Undergraduate student (2012)

John joined Bruce lab in May 2011. He was working with the Hallsdale-Powell Utilities Board in the bioremediation of nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater. He plans to go to dental school after he graduates.
Jenna Schuettpelz
Lab Technician

Jenna joined the Bruce lab after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a dual major of Animal Science and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Apart from organizing the lab, her research work includes studying the transformation of the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus BP-1 by electroporation and natural transformation, generating BP-1 mutants, as well as maintaining and characterizing the mutants. Jenna plans on obtaining Masters in Marine Biology
Melissa Bigler
Former BCMB Undergraduate student (2012)

Melissa joined Bruce Lab in January of 2011. She worked with Meng on characterizing properties of PSI in Thermosynechococcus elongatus.
Daniel Phillips
Former BCMB Undergraduate student (2013)

Daniel joined the lab in the summer of 2012. He worked with Toc34 protein. After graduating from UT with a BS in biology, he plan to attend medical school.
Andrew Brandon
Former BCMB Undergraduate student (2013)

Andrew joined Bruce Lab in Summer 2012. He worked on the cross-linking of the proteins of photosynthesis for the efficient transfer of electrons in vitro. Andrew is pursuing his Ph. D. at UC Berkeley.
Natalie Myers
Former Lab Tech & Microbiology gradudate student

Natalie joined Bruce Lab in 2006. She worked with cytochrome. Later, Natalie moved to Arizona State University where she received her MS degree.
Adam Greeley
Former BCMB Undergraduate student

Adam joined Bruce lab in in August, 2012 and worked here until Fall 2013. He assisted several graduate student in preparation of photosystem I. Adam plans to attend medical school after graduating with a B.S. in biology.
Tuo Zhu
Former BCMB MS student (2014)

Tuo joined Bruce lab in 2011 and and recieved MS degree in 2014. Tuo utilized ferredoxin in an attempt to produce a hybrid photovoltaic. He is now working at GlaxoSmithKline in PA.
Jordan Bryner
Former Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering undergraduate student

Jordan joined Bruce lab in May 2011. He is primarily involved in the expression and purification of the protein cytochrome c553.
Amber Bassett
Former BCMB undergraduate student

Amber joined the Bruce Lab in summer 2012 and worked with Kristen focusing on Toc34 and transit peptides.
Louie (Lucas) Thal
Former BCMB undergraduate student

Louie joined the Bruce Lab in Fall, 2013 and maintained and harvested Thermosynechococcus elongatus cultures in preparation for PS I.
Dr. Prakitchai (Non) Chotewutmontri
Former GST PhD Student (2013) and BCMB Postdoc (2014)

Non rotated in Bruce lab in Fall 2006 and joined in Fall 2007. After received his PhD in 2013, he stayed another year in the lab as postdoctoral associate. His work focused on characterization of transit peptide recognitions by TOC translocon. He is currently, a postdoc in Alice Barkan lab at University of Oregon studying translation of maize genomes.
Gabriela (Gabi) Little
Former BCMB undergraduate student

She joined the Bruce Lab during the summer of 2014 and works with Richard to recombinantly produce, purify, and determine the structures of POTRA Domains of Toc75 from pea plants.
Dr. Richard Simmerman
Former BCMB PhD (2015)

Richard grew up in Knoxville, TN and earned his B.S. in BCMB at the University of Tennessee in 2005. Richard joined the Bruce lab in 2006 and earned an M.S. in BCMB in 2011 while working with Toc75, the core protein of the general import pathway. Richard swithced to work on mutating PSI and a hydrogenase and received his Ph.D. in 2015.
Dr. Rosemary Le
Former Biomolecular Engineering PhD (2015)

Rosemary's undergraduate work was focused on utilizing microorganisms to remediate the environment. She received a BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State University with minor in Biotechnology. She joined STAIR program in 2009 and pursuing PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Ridge Carter
Former Lab Technician

Ridge received his bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Maryville College. Apart from organizing the lab, his research includes preparation and characterization of photosystem I from various organisms including spinach and Thermosynechococcus elongatus. He also maintained cultures, fermenters, and Barry.
Dr. Kristen Holbrook (Resume)
Former BCMB PhD (2016)

Kristen is a 2016 graduate of the Bruce lab. After completing her PhD, she worked on metal accumulation dynamics as a post-doc in the laboratory of Sabeeha Merchant at UCLA. In September 2018, she accepted a position as a Scientist at Amgen in Thousand Oaks, CA. Her role currently focuses on the design and implementation of nonclinical toxicology and safety studies for early lead through clinical targets.
Dr. Khoa Nguyen
Former BCMB PhD (2016)

Khoa involved in a project attempting to produce H2 via water photolysis in algae and cyanobacteria. His contributions include cloning and mutagenesis of Photosystem I subunits from the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus, transformation of T. elongatus, screening for homologous recombination, and isolation of the mutant Photosystem I complexes which then can be functionally characterized through electrochemical and photochemical assays. He recieved his Ph.D. in 2016.
Dr. Meng Li
Former BCMB PhD (2016)

Meng is from Hunan province in Southern China. He joined Bruce Lab in 2011, worked on the tetrameric PS I and graduated in 2016. He is now a postdoc in Helmut Kirchhoff's lab at Washington State University. His current work focus on dynamic of photosynthetic membranes.
Deepika Nambiar
Former BCMB PhD

Received her Bachelor's and Master's degree in Microbiology from University of Mumbai, India. She joined Bruce Lab in Summer 2012 and worked on phycobiliproteins.

Angela Gilley
Former Outreach Coordinator

Angela received her B.S. in Animal Science with a Minor in Biology at UTK, and a M.Ed. in Secondary Science Education at Lincoln Memorial University. She spent a semester doing research in our lab and was a coordinator for TN-SCORE program.

Jonathan Nguyen
Former BCMB Undergrad and Lab Technician

Jon is a former undergraduate research assistant and lab technician of the Bruce Lab. As an undergraduate, he spent his last two years working with another former member, Dr. Meng Li, on characterizing the tetrameric oligomer of photosystem I from the cyanobacteria Chroococcidiopsis sp. TS-821 and Fischerella sp. PCC 7414. After graduating with his BS in BCMB in Fall 2016, Jon continued to work in the lab as a technician, while applying to graduate schools. During this time, he worked with the aquatic plant, duckweed (Lemna minor 370 and Spirodella polyrhiza 432). With the help of another graduate student, Jyotirmoy Mondal, they observed the plant-microbe interactions of duckweed and non-pathogenic bacteria referred to as “duckweed associated bacteria”. Jon is now currently a graduate student at Arizona State University, advised by Dr. Abhishek Singharoy and Dr. Petra Fromme.

Jacob Cecil (Resume)
Former BCMB Undergrad

Jacob is a former undergraduate student in the Bruce Lab. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, he attended the University of Tennessee where he received his Bachelor of Science in 2017. Jacob worked in the Bruce lab during 2017 on a project characterizing mutants of T. elongatus ferredoxin which hold promise for use in TiO2 photovoltaic cells. Jacob is currently a graduate student at the University of Arizona under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Capaldi.



© Bruce Lab  |  Last Updated October 2014