Professor Rachel Dutton received her B.S. in Molecular Biology from UC San Diego, and completed her undergraduate thesis with Kit Pogliano on Bacillus subtilis sporulation. She completed her PhD with Jon Beckwith at Harvard Medical School, where she studied the diversity of disulfide bond formation in bacterial species, and identified a new pathway for disulfide bond formation which uses a homolog of the blood coagulation pathway in humans. Rachel eceived the ASM's Raymond Sarber Award for my thesis research. She then took a position as a Bauer Fellow at Harvard University, where she started a lab based on the use of cheese as a model system. In Sep 2015, she started as an Assistant Professor in Molecular Biology at UC San Diego.
Her lab has focused on the use of microbial communities from cheese as models due to their simplicity, culturability, and experimental tractability. These communities show reproducible and dynamic patterns of community formation which depend on widespread interactions between species. They are now developing genetic, cell biological, and chemical approaches to studying species interactions in this model microbial community. As with any model system, their goal is to gain insight into the workings of more complex systems.