Skip to main content


Nature is an excellent source of inspiration for scientists in the search for useful materials. There is an incredible and virtually unlimited diversity of natural products available for study. Our group is keenly interested in a protein material called “reflectin”. Reflectins are found naturally in the skin of squid and these protein polymers give rise to iridescent colored structures in these animals which aid them in sophisticated communication and camouflage behaviors. Reflectins are unusual in their composition and these natural polymers have very interesting spectral and optical properties. We are studying the unique structure of these materials in order to improve our understanding of how to control the colors of these materials. We have recently designed and synthesized a gene encoding reflectin and, though a collaboration with a research group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, we have achieved expression of the reflectin polymer in marine diatoms. Expression of reflectin in diatoms offers significant advantages over the current protocols for expression in bacterial host organisms. Future work will include characterization of reflectins in these unique marine algae. Faculty Adviser: Holly E. Carpenter Desai


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Event location
    • Library Technology Center David L. Potter Special Collections Room 382

  • Event date
    • 27 March 2012

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Holly E. Carpenter Desai