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Profile: Krystal Fontaine, PhD

Krystal Fontaine
Krystal Fontaine, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Melanie Ott, MD, PhD. She joined Gladstone after completing her graduate studies in microbiology at the University of Washington.

What brought you to Gladstone?

While in graduate school, I heard about Gladstone’s reputation for providing exceptional training to its postdoctoral scholars. At the time, I was studying how viruses manipulate host cell metabolism to support their replication. I decided that for my postdoctoral research, I wanted to continue studying how viruses interact with their host, but on a molecular level. As Melanie Ott is a leader in the field of molecular virology, her lab became my top choice for postdoctoral training. The combination of the Ott lab and Gladstone just simply could not be beat.

What do you like about Gladstone?

I love the Gladstone community and feel incredibly lucky to work alongside such a great group of scientists and individuals. As a member and one of the current co-chairs of the Gladstone Postdoctoral Advisory Committee (GPAC), which serves to promote the professional and scientific development of postdocs at Gladstone, I am continually reminded of just how amazing an opportunity it is to be receiving my postdoctoral training here.

Were you interested in science as a child?

Absolutely. I think the turning point was when I received a microscope (I was thrilled!) one Christmas as a young girl. I guess you could say it was my first glance into the “unknown,” and I was completely hooked.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

Upon graduating with my BS in biotechnology, I joined the lab of Drs. Sharon Isern and Scott Michael at Florida Gulf Coast University as a research assistant. I owe such a great deal of my career and success to their extraordinary mentorship. I decided to go to graduate school, because I couldn’t imagine a life outside of science, and I wanted the chance to inspire future scientists to pursue such an exciting and rewarding career, in the way that I had been inspired to do so.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

This would involve going back in time, but I would have loved to have trained to become a professional ballet dancer. When asked what I would have chosen if not a career in science, it would easily be ballet.

What is your hidden/unique talent?

I’m not sure how hidden this talent is, but I am a cat whisperer. I would like to think that this is very different from being a crazy cat lady. When I was younger, this would involve me bringing home stray cats and convincing different members of my family to adopt them. While I was a graduate student in Seattle, I took this mission more seriously and served on the board of a local cat rescue. It’s been a longstanding commitment of mine to help find good homes for cats in need, and I hope to continue such work throughout my life.

Name one thing that not many people know about you.

My love for biology actually started in forensic science. I began my undergraduate career pursuing a degree in forensic biochemistry, but I eventually realized that I was more interested in the biology rather than the criminology. Fast forward a couple of years to when I was introduced to the fascinating field of virology, and I’ve been home ever since.

If you could meet any scientist from any point in time, who would it be and why?

This is a difficult question, but I think I would choose Charles Darwin. Specifically, I would want to meet him post-explorations, while he was compiling all of the evidence he had gathered over the years to support his theory of evolution. Can you imagine? I can, and it would be a great conversation.