Areas of Study
Email Address
Taylor Science Center 2066 (Lab 2063)

Rhea Datta is a developmental geneticist and molecular biologist. Her research focuses on how proteins distinguish between specific DNA-binding sequences to regulate gene expression. Specifically, her work on gene regulation addresses biological processes during eye and embryo development, ranging from neurodevelopment to tissue patterning. Datta has published in Genes and Development, eLife, Current Biology, Developmental Biology, Evolution and Development and other peer-reviewed journals. She is member of the Genetics Society of America, Society for Developmental Biology, and American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Prior to joining the faculty at Hamilton, Datta was a Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University. Datta has taught at NYU, Indiana University, and Sarah Lawrence College. Datta is committed to increasing representation within STEM communities.  She strives to foster an inclusive learning environment, and is committed to developing innovative ways to teach and mentor young scientists at Hamilton.

Recent Courses Taught

Developmental Genetics
Mechanisms of Developmental Evolution
Explorations in Biology: Genes, Patterns, and Embryos
Seminar in Gene Regulation and Epigenetics
Senior Thesis I and II

Select Publications

  • Datta RR, Onal P. 2022. In Situ Hybridization as a Method to Examine Gene Regulatory Activity In Vivo. Methods Mol Biol. 2023;2599:241-254. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-2847-8_17. PMID: 36427154
  • Jens Rister and Rhea R. Datta. 2022. Palindrome. Reference Module in Life Sciences. Elsevier, 2022, ISBN 9780128096338. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-822563-9.00065-2.
  • Datta RR, Rister J. 2022. The power of the (imperfect) palindrome: Sequence-specific roles of palindromic motifs in gene regulation. Bioessays. Apr;44(4):e2100191. doi: 10.1002/bies.202100191. Epub 2022 Feb 23. PMID: 35195290; PMCID: PMC8957550.
  • Liu,. Q*., Onal, P*., Datta, RR*., Thornton, J., Bulyk, ML., and Small, SJ. 2018 Ancient mechanisms for the evolution of the bicoid homeodomain's function in fly development. eLife. 2018. 7:e34594. (*denotes first author with equal contributions) (PRESS RELEASE)
  • Datta, RR, Ling, J., Kurland, J., Ren, X., Xu, Z., Yucel, G., Moore, J., Shokri, L., Baker, I., Bishop, T., Struffi, P., Levina, R^., Bulyk, ML., Johnston, RJ., and Small, S. 2018. A Feed-forward Relay between Bicoid and Orthodenticle Regulates the Timing of Embryonic Patterning in Drosophila. Genes and Development 32(9-10):723-736. (^denotes undergraduate author) (PRESS RELEASE)
  •  “A Last Meander” - review of A River of Consciousness, by Oliver Sacks. 2018. The Cooper Square Review of Science, Medicine, and Technology (New York University Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute).
  • “The Power of Palindromes” - review of A Crack in Creation, by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg. 2017. The Cooper Square Review of Science, Medicine, and Technology (New York University Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute).
  • Datta, RR. and Small, S. 2011. Gene regulation: Piecing together the puzzle of enhancer evolution. Current Biology 21(14):R542-3.
  • Datta, RR., Weasner, BP., and Kumar, JP. 2011. A dissection of the teashirt and tiptop genes reveals a novel mechanism for regulating transcription factor activity. Developmental Biology 360(2):391-402.
  • Datta, RR., Cruickshank, T., and Kumar, JP. 2011. Differential selection within the Drosophila retinal determination network and evidence for functional divergence between paralog pairs. Evolution and Development 13(1):58-71.
  • Datta, RR., Lurye, JM^., and Kumar, JP. 2009. Restriction of ectopic eye formation by Drosophila teashirt and tiptop to the developing antenna. Developmental Dynamics 238:2202–2210. (^denotes undergraduate author)

Professional Affiliations

Genetics Society of America
Society for Developmental Biology
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., Indiana University
B.A., Macalester College

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