Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton University
February 2021 - Present
Presently, I study how light interacts with biological polymers called microtubules. Microtubules are typically studied for the structural roles that they play in the cell. However, I am interested in investigating the possibility of bioelectrical communication through these structures. Such work will allow us to understand the feasibility of photonics playing nontrivial roles in biology.
Doctor of Philiosophy, University of Alberta
May 2017 - December 2020
I worked at the University of Alberta as a Ph.D student under the supervision of Prof. Jack Tuszyński. My experience was strongly multidisciplinary, ranging from performing in vitro fluorescence assays to measuring the ionic conductivity surrounding biological nanowires. I used both biochemical tools (such as fluorescence microscopy and protein conjugation) and approaches from materials science (such as photoluminescence spectroscopy and impedance spectroscopy) in this time. Having a Ph.D. project that let me pursue my passion for multidisciplinary work, with superb mentors, was one amazing experience.
We used a double-functionalized, pH sensitive fluorophore to demonstrate that when compared to buffer solution, microtubules significantly lower their local pH value, acting as hotspots proton storage. Such behaviour was maintained as a function of solution pH value, and depended on tubulin polymerization state.
Using physiologically relevant tubulin and ionic concentrations, we demonstrated that microtubules enhance solution capacitance while free tubulin does not. Our results validate previous models on the charge storage properties of microtubules.
To examine the interactions of tubulin with its’ surroundings, we conducted measurements on hydrodynamic radius and zeta potential in various solvents. We displayed that the physiologically negatively charged tubulin becomes positively charged in the presence of DMSO as a solvent. We also used fluorescence microscopy on tubulin polymorphs in the presence of an electrophoretic force to showed that the positive charge is associated with tubulin oligomerization, eventually causing the formation of tubulin sheets and aggregates with increasing percentages of DMSO in solution.
Master of Science, McGill University, Montréal, Canada
January 2015 - April 2017
I researched how microtubule dynamics responds to the presence of Microtubule Associated Proteins (MAPs). I successfully purified proteins such as Kinesin-1 and Doublecortin from bacterial sources. I learnt and performed several experiments using TIRF (Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence) microscopy, to image MAPs (microtubule associated proteins) and quantify microtubule dynamics. I showed that the rate of every step leading to microtubule catastrophe is increased in the presence of the MAP, Doublecortin.
On the computational side, I developed MANTIS (Microtubule Tracking and Analysis Software), which is a MATLAB script to measure microtubule dynamics from a stack of images or a movie in a fluorescence microscopy experiment. I validated the working of MANTIS by simulating microtubule growth as a random-walk-with-drift process.
Bachelor of Science, Dayalbagh, India
June 2011 - May 2014
My undergraduate work in chemistry exposed me to microtubules for the first time. Pleasant walks, peacocks and tasty morsels from the local bakery lit up what became a formative part of my life. I will never forget the first formal talk I gave here (as a 17 year old) on "microtubule structure and function"!