|Divya G. Shastry
Biochemistry & Biophysics
With so many members of my family being doctors, engineers, and scientists, I always knew that I would pursue further education after getting an undergraduate degree. The Accelerated BS/PhD program allows me to actively and realistically pursue the idea of obtaining a PhD by the time I am 25. I have always been interested in the biological sciences and at RPI, I feel that the interdisciplinary approach taken allows me to have an integrated research experience.
Since my father received a master’s degree and PhD from RPI and my sister received a bachelor’s degree from here, I luckily had a great deal of information about RPI before and after starting here as an undergrad. When I heard about the Accelerated PhD program, I decided to take a shot and apply, figuring that there was no way I could go wrong if I did end up continuing my education here. An aspect of the program that appealed to me, in addition to its accelerated nature, is the idea of starting research early with a fixed goal in mind.
This year, I’ve been doing rotations in different labs to get a feel for both the research that the labs are involved in as well as the various lab environments. During the spring semester of my sophomore year, I completed a rotation in Dr. Robert Lindhart’s lab in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, where I was introduced to a project involving the use of surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy in determining the effects of metal ions on heparin-protein interactions. I continued my rotations over the summer, spending half of my summer in Dr. Pankaj Karande’s lab in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and half in Dr. Patrick Maxwell’s lab in the Biology Department. In Dr. Karande’s lab, the project I was introduced to involved targeted drug delivery to the brain through the blood brain barrier. Dr. Maxwell’s lab aims to understand the role of genome instability in aging, using yeast as the model organism.
During the semester, I am involved in the Women’s Mentor Program, Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society, Indian Student’s Association, and work as an undergraduate teaching assistant for Physics II. Outside of academics, I am also a member of RPI’s symphonic band, where I play the flute.
Through the accelerated program, I feel that I can be a part of the quest to understand how the world worksin anything from uncovering minute mechanisms in a cell to taking a step in the large war against cancerin an exciting and unique research opportunity.