|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 School of Science 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 biological engineering and at RPI, I feel that the interdisciplinary approach to research allows me to have an integrated experience: here, I can both do science as well as see the direct application of my research.
Since my father received Master's and PhD degrees 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: the idea of starting research early with a fixed goal in mind strongly appealed to me.
After completing rotations in the labs of Dr. Robert Linhardt and Dr. Patrick Maxwell, I joined Dr. Pankaj Karande's lab in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering last year (at the beginning of my junior year), where I am co-advised by Dr. Karande and Dr. Linhardt. During my rotation in the Karande lab, I was introduced to a project involving targeted drug delivery through the blood brain barrier. My current work, funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, involves the design and study of peptides for the recognition of biochemical elements in targeted protein states. This work can lead to insights in the structural biochemistry of proteins as well as have biosensing applications. I have also been involved with the development of peptide affinity ligands for purification and analysis of biologics and have continued to work on an aspect of the blood-brain barrier project involved in E. coli expression of Beta Nerve Growth Factor.
Outside of research, I have been involved with the Women's Mentor Program, Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society, and the Indian Student's Association. I am also a member of RPI's symphonic band, where I play the flute. In my free time I enjoy reading, writing, and spending time with my sister.
Through the Accelerated Program, I feel that I can be a part of the quest to understand how the world works - in anything from uncovering minute mechanisms in a cell to taking a step in the large war against cancer - in an exciting and unique research opportunity.