As a child born and raised in India, I never questioned the law of karma; every action must have a reaction. The ideology of Karma emphasizes that cause and effect of a person’s action control everything in life including health and wealth of an individual. However, I began to doubt this ideology when I study Biochemistry in my undergraduate and realized that there must be something about the genetic makeup of the individual that allowed them to thrive. Are genetic diseases a manifestation of karma? Or health is dependent on both karma and gene? If it is purely genetic, then which genes and chemical molecules dictate the life transforming differences? My desire to find answers for these questions encouraged me to pursue career in research so that I can understand the pathway that regulate life and how its infringement often lead to different kind of diseases. My interest in the importance of supramolecular structures, assemblies and interactions in the functioning of the cell developed during the last year, while I have been working as a master’s student in Structural Biology lab.
I find structure investigation highly appealing because it provides an excellent opportunity for the application of modern physics, biochemistry and computational techniques. In addition, studying chemical structures is very important because they provide insights into the way molecule works. Currently, I am working in Dr. Ansgar Siemer’s lab at University Of Southern California. The ultimate goal of our research is to understand the pathological and functional aspect of protein aggregation using Solid state NMR as a tool. The goal of my master’s thesis involves reducing spectral overlap and ambiguities in the NMR spectra of the Orb2A protein by only isotope labeling the first 88 out of about 550 amino acid residues. I am trying accomplishing this goal by using split-inteins that can link two separately expressed and purified proteins together. Working there not only enhances my knowledge about protein purification techniques and strengths and limitation of structural investigations by Magic angle spinning.
But also gave me realistic view of working full-time in the laboratory setting, made me confident as an independent researcher and helped solidify my decision to attend graduate school. At University Of Southern California, I engaged in the PhD- level courses that would best prepare for the future in the graduate school. A very valuable experience in the graduate courses was “Toolbox of Molecular Biology” and “Special Topics”, where I learned how to ask scientific questions by formulating and testing hypotheses, experimental design, and how to communicate my results effectively. The focus of master’s program was exclusively molecular and generally focused on the mechanisms of human disease. I believe that completing PhD level courses in biochemistry and molecular Biology with A- gave me exceptionally solid background to make useful contributions at XXX graduate program.
During my undergraduate, I enrolled in Biotechnology at Panjab University, which is ranked as #2 University in India by US news and Nation. I was selected for the prestigious “State Bank of India fellowship” and “Panjab University academic scholarship” for academic excellence. As a junior, I began a research project in Dr. Mary Chatterjee’s lab, where I worked for three years to investigate the ability of C. parapsilosis to produce biosurfactant and its biomedical application. Furthermore, I gained a grant writing skill when I successfully applied for research grant by TEQIP (Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme) in our university. Since writing grant proposals is an important part of my future carrier, this experience was very useful. At the end of the undergraduate, I presented a talk at research symposium summarizing my results.
I also presented my results in an academic poster session at CHASCON, international conference and won an award. In addition to my research experience at Panjab University, I was also fortunate to be selected in the CSIO’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program because there were more than 30 applicants and I was the only one selected. I was excited to have the opportunity to work in the Biophysics lab with Dr. Inderpreet Kaur, who studies advance nanostructures for sensing application. The ultimate goal of the project was using Graphene quantum dots (GQD) FRET based sensors for detection of heart attack. One of the most challenging tasks in this project was to covalently conjugate antibody with GQDs.
It was combination of thorough theoretical analysis of GQD’s spectral properties and experimental examination, we finally found the right condition. Through this project, I learned how to work independently, plan experiments, read technical literature, analyzing results, and troubleshoot problems. Moving towards graduate school, I want to pursue my studies at xxx University because I would be interested in working with (name and research). Dr. XXXX also caught my attention with his/her work on. Dr. xxx work on. Because of my background and interests I have much to contribute to the program, while at the same time I am eager to expand my knowledge and skill set in the field of structural biology. I firmly believe that the XXXX program will successfully prepare me for my future career.