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Mission

To empower people from grassroots of the society through science and education

My life mission is to contribute to the ever-growing scientific body of knowledge; communicate the scientific knowledge effectively to grass roots of the society; empower the underprivileged in the society through science education and advocate for science based policy making. With the present challenges that human kind is facing such as climate change and COVID-19 pandemic, I believe the need for 'science based leadership' is more than ever. 

Skills
  • RNA-seq and Methyl RAD analyses in High Performance Computing and R. 

  • SEM-EBSD (Scanning Electron Microscopy - Electron Back Scatter Diffraction)

  • Vicker's hardness test

  • TGA - Thermal Gravimetric Analysis

  • Standard molecular and microbiology techniques

  • Oyster aquaculture

  • Science Communication - English and Tamil (Indian regional language)

Education

2016 - 2021

PhD (Biological Sciences)

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10 + years old Hong Kong oyster shell

School of Biological Sciences & The Swire Institute of Marine Science, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR. 

  • Thesis title: Oyster biomineralization under ocean acidification: from genes to shell

  • The aim of my PhD research is to understand the molecular changes occurring in the biochemical process of biomineralization in invertebrates, under ocean acidification​ scenario. 

  • Biomineralization is the process by which invertebrates such as oysters form their shells and vertebrates such as humans form their bones and teeth. 

  • Model organism: Hong Kong Oyster (Crassostrea hongkongensis / renamed as Magallana hongkongensis)

  • I used a combination of molecular omics techniques (such as RNA-seq, Methyl-RAD) and material characterization techniques such as (Scanning Electron Microscopy - Electron Back Scatter Diffraction and micro hardness tests) to understand changes in DNA methylation, gene expression and shell mechanical properties.  

  • Being a trained bio-technologist, with no prior marine biology experience, learning oyster aquaculture was the most challenging part of my PhD journey.

2014 - 2016

M. Tech (Biotechnology)

Centre for Biotechnology, Alagappa College of Technology, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

  • Degree Classification: Distinction with CGPA 8.71/10

  • Thesis: Synthesis of halogenated porphyrins and understanding their interaction with proteins. 

  • M. Tech scholarship (2014 – 2016) from Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, based
    on the All India Ranking in the Combined Entrance Exam for Biotechnology, conducted by Jawaharlal
    Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

2010 - 2014

B. Tech (Biotechnology)

Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi (affiliated to Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India)

  • Degree Classification: Distinction with CGPA - 8.93/10

  • Thesis: Identification of genetic markers for species specific diagnosis of Leptospira.

  • Scholarship for academic excellence awarded by Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi, Tamil
    Nadu, India in the years 2010, 2011, 2012.

Research Experience

December 2021 - (present)

Post doctoral Research Fellow

School of Biological Sciences & The Swire Institute of Marine Science, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR. 

  • Project 1: Shell repair mechanisms of oysters under ocean acidification 

  • Project 2: Molecular mechanisms involved in biomineralization under OA

June - August 2015

Research Fellow

With members of Dr Hong's research group

Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University, USA.

  • Supervisor: Dr Heedeok Hong, Associate Professor. 

  • The aim of the short summer project was to clone different constructs of fusion proteins with degrons (degradation tags) in pBAD/HisA expression vector, express and study the degradation of these protein constructs by FtsH which is a membrane integrated ATP-dependent E.coli protease. 

  •  This project was a part of a long term project aiming to understand mechanism of membrane protein degradation using FtsH protease as a model protein degradation machine. 

  • This fellowship was my first experience outside home country, hence I consider this as an important turning point in my career.  

June - July 2013 

Research Fellow

Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.

  • The aim of the short summer internship project was to assist in screening of cervical cell samples for HPV16 (Human Papilloma Virus) infection using PCR and developing a bacterial system for checking activity of Zinc Finger Nucleases (ZFNs).

  • This project was part of a long term project studying Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical cancer. 

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Awards

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Constance Boone Award for best student presentation at American Malacological Society (AMS) Virtual Annual Meeting 2021

  • Annual meeting of AMS - June 18, 2021. 

  • For presenting findings from PhD research on oyster biomineralization under ocean acidification. 

  • The award is named for the late Constance Boone, a past president of the Society, past president of the Houston Conchological Society, co-editor of Texas Conchologist. A long-time associate in the Malacology Department of the Houston Museum of Natural Science and a strong supporter of students, Constance was a vital force in American Malacology. Students’ oral and poster contributions are evaluated based on the clarity of the presentation and the abstract, scientific merit, and the student’s ability to answer questions concerning the presentation.

Online People's Choice Award, HKU 3 Minute Thesis competition (3 MT), 2020. 

  • Three minute thesis competition challenges PhD students to present their years worth of research in just three minutes, without any use of jargon, using layman terms. It aims to improve academic presentation and science communication skills. 

  • I presented a snapshot of my thesis in three minutes, it was a very challenging and enriching experience! 

  • Watch my talk in the HKU finals 'here'. 

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At the award presentation ceremony with supervisor and lab members

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With the participants of EBSD workshop 

Featured in HKU review booklet 2018 with fellow Universitas 21 award winners

First Prize – Best Paper award at GRAMMER 2019
  • Graduate Symposium on Marine Environmental Research, the City University of Hong Kong. 

  • For presenting PhD research findings on oyster biomineralization under ocean acidification

  • Criteria: Research findings, presentation skill.

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Universitas 21 – Graduate Collaborative Research Award worth USD 5800 (2018 – 2019)
 
  • To organize a workshop to teach  Scanning Electron Microscope - Electron Back Scatter Diffraction (EBSD) technique for material analysis to interested PhD students from three universities – The University of Hong Kong, University of British Columbia and University of Auckland and to perform a part of analysis of my PhD thesis.

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At the award presentation ceremony with Prof David Sedlak

Khorana Fellowship awarded by Indo – US Science & Technology Forum (June – August 2015)
 
  • Khorana fellowship is a prestigious summer research fellowship provided by Indo - US Science and Technology Forum, Department of Biotechnology - Government of India and Winstep forward - USA for promoting academic and scientific knowledge exchange between India and the USA.

  • Based on academic merit among all the applicants from India for the program. 

Summer Research Fellowship awarded by Indian Academy of Sciences (June – July 2013)
  • Awarded to Indian science students for performing a summer research project in one of the leading research institutes in the country. 

  • Based on academic merit among all the applicants from India for the program