Faculty of Science

Research profile: Brinda Prasad, Chemistry

September 15, 2011

Brinda Prasad's work in SFU's Department of Chemistry has taken her around the world.

She completed her undergraduate degree in organic chemistry at Aurora's Degree College, Hyderabad, and then her master's degree at the University of Pune, India. She is grateful to her mentors in India, who helped open doors for her to come to SFU in 2008 for her PhD research.

In spring 2010, she received a Graduate International Research Travel Award from SFU. This funding took her to RWTH Aachen University, in Germany, to work on a collaborative project at Dr. Schwaneberg’s lab, where she learned the molecular biology technique called ‘SeSaM’. She says, "The objective of this project involved the engineering of active site of P450 to expand its catalytic ability. I was successful in making a mutant library for P450 which I plan to screen on various substrates."

Currently part of the Plettner Research Group at SFU, she works on an enzyme called cytochrome P450cam which catalyzes a very difficult reaction: the insertion of oxygen from air into a carbon hydrogen bond.

Brinda says, "In our lab, we discovered that this enzyme can also catalyze the reduction reaction of the natural substrate, camphor, which surprised us. My research involved the enzymatic assays under different conditions and proving the new discovery. I was the first author on two articles published so far, one in Analytical Chemistry, one of the top ACS journals, and theother in the Journal of Chemical Ecology. I am currently working on a third manuscript which will demonstrate the reduction mechanism of this enzyme."

She enjoys a good working relationship with her supervisor, Dr. Erika Plettner, describing her as patient and supportive. "She gives me a lot of time to think of different solutions to research problems and to learn new techniques."

Brinda has won a number of awards from SFU to support her work, including the SFU Bruker prize in Chemical Spectroscopy, Graduate Fellowships, and travel awards.

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