"It feels to great to be part of a highly motivated team with supportive lab members and supervisor."

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Student Profile: Priyanka Govindarajan

October 01, 2021
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Molecular Biology and Biochemistry master's student in the Faculty of Science

I am a Molecular Biology and Biochemistry graduate student. I grew up in India where I did my bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. I then worked as a software developer for 5 years before joining Dr. Larijani’s research lab as a master’s student. I study the evolution of a family of DNA/RNA mutating enzymes called the Activation-induced cytidine deaminases and related proteins in non-human species, their biochemistry and kinetics.  In my leisure time, I enjoy reading books, blogging, hiking and practicing Mandala.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I chose SFU for its reputation for top research, renowned faculty and the multicultural atmosphere. I believe that SFU is a place full of opportunities for students like me who aspire to widen their learning sphere and develop multi-dimensional knowledge. I have been passionate about biotechnology since high school. Though I hold an undergraduate degree in the field, I also have experience working in software development and maintenance for a couple of years. When I decided to pursue my master's degree, I was looking to conduct multidisciplinary research. Dr. Larijani’s lab had established an integrated approach involving biochemistry, computational & structural biology, molecular biology as well as evolutionary biology which inspired me to join his team.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

We all know that we inherit our genetic information from our parents. Interestingly, we also house a mechanism involving a family of proteins called the AID/APOBECs which primarily modify the genetic code in a specific type of immune cells called the lymphocytes. These proteins edit the genes involved in eliciting an effective immune response against a wide variety of pathogens that attempt to invade our body every day. We, at Dr. Larijani’s lab, focus our research on these proteins isolated from humans as well as other species. My research particularly aims at studying AID/APOBEC-like enzymes from non-vertebrate species, their functions and other features to understand how they evolved over time which would in turn shed light on the evolution of our immune system.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

It feels to great to be part of a highly motivated team with supportive lab members and supervisor. In addition to it, for me learning something new every day is by itself a very uplifting and an exciting experience which I enjoy the most here.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I received the Special Graduate Entrance Scholarship for Spring 2021 and Graduate Student Fellowship for Fall 2021 at SFU.

During my undergrad, I was also the recipient of the IASc-INSA-NASI Summer Research Fellowship in India which gave me the opportunity to work with fellows of the academy and other peer researchers.

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