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Surya T

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley)


Microbial genetics | Microbial genomics | Computational biology| Microbial role in human health and disease | Genetic engineering | Molecular and Cellular biology


I am a bioengineer with research interest in microbiology. I completed my bachelor's degree in bioengineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and have carried out research at Stanford as a research associate. Currently I am doing my PhD at UC Berkeley. As a Berkeley graduate student, I engineer microbes to improve human health and potentially treat human diseases. In my free time, I love to meditate, explore, discover, create, and rejoice life :)

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Developing a safe therapy for treating Pseudomonas infections

One of my students at Polygence completed this project-she came second in a national competition. Motivation:- We should lower the use of antibiotics (used to treat infections) to reduce multi-drug resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a lung pathogen). Hypothesis:- A combinational therapy using N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) (which is an antioxidant) and Carvacrol (phenolic compound) will inhibit Pseudomonas biofilm by more than half. Experiments:- Treated Pseudomonas biofilms with different concentrations of NAG and Carvacrol in isolation and in combination. Obtained a single optimal concentration of NAG and Carvacrol and combined these two treatments. This combinational therapy inhibited biofilm formation by 70-90%. Also tested the toxicity of treatment on C. elegans. Conclusion:- Combinational therapy of NAG at 10% and Carvacrol at 1% inhibited Pseudomonas biofilm formation in-vitro by more than half and is not cytotoxic as it did not affect C. elegans in a plate.

Understanding off-target effects of the antimicrobial agent SUPER-TWIG

This is one of my current projects as of right now at Polygence. This project is on finding off target effects of a drug. Here is what my student submitted at the end of the 3rd session with me: "This project will look at some of the off target effects of using a toxin inhibitor. We will start this journey by learning the tools for molecular docking. We will then look at proteins similar in structure to this particular SHX toxin and find regions of homology and see if the proteins are able to dock the ligand similarly, or if they dock at all? What does it take to dock it? What is the efficiency of binding? The project is fully computational, will make predictions, that can be tested by someone else in the future."

Coding skills

Python, R, HTML, CSS

Languages I know

French, Spanish, Hindi

Teaching experience

I have already taught three students at Polygence, one of whom, came national second in her project display. I have mentored a summer project on continuous monitoring of glucose and ketone in Nepal through a summer venture program that we founded. I tutored introductory biology class to a group of 10-20 freshman in college at MIT. We went over topics that were covered during lectures. Students were allowed to choose particular areas to focus on and I would design my sessions tailored towards those topics. I love teaching and being able to help my students with any queries they have.


Work experience

Koch Institute of Cancer Research (2016 - 2018)
Research assistant
Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT (2017 - 2018)
Research assistant
Stanford University, School of Medicine (2018 - 2020)
Research Associate
Polygence (2020 - Current)


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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