Student Spotlight

Sarvenaz Sarabipour
Johns Hopkins University
Kalina Hristova/BMMB lab




Q: What initially attracted you to biophysics?
I was attracted to biophysics while studying physics as an undergraduate at the University of Sydney, Australia. I was fascinated by the biophysicists’ attempts to answer fundamental and extremely challenging questions at the interface of physics, biology, and medicine. In particular, I was curious to investigate how cell signaling is initiated by cell surface proteins.

Q: What specific areas are you studying?
I am investigating receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) interactions in cellular plasma membranes. We are interested in measuring thermodynamic parameters for protein-protein interactions in these membranes. These parameters tell us how strong the interactions are and give us information about the nature of the functional complexes.

Q: What is your current research project?
My project involves measuring dimerization propensities of FGFRs, a family of receptor tyrosine kinases involved in cell survival, differentiation, and angiogenesis. I use quantitative FRET microscopy to measure free energies of dimerization for these receptors in mammalian cell membranes.

Q:  What do you hope to do after graduation?
I hope to continue my research as a postdoctoral researcher. I enjoy teaching as well, and I would like to pursue an academic career in the future.

Q:  If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their undergraduate science career, what would it be?
I would encourage them to choose a lab/research area that they find themselves passionate about. I believe that their interest in their work will help them overcome the challenges ahead.

Q:  Why did you join the Biophysical Society?
The Biophysical Society is the largest community of biophysicist in the world. Biophysical Society meetings provide a great environment for likeminded researchers to interact and to learn from each other.

Q:  What (or who) inspires you scientifically?
I am inspired by the fact that RTK research often leads to new therapies and I hope to contribute to that. I am also inspired by the great research environment at Johns Hopkins. I enjoy working with my colleagues and collaborators on projects that I am so fascinated by.

Kalina Hristova, Sarabipour PI says:
She puts her heart into her work, and she spends nights and weekends by the lab bench. She is a selfstarter, never hesitating to start a new challenging line of research with no precedent in the lab and in the literature. Sarabipour is in the home stretch of her PhD work. She is performing unique experiments that are very challenging and labor-intensive, but I have no doubts that this hard work will pay off.