Student Spotlight

What initially attracted you to biophysics?

When Dr. Tatulian told me about this project that he has the grant for, it immediately caught my attention and I decided to make it my masters thesis. Physics has always been my strong point since [my] school days, and characterizing a protein using cool graphs and equations altogether pulled me towards this area.

What specific areas are you studying?

My area is membrane biophysics where I am trying to characterize the physical parameters of a pro-apototic protein on the mitochondrial membrane by the means of artificial lipid vesicles.

What is your current research project?

Our current aim is to determine if the C-terminal helix itself is a sufficient structural unit that possesses the capabilities of membrane binding and pore formation and also to elucidate the biophysical characteristics of membrane binding mode, membrane destabilization, and pore formation of a 20-amino acid peptide that corresponds to the C-terminal α-helix of a pro-apoptotic protein called Bax.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I have already been accepted into the MBA program at the College of Business Administration here at the University of Central Florida, and I plan to pursue a second masters immediately after I graduate with this MS (thesis).

If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their undergraduate science career, what would it be?

Biophysics is an interesting fi eld that not only allows you to work on conventional biological systems/assays but also on new equipment, machines, software, and programs. In all biophysics is a true blend of all the natural sciences.

Why did you join the Biophysical Society?

Being a member of this Society, I can see what current research is going on in the fi eld. I have learned a lot from the peer review articles, and interestingly, have met some really great people who think alike during the Society’s Annual Meetings.

What (or who) inspires you scientifically?

Since I am working on a cancer protein, my biggest motivation is to do something good for people. Even if it’s not as large as creating a revolutionary drug for cancer treatment, I would be more than happy to contribute to the scientific community by the means of education, if nothing else.

Suren Tatulian, Garg’s PI, says:

“Pranav is keenly interested in biophysics and biotechnology. During a short period of time he grew from a novice to an expert in a variety of techniques such as fluorescence, circular dichroism, and infrared spectroscopy. He also was a key factor in developing experimental techniques that have not been used in the lab before. Pranav worked tirelessly and vigilantly to overcome initial technical hurdles and achieve nice results on the kinetics of lipid vesicle content release caused by pore-forming peptides. His interests are both in basic research and better understanding of the mechanisms of biomolecules and practical applications of new fi ndings either for biotechnological or pharmaceutical purposes.”


September 2011 Table of Contents