Divya Choudhary

Matric Year: 2020 – Subject: DPhil Biochemistry – Scholarship: Indira Gandhi

During my DPhil at Oxford Biochemistry, I will work on understanding the evolution of bacteria under antibiotic stress. I strive to answer the questions related to single-cell heterogeneity in stress adaptations which enables bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance by exploring the importance of stochastic noise and fluctuations in these processes.

I completed my undergraduate degree, majoring in Chemical Engineering, from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi (2016-2020). During my undergraduate years, I stepped into the field of synthetic biology through institute iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) team and subsequently, worked on an array of different projects. With the Kusuma School of biology-IIT Delhi, I worked on building computational algorithms for genomic analysis of G-Quaruplexes and Vitamin D receptor elements under Dr V. Perumal.

Outside my institute, I was fortunate to be selected as an undergraduate researcher at Harvard SEAS (Khorana Scholar 2018, summer 2018), Harvard Medical School (summer 2019) and Australian National University (Future Research Talent Travel Award 2019, winter 2019). In these projects, I explored the single-cell and genome studies using image analysis and building computational algorithms. I was fascinated by the link between biology and engineering/mathematics, which made me curious to view the cell regulation behaviour with a quantitative lens which, otherwise, has mostly been analyzed qualitatively.

Antibiotics are continuously being challenged by microorganisms all around the world, potentially overpowering the drugs by developing resistance against them. The advent of super-resolution microscopy and single-cell analysis has brought us a step closer in analyzing the root cause of increasing antibiotic resistance in micro-organisms. It is especially important in India, where the extensive, as well as ill use of antibiotics and lack of Point-Of-Care diagnostics, has led to people losing lives due to septicemia at a larger scale. Developing engineering approaches to study “How cells sense the environment and regulate this antibiotic stress at the single-cell level” would help me address this issue.

I am grateful to be a part of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD) community. It will provide me with a platform to understand the interdisciplinary links between scientific research advancements and better healthcare, thus touching people’s lives.

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