MCO/EPB graduate student Sriram “Sri” Srikant (rising G3, Murray and Gaudet Labs) received a 2013 Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Research Fellowship. His research focuses on understanding the ABC transporters involved in the secretion of mating pheromones in extant fungi. He investigates the functional aspects of these transporters in the context of their structural features and evolutionary history. He is particularly interested in studying Ste6, a protein in yeast that pumps a pheromone out of a budding yeast cell. Ste6 is also a homolog of the multidrug pump that plays an important role in the drug resistance of many tumors. He hopes to maintain this “holistic view of molecular machines” throughout his career.
Sri grew up in Chennai, a metropolis in South India, and completed an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM). He entered the Engineering and Physical Biology (EPB) graduate student training program at Harvard. After finishing his rotation, joined the labs of Andrew Murray and Rachel Gaudet in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) to combine his long-standing interest in structural biology with his more recent enthusiasm for cell biology and evolution. “I was thrilled to immerse myself in the biological sciences as part of EPB and to interact with MCB researchers with diverse perspectives in the struggle to solve the pressing questions of biology.”
“The role of the EPB track for the Harvard community is to recognize, encourage and support talented young scientists who have the courage to bridge disciplines across the physical/engineering and biological sciences divide,” explains Professor Nancy Kleckner, who heads the EPB program. “Sriram exemplifies this type of young scientist. We are delighted that his potential has been recognized by HHMI and we look forward to his future contributions.”
“It is a great honor to be awarded this prestigious fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute,” said Sri. “Not only does the fellowship support me financially in conducting my research, it also provides support for me to participate in conferences to discuss my research with other scientists. In this way it allows me to interact with members of the scientific community and hold my work to the highest of standards.” Outside of science, Sri collects comic books, and relishes weekly trips to the bookstore with conversations on the latest events in the superhero multiverse. He also enjoys reading books, puzzles, and playing badminton and frisbee.
Professor Murray describes Sri as “brilliant, fearless, creative, outgoing, helpful, and a stellar experimentalist” whose intelligence is “matched by his charm and humility.”
“In our early discussions on ABC transporters, Sri got me more excited about our work on ABC transporters than I had been in several years,” recalled Professor Gaudet. “His engineering perspective enables him to pose the questions from a new angle, which suggest new approaches to the study of this important protein family.”
HHMI launched the International Student Research Fellowships Program last year to support international students during their “make or break” 3rd to 5th years of graduate school in the United States, when they typically find very little funding support for their studies. International students in U.S. graduate schools are not eligible for federal fellowships, training grant support, or other governmental opportunities that are generally reserved for U.S. citizens. The Institute chose to fund the 3rd to 5th years of graduate school because, by this time, most students have chosen a graduate advisor, identified a research project, and demonstrated their potential for success in the lab.
You can read more about the HHMI International Student Research Fellowships Program here.