MCO Graduate Program alum Vayu Maini Rekdal (Ph.D. ‘20, Balskus Lab) has been chosen as one of six recipients of the 2020 International Birnstiel Award for Doctoral Studies in Molecular Life Sciences. The award, which is now in its second year, celebrates the achievements of phenomenal graduate students from universities around the world.
Maini Rekdal and the other awardees were selected from a pool of over 130 nominees. Nominations are limited to one candidate per Ph.D. program. “The number and quality nominations that we received was extremely impressive and shows that the Birnstiel Award is now fully established as one of the leading life science prizes for young researchers,” chair of the Birnstiel selection panel Meinrad Busslinger said in a press release.
The award is endowed by the Max Birnstiel Foundation, which named for a molecular biologist who studied gene regulation, and the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Austria. Each recipient receives a certificate, a trophy, and a cash prize of 2,000 Euros.
Maini Rekdal defended this thesis, titled “Discovery and characterization of gut microbial enzymes involved in xenobiotic metabolism,” in May of this year. His research on microbial metabolism led to first-author papers in Science, Biochemistry, and eLife. He is also a professional chef and combines his passion for cooking and scientific curiosity through outreach and education efforts, such as the Young Chefs program. This fall, he is beginning a Miller Fellowship at UC Berkeley.