CTBP Summer Undergraduate Research Day

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Varshini Vakulabharanam

The CTBP’s Summer Undergraduate Research Day was held Monday Aug 2, 2021, with over 100 attendees joining us to see the summer research accomplished by 14 undergraduates, in collaboration with CTBP grad students and postdocs at Rice, Northeastern, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Houston (UH). The winner of the best poster competition was Varshini Vakulabharanam, a Public Health major and Biology minor at UH. Varshini’s project focused on simulating the dynamics of γD-Crystallin, a protein known to be associated with the development of cataracts. Under the direction of her mentor, Vinícius Contessoto in the Onuchic lab, Varshini showed that the unfolding of this protein can only be fully understood by studying the unfolding of individual subdomains. Their work gives new insight into the dynamics of these proteins, and may have important implications on the process of aggregation that gives rise to the development of cataracts.