Rachit Shrivastava wins best student research award at SRAA

Doctoral candidate and doctoral dissertation fellowship holder Rachit Shrivastava was recognized at the 2022 Biophysical Society (BPS) meeting in San Francisco. His research poster on the role of cargo motor interaction kinetics during intracellular cargo transport received the Student Research Achievement Award (SRAA). The poster takes off on the dissertation research that Shrivastava is currently engaged in under the guidance of Vincentine Hermes-Luh Chair Professor Murti Salapaka. 

Shrivastava’s interest lies in understanding the operation of the cellular transportation infrastructure. To this end, he leverages mathematical and state-of-the-art simulation techniques and combines them with novel DNA-based single molecule experimental techniques, and high resolution optical instrumentation to get a holistic picture of the working of molecular motors. Molecular motors are nanometer sized proteins that work in teams to transport cargo inside the cells of living organisms while walking on tracks made of protein filaments. Failure in the intracellular transportation network results in illnesses such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. Shrivastava’s work aims to combine instrumentation, mathematics, and biochemistry techniques to identify key regulating factors for transport by molecular motors.

The SRAA poster explores the effect of kinetic rates of interaction between molecular motor proteins and cellular cargo on the transportation of cargo inside the cells, a parameter largely ignored in previous studies. Working in collaboration with researchers from Professor Sivaraj Sivaramakrishnan's research laboratory in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development in the College of Biological Sciences, Shrivastava developed a Markov Chains-based algorithm which is several times faster and computationally more efficient than existing Monte Carlo algorithms. The algorithm permits researchers to simulate the cargo transportation process inside the cell more realistically, and gives them a better understanding of the mechanisms of how molecular motors work in teams to accomplish several cellular processes.

Doctoral candidate Rachit Shrivastava is also a recipient of the Graduate School's doctoral dissertation fellowship

BPS is the flagship international scientific society of biophysicists and its annual meeting is one of the largest gatherings of biophysicists bringing together more than 6,000 scientists for symposia, workshops, awards presentations, and other events. The SRAA poster competition is held every year at the BPS annual meeting with one to two graduate students at the masters or PhD level selected as winner in each subgroup.