Ph.D. in Biology
What degree are you working toward?
Ph.D. in Biology in Dr. Jason Meyer's lab.
Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?
I initially applied to IUPUI in 2010 for a master’s program in Biology. I chose IUPUI as the biology department here offered a thesis option for Master’s, which was not offered by a lot of other graduate programs. Upon acceptance into IUPUI, I had a phone interview with the faculty members in Biology, including Dr. Jason Meyer. I was intrigued by Dr. Meyer’s research and therefore, decided to join IUPUI and pursue my master’s degree in his lab. I really enjoyed my research project and I decided to stick around for my Ph.D., too.
What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?
I attended my first scientific conference in 2011 and I was blown away by the hundreds of posters being presented there. Attending these conferences has helped me interact with the best scientific minds in the community and receive critical feedback to improve my research. Not only do these conferences serve as hubs to develop critical networking and presentation skills but also provide the chance to explore a different city every time!
What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis is a small trendy city and the best thing about this city are the people. When I first moved here, the biology department members and fellow students helped me immensely in getting settled in. Over the last 5 years, I have made some long-lasting friendships and professional relationships that I will always cherish. Additionally, I also enjoy living close to downtown and being able to explore different types of cuisine.
Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.
Akshayalakshmi took first place in the 2015 3MT Competition.
My thesis work focuses on studying the genes involved in early retinal development. The development of the human retina begins within the first trimester of gestation and therefore, I use human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) as a system to model human development in a lab setting. hiPSCs are adult-derived stem cells that possess the ability to divide indefinitely and can generate all cell types of the body, including retinal cells. My research allows the exploration of the earliest events in embryogenesis that had been previously inaccessible and establishes iPS cells as a model system for studies of human development and disease progression.
- Authored 4 research papers and a book chapter.
- Won travel awards and poster-presentation awards for presenting my data at conferences.
- Received the Elite 50 award for Top 50 graduate and professional students in 2015.
- Received the Elizabeth Steele Creveling Memorial Scholarship in 2014 for outstanding doctoral student in biology.
- Teaching Assistant in the biology department since 2011 and was chosen as the Biology nominee for the School of Science Teaching award in 2015.
- Currently involved in mentoring a student from the Undergraduate Research opportunity Program (UROP).
- Mentored 2 high school students as a part of the Indianapolis Project seed, a high school summer research internship program from summer 2012-2014.