The Graduate College’s Fellowship Board has completed its review of nominations for the 2019 Dissertation Completion Fellowship competition. Forty-five departments from across campus submitted a total of 78 nominations and, of those, 18 nominations from 18 departments were selected for awards. Biophysics and Quantitative Biology student Shriyaa Mittal was one of the 18 awardees.
Shriyaa Mittal's research has focused on developing algorithms and tools to integrate simulations and experiments in the study of protein dynamics. Her current work provides not just novel tools, but infrastructure to continue improving our understanding of proteins that are crucial for all cellular functions.
Her research efforts investigated the best probe locations for DEER (Double electron-electron resonance) spectroscopy given the conformational ensemble of a membrane peptide transporter. She has also developed an algorithm to predict the minimal set of experimental DEER probes required to identify the slow dynamic processes occurring on the conformational landscape of the protein.
“Because of Shriyaa’s dedication, her excellent trouble-shooting intuition and innovative capacity, she has made tremendous progress in research along with excellence in coursework,” says Shriyaa’s advisor, Diwakar Shukla, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
In addition to performing very well in her research, Shriyaa has been an active participant in several education and outreach activities. For instance, she will be serving on the Graduate College student advisory board, Students Advising on Graduate Education (SAGE), for the academic year 2019-2020. she is the Past President of the Illinois Biophysics Society, a student-run organization consisting of Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology graduate students with a mission to improve the lifestyle, educational experience, and future career opportunities of biophysics peers. In addition, she has led several outreach efforts aimed to engage under-represented minority children in local Champaign-Urbana schools and helped organize scientific outreach projects as part of the Girls Adventure in Mathematics Engineering and Sciences camp, among other activities at the campus and community levels.
“The Dissertation Completion Fellowship will provide funding for my last year of graduate school, thus giving me the opportunity to wholeheartedly focus on my research,” says Shriyaa.
After graduation, Shriyaa plans to pursue a postdoc position that would allow her to continue working on interesting scientific problems.