Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Shreya Ramakrishnan

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Winter 2021

 Research Project: Investigating the Impacts of mTOR Inhibitors on C. elegans Longevity 

Project Description:  In this study, we will be testing the efficacy of different compounds that are potential down regulators of the mTOR pathway and their effect on the longevity of C. Elegans specimens. Our potential mTOR inhibitors will be selected from the strongest hits as identified from prior work using Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In order to observe the effects of these compounds over a longer period of time, the WormBot, a novel image capture robotics hardware, will be used. Developing a training mechanism to feed the data into the neural network is also a key focus of this research. Using the R Shiny package, we have been developing an application that allows users to train a neural network. By implementing this, our neural network would be able to trace the movement of each animal to observe how their motility patterns fluctuate with age allowing us to more accurately make conclusions about the effects of certain compounds on the healthspans of C. elegans.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

The one greatest takeaway I have learned from my research is how important it is to keep an open mind. In research, there will always be obstacles and road blocks when your experiment doesn’t work as planned or there are bugs in your code. The way that I’ve been able to overcome these hurdles is through the help of my mentors and keeping an open mind to the many different solutions there may be out there. I’ve also learned how important collaboration is to the innovation process, the different perspectives that many people bring, despite how much experience they have, are all relevant. The idea that learning comes from all places is another message that has resonated with me through my research.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

Never underestimate yourself. Even if you think you can’t do something, it’s always a learning process, so take the opportunities that come to you and rise to the occasion to succeed in them.