Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2012
Swati Agrawal, a recent doctoral graduate in cellular biology, researched and wrote her dissertation onToxoplasma gondii, a unicellular parasite and cause of toxoplasmosis. Specifically, Agrawal used a combination of genetics and biochemistry to discover how proteins travel across four membranes to support the function of an organelle that is essential to the parasite’s viability. She identified the molecular machinery involved in transporting proteins across the innermost membrane, and showed that a different complex was involved in the transport across the third membrane. She also engineered a mutation in which the absence of a particular protein resulted in death of the parasite, and these proteins are attractive targets for the development of new drugs for many parasitic diseases. Argawal authored four papers during her graduate career, and she has been invited to present her work in both national and international forums.