What are the genes that make bacteria tick under stress? OHSU student Divya Priya Anantsri is trying to find out

Meet Divya Priya Anantsri, a graduate student researcher at Oregon Health and Science University who works on bacterial genetics.

Anantsri earned her bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from PES University in India and worked as a research assistant before coming to OHSU.

Susannah L. Bodman

Her current research explores how genes are regulated in bacteria, allowing them to survive when exposed to environmental stressors.

Generally speaking, understanding how microbes cope with stress can have a number of important applications, from providing insights into how our own cells respond to stress to coming up with new ways to eradicate harmful bacteria in food processing to improve food safety. It also can help us to better culture and get the most out of microbes we use in brewing and food fermentation, medical research, making pharmaceuticals, and environmental cleanups.

Divya Priya Anantsri is shown at the lab bench at Oregon Health and Science University. Courtesy of Divya Priya Anantsri

Divya Priya Anantsri is exploring the genetics of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis as a graduate student researcher at Oregon Health and Science University. Courtesy of Divya Priya Anantsri

Read on for more about what Anatsri is working on in the lab and her answers to Science In Portland’s other profile questions, especially how she connects to science and others who love it in the Portland area.

1. What is your field of science, and how did you find your way into that field and into science in general?

I am a master’s student, and I work in a molecular biology lab at OHSU. With my research project, I am trying to uncover the genetic pathways in the gram-positive bacterium, Bacillus subtiliswith a focus on anaerobic gene regulation.

Ever since I chose to pursue my undergrad in biotech, I was sure I would find myself a career in genetics.

2. What is the focus of your research or applied science? What research projects, R&D or applications are you working on currently?

My research is focused on determining the target gene sequence for transcriptional regulators involved in the process of anaerobic gene regulation. We believe that determining the consensus sequence for the transcription factors would throw more light on the mechanism of regulation and help us gain more insight into how these bacteria survive under severe environmental stresses.

3. In your recent research or applied science endeavors, what have you learned so far through that’s excited you? What have you found most challenging in the work?

I would say that getting hands-on research experience has given me a whole new perspective on what it means to actually do science. It’s not always easy, and things don’t work out as planned, but the thrill of discovery and contributing to my field keeps me going.

5. How do you like to connect to the science community around Portland? (“Community” can include peers in your field, other scientists and science fans in the general public.)

I am a huge nerd and love talking about science every chance I get. The Science on Tap events and various other science meetups around Portland keep me excited. I would love to meet other science enthusiasts in informal settings and encourage interesting discussions.

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If you’d like to be featured in one our “Profiles in Science” posts, email your responses to the same questions we asked Anantsri along with a photo of yourself to sciwhat@gmail.com, and we may choose to feature you on this blog.

Susannah L. Bodman
Twitter: @Sciwhat
Facebook: Sciwhat.Science

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