Undergraduate Research Program

Varun Sridhar

Varun in labMajor: Microbiology
Mentor: Dr. Ajai Dandekar, Microbiology

Contact: varuns26@uw.edu

Current research project: Anti-activators of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Quorum Sensing


Varun Sridhar is a senior in Microbiology and he is currently researching anti-activators of quorum sensing, a bacterial cell-cell communication system that controls gene transcription based on population density, in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic lung pathogen. Varun aspires to make research and academia more accessible for high school students, undergraduates, and young researchers.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Quorum sensing is a bacterial cell-cell communication system that many bacteria, including the opportunistic lung pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, use to control the expression of many genes such as virulence factors. My research focuses on three proteins known as anti-activators which are known to attenuate quorum sensing in P. aeruginosa. I hope to use anti-activators to establish novel methods of treating P. aeruginosa infections as opposed to more traditional means, as conventional antibiotic treatments are slowly becoming less effective in treating infections.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Growing up, I was inspired by my grandmother, a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, to pursue research. When I came to the University of Washington, I quickly contacted professors in the Biology department whose research I found fascinating, and started working under Dr. Clemens Cabernard, who studies asymmetric cell division in fruit fly neural stem cells.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Do not be afraid to reach out to professors who do work you find really interesting and ask for a position in their group. At the end of the day, a professor’s job is to teach, and they will most likely be more than happy to meet a prospective student and offer guidance.