Pravrutha grew up in Muscat, Oman (Haven’t heard of Oman?- look it up! It is gorgeous). Pravrutha moved to India for her undergraduate degree at the Vellore Institute of Technology. Her first research experience was in the lab of Dr. Robert Taylor during her Masters at Newcastle University studying the genetic basis of mitochondrial disease. Here, she discovered her love for mitochondrial biology and she hopes to reignite this flame someday! Her research in the Taylor lab was equal parts clinical and basic science but Pravrutha found herself favoring the basic sciences more.
While all of her work had been heavily genetics focused thus far, she was now curious to understand how non-DNA molecules (epigenetics) can affect gene expression. Pravrutha joined the lab of Dr. Antony Jose at the University of Maryland for her PhD work where she studied transport and inheritance of small RNAs in C. elegans. Her work in the Jose lab revealed that changes in gene expression could be inherited via double-stranded RNA. However, these changes rarely persist in descendants. These findings suggest that organisms have evolved repair mechanisms that enable recovery from parental changes. Such recovery mechanisms would be vital to prevent rampant spread of changes that could be detrimental to progeny that are no longer in similar environmental conditions.
Pravrutha’s dabbled with chromatin during her graduate work sparking her interest in the effect of chromatin organization on gene expression. Histone variants that provide functional diversity to have evolved despite the apparent conservation of histone proteins. In the Malik lab, Pravrutha is studying how histones affect gene expression and consequently different biological processes. Specifically, Pravrutha wants to study newly evolved histones or histones that have evolved differently. Pravrutha currently works with three different model systems (!!!) - yeast, nematodes and flies and hopes to understand how different histone variants can alter chromatin structure and consequently biological functions in these organisms
Pravrutha is a co-organizer of the fragile nucleosome community that was started during the Covid pandemic and has organized seminars and mentoring programs for gene regulation biologists across the world. Pravrutha wants to continue to promote similar communities and help increase accessibility to science. Pravrutha discovered her passion for mentoring in graduate school and hopes to continue mentoring aspiring scientists from around the world!
Outside of lab, Pravrutha can almost always be found at home in her pajamas! She dabbles in cocktail making, painting and enjoys baking elaborate sometimes science-themed cakes and pastries. Her love for squatting at home has led her to become a Netflix aficionado specializing in superhero or supernatural shows. As a Seattle resident she has begun to venture into “the wild” and hopes to start kayaking soon (2020 goals)!