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Grand Challenges Scholar, Spring 2024

Priyati Sharma

Priyati Sharma’s dedication to understanding the scope of bioengineering has led her to synthetic biology, a growing field of science she wishes to pursue in the future.

Sharma’s versatility of applying diverse areas of research inspired her to study biomedical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

As an honors student with Barrett, The Honors College, Sharma served as a Barrett Summer Scholars section leader for one summer. Additionally, she received a Barrett Global Explorers Grant to fund a summer research experience focused on a global topic that supports her honors thesis.

“I have been an undergraduate researcher studying synthetic biology in Dr. Xiaojun Tian’s lab for two years, and I spent a summer doing research on bioengineering improvement photosynthesis for my honors thesis in Dr. Tobias Erb’s lab at the Max Planck for Terrestrial Microbiology Institute in Marburg, Germany,” Sharma says.

Sharma has contributed to several organizations, being recognized as a Grand Challenges Scholar, serving as president of DIYbio, ASU’s synthetic biology student organization for the last two years.

Outside of DIYbio, Sharma served as an undergraduate teaching assistant and an ASU 101 section leader. She has also trained and mentored undergraduate students in the Tian Lab. Additionally, she was co-captain of the ASU iGEM team in 2022 and continues to mentor students.

“I participated in the International Genetically Engineered Machine, or iGEM, competition, and won gold for team ASU in 2021,” Sharma says. 

Sharma and her team engineered microalgae to bind arsenic in water, reducing it and sequestering the toxic contamination. 

She has participated in Engineers Without Borders, Engineering Projects in Community Service and student research opportunities with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, working closely with clinical professor Mary Jane Parmentier.

“Working with other people to devise innovative solutions is a core part of engineering, and having so many avenues to do so has broadened my skill set. It has really made me feel ready to tackle engineering challenges in the real world,” Sharma says.

The honor student received several scholarships, including the Milton Sommerfeld Award to Advance Algae Research, ASU New American University President’s Award and the Grand Challenges Scholars Program Experiential Learning Grant.

Sharma says, “Alongside research, I would also love to be able to continue contributing to improving access to synthetic biology education by developing resources for students from all backgrounds.”

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2024 class here.

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