Revathi Reddy

Introduce yourself...

I am pursuing my Master's in Chemistry with a focus on Chemical Biology from Dr. Ratmir Derda’s group at the University of Alberta. My field of research is called “glycobiology” which is the study of chemistry and biology of sugar molecules that are present in every living organism. It is a rapidly growing field and I am very excited to be able to contribute to it. While I find academic research quite rewarding, I also care deeply about translating science beyond the lab bench. Since my undergraduate days, I have found ways to communicate my science in the form of blogs, creating visual infographics, and engaging scientists on social media. When I’m not doing experiments in the lab, I’m probably experimenting with molecules in my kitchen. Growing up in an Indian family, I have grown fond of exploring my palette and trying new flavorful vegetarian recipes.

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

To put it in very simple terms, I am currently looking to develop newer and effective methods to diagnose infectious diseases from human blood. I am specifically looking at a class of molecules called "anti-glycan antibodies" which are proteins that your body makes against sugar molecules present on viruses, pathogens, vaccines, etc. There is much left to be discovered in this field and I am hoping that one day the tools that I am developing can help study these molecules better and their impact on human health.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

Focusing only on the scientific details of your research can sometimes make you lose sight of the project’s broader impact and vision. Presenting a 3MT really forced me to think beyond the day-to-day experiments that I do at the lab bench and focus more on the overarching goal of my project. It has taught me to communicate my research findings in a much simpler way without overgeneralizing them. This has been my best science communication experience so far!

What inspires you to do research?

I find the process of exploring a problem that has never been solved before extremely rewarding. In scientific research, failures are bound to happen but being able to learn from them and troubleshoot on a daily basis gives me immense satisfaction. Believing that a few years down the line my research may move beyond the lab bench and help patients is what motivates me the most.

What are three keywords important to your 3MT? 

passion, energy, enthusiasm

How has your research changed during COVID-19

Even though multiple unprecedented lab closures irreversibly affected my research progress, COVID-19 taught me to prioritize my tasks and use my time wisely. I have been of the opinion that putting long hours in the lab is essential to collect as much data as possible but in the past year, I realized that taking breaks actually increased my productivity and efficiency. It has also taught me to be more resilient, a really important virtue that I have never really thought of before the pandemic.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

I would definitely dedicate it to my mom who has always been supportive of my life and career choices. Being an international student can get overwhelming at times and she has been an incredible pillar of moral support throughout my time in graduate school.