Office: B62 Riley Robb Hall
Advisor: Todd Walter
Degree Program: MS/PhD
I grew up in Kolkata, India and graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Industrial
Biotechnology from Anna University, Chennai. I defended my Master’s thesis in
December 2009 and am currently working towards a PhD. In my free time, I volunteer
with Asha Cornell (name coincidental), which supports education projects for
underprivileged children in India. Someday I hope to play the violin reasonably well.
My Current Research Projects and Interests
DNA Based Tracers
In order to answer questions that involve multiple and potentially interacting hydrological
flowpaths, multiple tracers with identical transport properties that can nonetheless be
distinguished from each other are required. We are therefore developing such a new kind of
engineered tracer system that allows a large number of individual tracers to be simultaneously
distinguished from one another. This new tracer is composed of polylactic acid (PLA)
microspheres into which short strands of synthetic DNA and paramagnetic iron oxide
nanoparticles are incorporated. The synthetic DNA serves as the “label” or “tag” in our tracers
that allow us to distinguish one tracer from another and paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles
are included in the tracer to facilitate magnetic concentration of the tracers in water samples.
The potential advantages of this strategy compared to conventional tracers are the elimination
of background interferences, the ability to segregate superimposed flowpaths through the
design of strictly unique DNA tags and the biodegradability of the tracers.
Climate Change and Groundwater
Little is currently known about the effects of climate change on groundwater. As population
increase and economic activity are likely to cause increased use of this resource in many
regions, understanding the impacts of climate change on it becomes more critical. The lack of
long term groundwater data has been a major impediment in understanding long term trends.
We are therefore exploring the possibility of using surface flow data, using in particular
recession slope analysis to estimate trends in aquifer thickness, i.e. groundwater depth.