For Prospective Students

Highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in understanding protein-aided RNA catalysis or novel metabolic pathways in Salmonella enterica can visit the links below for more information before contacting Dr. Gopalan to set up an appointment to talk about research opportunities in the lab!

•   Undergraduate students
•   Graduate students
•   Currently available projects for new students

Undergraduate Students

Many of our undergraduate students join the lab after enrolling in the “Early Experience in Research in Biochemistry” series, which “expose[s] students to emerging research areas and topics in the field[s] of biochemistry and biotechnology. Biochemistry 2900H, offered during Autumn Semester, includes presentations on research trends and topics by faculty, “excursions” to research labs and instrument facilities here at Ohio State, and various panel discussions relating to research and careers in biochemistry. Biochemistry 2998H, offered during Spring Semester, provides students with the opportunity to become engaged in individual research experiences in some of our laboratories.” (Contact Dr. Marcos Sotomayor or Dr. Venkat Gopalan for more information about 2900H or 2998H, respectively.) However, while these courses offer a great introduction into the world of biochemistry research, they are not prerequisites for joining the lab.

Undergraduate students in our lab conduct independent research and are expected to sign up for at least 2 credit hours of research per semester, with each credit hour representing 3-5 hours per week in the lab. Students attend and participate in weekly lab meetings and have the opportunity to present their research at local and regional forums, including the Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, Natural and Mathematical Sciences Undergraduate Research Forum, and the Rustbelt RNA Meeting. They are also encouraged to apply for various fellowships within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, and the university as a whole.

Undergraduate students in the Gopalan lab have received numerous awards and fellowships [denoted with a (UG) on our team awards and honors page] and report that the research experience they gained during their time in the lab was instrumental in their admission to dental school, graduate school, and medical school (see below).

Dental Schools
•   New York University College of Dentistry
•   The Ohio State University College of Dentistry

Graduate Schools
•   Harvard University (Chemistry and Chemical Biology)
•   The Ohio State University (MSc in Biochemistry, Chemistry and Biochemistry)
•   San Diego State University and University of California-San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology
•   University of California-Riverside (Chemical Engineering)
•   University of California-Santa Cruz (Chemistry)
•   University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK (MSc Cognitive Neuroscience)
•   University of Illinois at Chicago (MSc in Forensic Science)
•   University of Michigan (Medicinal Chemistry)
•   University of Minnesota Medical School (Pharmacology)
•   University of Missouri-Kansas City (MSc in Anesthesia Program)
•   University of Southern California (Doctorate in Pharmacy Program)
•   University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Neuroscience)
•   Yale University (Molecular Biophysics and Chemistry)

Medical Schools
•   Baylor College of Medicine
•   The Ohio State University College of Medicine
•   Ross University School of Medicine
•   Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
•   University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
•   University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences
•   West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
•   Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine

Graduate Students

Dr. Gopalan is currently affiliated with the Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Program; Microbiology Graduate Program; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) Program; Ohio State Biochemistry Program (OSBP); and Ohio State Biophysics Graduate Program. Interested graduate students from other programs are encouraged to contact Dr. Gopalan to discuss their research interests.

Graduate students in the Gopalan lab are strongly encouraged to apply for research fellowships and to present their research at local, regional, and national forums, including (recently) the OSU Cellular, Molecular, and Biochemical Sciences Training Program (CMBP)/Center for RNA Biology annual symposium, the RNA Rustbelt Meeting, and the “Nucleic Acids” Gordon Research Conference. They have received a number of presentation awards and research fellowships [denoted with a (GS) on our team awards and honors page], and continue on to positions in both academia and industry after graduation (see our lab alumni page for a complete listing).

Recent Graduate Student Honors
•   2019-2021 Pelotonia Graduate Student Research Fellowship (to Hong Duc Phan)
•   2018-2020 Pelotonia Graduate Student Research Fellowship (to Ila Marathe)
•   2018-2019 Cellular, Biochemical, and Molecular Sciences Training Program (CMBP) Research Fellowship (to Blake Szkoda)

Currently available projects for new students

Archaeal RNase P

•   Mapping RNA—protein interactions critical for assembly and function of this multi-subunit ribonucleoprotein complex
Methods: site-directed mutagenesis; RNA (in vitro) transcription, purification, and labeling; protein overexpression and purification; RNA processing assays; enzyme kinetic studies; hydroxyl radical-mediated RNA—protein footprinting; ensemble fluorescence (FRET) assays; electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy; single-molecule fluorescence microscopy; mass spectrometry
Collaborators: Mark Foster (OSU); Michael Poirier (OSU); Vicki Wysocki (OSU)

•   Mapping structural changes in the catalytic RNA subunit that occur en route to formation of a functional ribonucleoprotein complex
Methods: site-directed mutagenesis; RNA (in vitro) transcription; photochemical crosslinking; selective 2′-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension (SHAPE)-seq
Collaborators: Julius Lucks (Northwestern)

•   Developing new methods for efficient chemical modification of RNAs
Methods: RNA (in vitro) transcription; RNA processing assays; ensemble fluorescence (FRET) assays; fluorescence polarization (FP) binding assays; electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy
Collaborators: Edward Behrman (OSU); Mark Foster (OSU)

Eukaryal RNase P

•   Investigating the RNase P-mediated nexus between transcription and biogenesis of tRNAs
Methods: RNA (in vitro) transcription, purification, and labeling; protein overexpression and purification; chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-Seq)
Collaborators: Sidney Altman (Yale University); Nayef Jarrous (Hebrew University)

•   Determining the structure and function of RNase P from different parts of the mouse brain, particularly with the goal of understanding the disease consequences that ensure from tRNA processing defects
Methods: RNA (in vitro) transcription, purification, and labeling; RNase P purification from mouse and human tissues; RNA processing assays; substrate-specificity mapping; nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy; RNA crystallography
Collaborators: Susan Ackerman (Northwestern); Hashim Al-Hashimi (Duke University); Kotaro Nakanishi (OSU)

Metabolic Pathways in Salmonella

•   Determining the enzymatic mechanisms and underlying regulatory control mechanisms used by Salmonella to grow on fructose-asparagine
Methods: protein overexpression and purification; enzyme kinetic studies; DNA—protein footprinting; fluorescence polarization (FP) binding assays; in vivo studies; synthesis of Amadori products; protein crystallography; protein modeling; mass spectrometry
Collaborators: Brian Ahmer (OSU); Edward Behrman (OSU); Charles Bell (OSU); Steffen Lindert (OSU); Vicki Wysocki (OSU)

•   Identifying and characterizing small molecule inhibitors of the Salmonella fructose-asparagine utilization pathway to develop a novel therapeutic for non-typhoidal salmonellosis
Methods: high-throughput biochemical screening, validation, and characterization of small molecule inhibitors; synthesis of fructose-asparagine derivatives and lead optimization; protein crystallography; mass spectrometry
Collaborators: Brian Ahmer (OSU); Edward Behrman (OSU); Charles Bell (OSU); Steffen Lindert (OSU); Vicki Wysocki (OSU)