Humans of Sengupta Lab

Hello everyone! We are the three humans (other than Professor Sengupta himself) in Professor Sengupta’s lab- Julia, Meem and Vy. Let us give you a quick tour of our lab. We are in Science Center 343 and we share our lab space with Dr. Donald Jameson, a very fun person to have as a neighbor. We are probably the loudest lab in our building and in any building. So you should be able to find us pretty easily! And if you are exhausted by the summer heat, you are more than welcome to come hangout with us sometimes. Here in Sengupta lab, we wear sweaters even when it’s 95 degrees outside because we have a forever winter here, thanks to our Mr. and Mrs. Chiller running at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) all day (and night).

What do we work on, you ask? Well the three of us have three different projects, but we all work on clathrate hydrates. What are clathrate hydrates? They are crystals formed by guest molecules of liquid or gas trapped in cages of water at high pressure and low temperature. Uh! That was some serious science stuff there! Now let us introduce you to the people in our lab.


If you walk past SC 343 as you walk down the hallway of the Science Center third floor, the person you’ll see running around with chemicals and using most of our biochemistry instruments is Julia. She is the biophysical chemist in our lab, so you may see her in and out of the biochemistry lab, the cold room, or using the autoclave. She is a rising sophomore majoring in BMB and plays on the Women’s Soccer team. Julia works on studying antifreeze proteins, a naturally occurring protein found in a variety of organisms that need protection from very low temperatures. Step one of this new project is to express the genes for the protein in E. coli. Her typical day consists of being a caring mother for her cell cultures. Depending on how long they’ve been alive, this could mean plating them onto agar, changing their media, or giving them their necessary antibiotics.  


Meem is the crazy lively person in our lab who loves invading professors’ offices for a quick small talk (which sometimes ends up in hours long conversation) or to get some gumballs (She recently found out Professor Good in Physics has a gumball machine in his office. Now we have a gumball monster stopping by his office everyday). Meem is a rising junior majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Writing. She works on investigating the memory effect of clathrate hydrates. Clathrate hydrates are known to form faster when they are formed from melted sample of previously formed clathrate hydrates rather than from a freshly prepared solution. This is known as the “memory effect”. Meem is working on investigating the impacts of different surfaces like copper, aluminum, teflon, etc. on memory effect as well as the impacts of volume and shape of sample holder on memory effect. She is the microscope person in our lab. She spends her day making some fresh samples, observing her samples under the microscope and analyzing her data (and getting herself some gumballs of course). 


Vy is the strong person in our lab whom you’ll often see casually carrying a liquid nitrogen dewar. She is a rising sophomore majoring in Chemistry and double-minoring in Biology and Physics. She works on studying the formation kinetics of clathrate hydrates in the presence of different dopants. She makes ice from different solutions containing trace amounts of dopants e.g. lipids, surfactants, amino acids, and alcohols and monitors the clathrate hydrate formation rates. Her typical day includes making fresh ice powder and running experiments which may take hours during which she analyzes data (and sometimes mentally sneaks out to learn Chinese). Vy is hopeful that she will build up muscles after lifting many heavy things for her experiments. Occasionally she would take a look at Dr. Jameson’s notes in his lab on the other side of the room and freak out about what was to come. 

Professor Sengupta

Quiz: Who is the great artist of this wonderful portrait of Professor Sengupta? (Answer at the end)

Professor Sengupta, as you can tell, is the versatile person in our lab who kinda has to work on all three projects. Vy is glad he helps her with technical stuff and carrying heavy cylinders. Meem is glad he fixes her microscope every time the light keeps reflecting on the glass and messes up her recording. Julia is glad he shows her how to use all of the biochemistry equipment. And of course we are all glad we have an awesome professor like him around us all day. 

So, now you know us – the humans of Sengupta lab. We are so glad to be working together all day though we work on different things, and we are so glad to have each other – just to chat or laugh with. We welcome you to stop by and say Hi to us, as well as take a second to enjoy our forever winter!

(Answer of Quiz question: Meem)

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