Graduate student receives poster award

PhD student Aaron Love recently won a Best Poster Award at the Boston Bacterial Meeting for his research on protein coding schemes.
PhD student Aaron Love stands next to his winning poster at the Boston Bacterial Meeting.

Amidst strong competition with close to 150 posters on display, Aaron Love, a Tufts University graduate student pursuing his PhD in Biotechnology Engineering, won a Best Poster Award at the renowned Boston Bacterial Meeting (BBM). The BBM is an academic conference with the goal of bringing bacteriologists from all over the country to present their work and share ideas. The 2023 conference was held recently at the Harvard Science Center.

Love’s poster was titled “Specific Codons Control Cellular Resources and Fitness” based on a research paper of the same title and focused on research he has been conducting in Associate Professor Nikhil Nair’s laboratory in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Love seeks to enhance the reliability and resilience of genetic engineering in microorganisms by systematically identifying optimal schemes to recode proteins. Several codons can produce the same amino acid, but each one produces different outcomes for gene expression. By figuring out the logic behind this natural phenomenon, he aims to improve the predictability and effectiveness of genetic modifications in microbial systems.

His research focuses on translation elongation, when the mRNA passes through the ribosome to build proteins. By understanding how resources are allocated during this phase and the impact of mRNA sequence bias on protein expression, Love aims to optimize gene fitness and improve the outcome of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering efforts. Ultimately, this research has the potential to revolutionize biotechnology applications, enabling more efficient and reliable manipulation of genetic pathways, gene circuits, and complex phenotypes.