Arjun Krishnan, ’21, Computer Science

Certificate(s): Linguistics, Quantitative and Computational Biology

I worked on a project investigating the trajectory of influenza evolution after a jump from animal to human hosts. My mentors and I investigated how the selective pressures of the host environment influenced adaptation and whether there was a necessary, replicable chronosequence of adaptations that followed such a jump. My internship involved computational work with virus genome data from the GISAID global database, which meant writing code in Python to extract and graphically plot trends from large sets of gene sequences. I received guidance and support on useful computational tools and on the background theory of our work from Professor Levin and the graduate students I worked with, and I gained experience writing scientific code. My work was exciting for its interesting theoretical implications and its practical applications for pandemic preparedness. I gained insight into the research process and enjoyed the lab environment. As a computer science major, this internship was valuable exposure to a more computational approach to ecology and evolutionary biology, a field I really enjoy and hope to pursue further.