Arjun Krishnan ’21


Computer Science

Project Title

Constrained Evolution After Spillover in Zoonotic RNA Viruses: An Investigation of Viral Evolution in Human Hosts After Human-Animal Transmission

Presentation Link

View Arjun's Presentation

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.

Internship Year


Project Category

Water and Health


Levin Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


Simon Levin, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Dylan Morris, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Chadi Saad-Roy, Ph.D. candidate, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics