Photo credits: Dibya Saha working at the lab, EPFL

Dibya Saha @ EPFL

As a final year student of BS-MS dual degree at IISER Tirupati, I secured a position in the Laboratory of Microbiology and Microtechnology at EPFL Switzerland for my master’s thesis.

ThinkSwiss research fellowship made it possible for me to partially fund my stay and carry out my project smoothly, even during these challenging times. There were many uncertainties due to the prevailing pandemic, but I could start working on my project at EPFL from October with the fellowship’s support. As a budding research aspirant, the exposure that I have been receiving during my stay is invaluable.

The group I am part of specialises in single-cell time-lapses of bacterial cells and the technology they employ is interdisciplinary and current. The researchers in our group have been working on Mycobacterium, Uropathogenic E. coli and SARS-COV2. These projects have their foundation on different microfluidic systems that allow us to study these pathogens’ behaviour and often mimic host conditions for developing robust model systems. The seemingly diverse projects on different bacteria are trying to decipher the persistence mechanisms in the antibiotic resistance crisis’s backdrop.

The project I am working on involves studying the role of cell-wall hydrolytic amidases in Mycobacterium smegmatis. I am looking at the cell wall recycling and remodelling pathways essential for the growth of the bacteria. Performing a variety of phenotypic assays to study the cell wall of the bacteria, capturing the growth dynamics under a microscope over long durations of time, performing batch assays to look at the response of amidase mutants to different conditions has given me a realistic understanding about the process of scientific research.

Apart from science, living in Lausanne has offered me a splendid victual experience. The variety of cheese and bread along with the wines have been delightful. Lausanne was also the first place where I tried out deer meat. Every weekend, I would venture out into the city’s wilderness and often visit neighbouring towns and villages. Although many cultural experiences have been mitigated due to the pandemic, the thrill of staying and learning in Switzerland is still very much alive.

Dibya Saha
ThinkSwiss Research Fellow 2020