New faculty profile: Vatsan Raman explores biodesign and biocatalysis

Vatsan Raman
Vatsan Raman

Srivatsan “Vatsan” Raman joined the faculty in the Department of Biochemistry as an assistant professor in August.

Briefly describe your career path—up to this point.
I got my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering in India. After working in the industry for a year, I came to the United States to pursue a Masters degree in chemical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. I worked on developing molecular simulation models of atmospheric nucleation events. This sparked my interest in molecular modeling. In my Ph.D at the University of Washington, Seattle, I developed computational tools for modeling proteins structures and interactions. As a postdoc at Harvard, I developed directed evolution approaches for engineering proteins and genomes.

What is the main focus of your research program?
My laboratory takes a synthetic biology approach to designing proteins with new functions and engineering microbes for biosynthesis or bioremediation. We are particularly focused on designing proteins that respond to new ligands, with the goal of making novel protein-based small molecule sensors. We use these small-molecule sensors, along with high-throughput genome engineering, to engineer microbes to produce valuable molecules like natural products and biofuels. We are also interested in studying mechanisms of allosteric regulation at molecular-level resolution using systems biology principles.

What drew you to UW-Madison?
I was drawn to both UW-Madison and Madison city. UW-Madison is a top-tier research university particularly in the biological sciences. Madison is a great place to live. It has all the trappings of a bigger city without the traffic and pollution. People are very friendly too.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy playing with my son, hiking and biking.