Vaibhav Mohanty, PhD

2023 Hertz Fellow

Vaibhav Mohanty works at the intersection of theoretical physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology to develop mutational “traps” to combat the rapid evolution of proteins in infectious pathogens and in cancer.

As a student in the Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MD-PhD Program, Mohanty is pursuing a PhD in chemistry while working with Professor Eugene Shakhnovich to develop formal connections among molecular structure, genotype-phenotype maps, and population genetics. He aspires to build better models of how fast timescale evolution is constrained by chemical structure and by features of molecular sequence spaces in order to design better targeting strategies for pathogens and cancers.

In 2022, Mohanty received his first PhD (DPhil) in theoretical physics from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. He submitted his dissertation, titled “Robustness of Evolutionary and Glassy Systems,” at age 22. In 2019, Mohanty received a master’s degree in chemistry and a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in chemistry and physics with a minor in music from Harvard University, where he was awarded a 2018 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and was selected to Harvard’s Phi Beta Kappa Junior 24.

Born in Durham, North Carolina, Mohanty grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where he developed a love for classical, jazz, and Indian music. He is now a national award-winning classical and jazz composer whose published chamber and large ensemble music is distributed and played around the world. He also enjoys working with university and community music groups and performing around the country as a jazz pianist.

Graduate Studies

Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PhD, University of Oxford
Biophysics, Physics of Evolution

Undergraduate Studies

Harvard University
Chemistry, Physics