By tackling difficult questions in computational structural biology, Vikram Sundar hopes to help scientists develop drugs more quickly, cheaply, and effectively.
Vikram will pursue a PhD in computational and systems biology this fall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he plans to combine his knowledge of physics and machine learning to tackle problems ranging from understanding protein/ligand binding for drug discovery to designing proteins with specific functions.
Introduced to the field of machine learning in computational biology as a Churchill Scholar at the University of Cambridge, he worked with Dr. Lucy Colwell on applying machine learning to predicting active ligands for protein targets, a crucial step in early-stage drug discovery. His most interesting result was a new method of training models to make predictions for targets without any prior screening data, allowing machine learning models to be used even with very little experimental data available.
While an undergraduate at Harvard University, he became familiar with physics-based simulations through an internship with D. E. Shaw Research and research with Professor Alan Aspuru-Guzik. His research there involved the development of a novel method of incorporating nuclear quantum effects in classical simulations.
Vikram received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in physics from Harvard University in 2018; and a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Cambridge in 2019. He is currently an AI resident at Google.
Outside of the lab, Vikram is passionate about diversity. As an undergraduate, he co-founded Gender Inclusivity in Math, an organization dedicated to reducing the gender gap in the Harvard math department. He is also an avid classical pianist and enjoys listening to and playing works by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff.
2018-2019, Churchill Scholarship, The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States
2017 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation
2017, Derek Bok Award for Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University
2015-2016, John Harvard Scholar, Harvard University
2015, Detur Book Prize, Harvard University
2015, Wendell Prize Finalist, Harvard University