Alumni Spotlight: Bala Venkatakrishnan


A graduate from Drs. Mavis Agbandje-Mckenna and Robert McKenna’s lab in 2012, Bala Venkatakrishnan went on to do a 5-year postdoc at Indiana University with Dr. Adam Zlotnick on Hepatitis B virus structure and assembly biophysics and now works at Syngene International Limited, a contract research organization in Bangalore, India. Although he has only been with this organization for less than a year, he loves the challenge that his work brings. As principal investigator, he runs his own lab with a focus on protein purification, characterization and structure determination. His team works on a large variety of proteins and their primary challenge is to get projects done as efficiently as possible with a healthy pace. They are constantly looking to upgrade their skills and understanding to keep up with this challenge.

Bala and McKenna
Bala and Dr. McKenna on data collection trip to Oak Ridge National Lab

When asked how his education and experience in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology helped prepare him for his career track, Bala described it as being extremely useful. He went on to say that “structure determination is an ability that requires a full apprenticeship, and I learned all of it from the best (Drs. Mavis and Robert McKenna). I have carved my own niche here because of my past work on a number of viruses during my time at UF. Most of all my thought process, approach and attitude towards my science is most entirely a product of the years of effort that my mentors, committee members and other members of the department (both faculty and administration) put into it. I still reach out to my mentors for advice regularly.”

Bala and his wife (and their cat, Capt. Murugan) braved an intercontinental journey back to India in 2017 and have settled into a good life there. He continues to represent the Gator nation in all that he does!