Assistant professor of biochemistry Ophelia Venturelli was recently named to a list of 34 young researchers featured in the journal Biochemistry’s “Future of Biochemistry: The International Issue” special issue.
“I am excited to be included in this list of outstanding new investigators,” says Venturelli, who is also an affiliate of the Department of Bacteriology, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. “The research areas are quite diverse and illustrate the breadth of cutting-edge research in Biochemistry.”
For the special issue, her and her team wrote a perspective piece on the importance of understanding and engineering the interactions of microbial communities. Microbiomes — the collections of microbes that reside in almost all environments — are extremely complex and Venturelli’s lab works to make sense of their many microbial interactions through, for example, mathematical modeling.
This is important for researchers wanting to engineer or perturb microbiomes for various uses, such as human health in the gut microbiome or biofuel production. The piece surveys the current research on biochemical pathways in microbial communities and lays out major challenges for the field to tackle.
“A quantitative understanding of the biochemical mechanisms driving the structure and function of microbial communities will enable the design of targeted interventions to steer communities to desired states for biotechnological and medical applications,” Venturelli adds.
Amit Choudhary, who graduated with a Ph.D. from UW–Madison in 2011 and is now an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University, is also on the list. In 2018, biochemistry assistant professor Vatsan Raman was named to the journal’s “Future of Biochemistry” issue.
Venturelli’s research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R35GM124774), Army Research Office Young Investigator Award (W911NF-17-1-0296), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (HR0011-18-2-0002).