Dr. Harshini Mukundan is featured in our 500 Women Scientists Who Inspire deck. She is the team leader for the chemistry for biomedical applications team, and the deputy group leader for the Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group within the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Harshini works on developing novel diagnostics that can be universally used for the identification of all infectious diseases, even newly emerging ones. The diagnostic approach is based on mimicking our immune recognition – which is a universal sensing system – in the laboratory. In addition to developing these methods, she also leads the development of sensor systems and tools to be able to use such diagnostics in resource-limited areas of the world. One aspect of the diagnostic platform, the universal bacterial sensor, won a RD100 in 2018. She is also a member of the gage search platform.
Harshini’s work involves collaborating with lots of other people. She works alongside scientists in microbiology, medicine, engineering, chemistry, optics, physics, computational biology and bioscience.
“(I hope) perseverance and never giving up is something I have exemplified. Another paradigm I live by is that mistakes are the biggest learning opportunities in life – and it is ok to make them, so long as we learn from them. Finally, do not feel compelled to conform to societal norms – norms have to be rewritten for us to advance and progress as a society.” – Harshini
She has led and participated in projects aimed at developing rapid detection and diagnostics assays for breast cancer, influenza, toxic panels and others. She is passionate about STEM outreach and advocacy. She enjoys mentoring students and post-doctoral fellows and watching a new era of rising inspired scientists.
A fun fact about Harshini is that when she was younger, she wanted to be an actress – and loves dancing and drama to this day!