Smruthi works on developing integrated wet-lab and computational biology techniques for studying microbial community dynamics in complex ecosystems. She is also the lead scientist in developing and implementing one of the largest SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance programs. She was a GoMRI (Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative) scholar from 2016-2019. She won the 2018 James D Watkins student award for excellence in research instituted by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and the ASM (American Society for Microbiology) Student award in 2019. She was selected as a 2019 MIT Rising Star in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She was also chosen as one of ten Rising Stars in Science by Science News SN10 in 2022. Her research has been highlighted on CBS 60 minutes, TIME Magazine, Forbes, NBC Nightly News, Reuters, The New York Times, CNN, The Scientist, Nature, The Conversation, FiveThrityEight, JAMA amongst others.
Seer in the Sewer: Wastewater sequencing for public health
Sharon Terry, Genetic Alliance & Alice Rathjen
New efforts that are currently underway are attempting to leverage waste water surveillance data to monitor status and predict near term direction of pathogen outbreaks via linking it to patient data based on hospital observations. The overall goal is to identify potential pathogens, the related infection status in the population, and to possibly even predict resurgence of a previously identified pathogen via comparison of sequencing data from hundreds of patients to pathogen detection in a broad sampling of waste water across a given area. This panel which includes public health officers, epidemiologists, and research scientists will focus their debate of this timely subject on what promise and predictive value this approach may hold.