Photo by Clayton Cotterell
Vikram Chan-Herur 17
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Who I was when I got to Reed: I liked science and history, was an editor of my high school literary magazine and the yearbook, and did sound tech for most of the theater productions.
Influential book: Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder is about Paul Farmer, a doctor and anthropologist from Harvard who founded an organization called Partners in Health. To solve a health problem, you need a lot of people with different perspectives and skills coming together.
Favorite class: Intro to Analysis with Prof. James Pommersheim [math 2004–].It was cool to see how to take tools we take for granted with math, like numbers, addition, and subtraction, and rigorously define and prove these.
Outside the classroom: I was an editor at the Quest, helped to start the Grail, and was one of the three science majors in charge of the literary magazine. Doing publications helped me realize how important structure and clarity is in all forms of communication—especially in science writing, where the message can get lost in how it’s being conveyed. I was a teaching assistant and a tutor and worked in public affairs.
How Reed changed me: When you’re working on publications, you just go until they’re done, often not finishing until morning. I learned I’m not a night person.
Adviser: Prof. Jay Mellies [biology 1999–]
Thesis: “Effects of PerC Regulation and Membrane Vesicles of Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli on a Pro-inflammatory Response”
What it’s about: Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a deadly strain of E. coli that causes diarrhea in children in developing countries. For my thesis, I look at the host side: what happens to the human when the bacterium shows up and what immune response does it have? EPEC injects proteins into the cells of the gut lining to evade the immune system so they can colonize the gut. It also produces outer membrane vesicles, which, in other bacteria, have been seen to assist in evasion of and in detection by the immune system.
What it’s really about: Looking at a tiny part of the host-microbe party in the gut.
What’s next: Continuing with bacteria! I’m looking at the microbiome at Verily.
Financial aid: I’m very grateful that alumni and other donors see the value of Reed and shared it with me. At Reed, we like to say we’re interrogating concepts and ideas. Diversity of experience, thought, and perspective helps us do that more completely and with more integrity. Without a strong financial aid system, we would lose a lot of those perspectives and experiences.
Word to prospies: Reed professors do a really good job of constructing classes that force you to engage with the material. But they're always willing to help you. Take advantage of that.