CV

vayu photo

Vayu Maini Rekdal

mainirekdal@g.harvard.edu | vayumainirekdal.com

EDUCATION

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2015-present)

Molecules, Cells, and Organisms Ph.D Program

Carleton College, Northfield, MN (2011-2015)

B.A in Biology and Chemistry (Cumulative G.P.A: 3.96/4.0) Summa Cum Laude (top 2% of graduates) 

Varmdo Gymnasium, Stockholm, Sweden (2007-2010)

Natural Sciences, Research and Journalism Specialty (Graduated in top 5% of class)

AWARDS AND HONORS

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2015-2018)

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship (2014)

James Mill Peirce Fellowship (awarded to top few incoming science/engineering students at Harvard; most prestigious scholarship for incoming students at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) (2015-2018)

Sigma Xi, Phi Beta Kappa (2015)

Northstar STEM Alliance Outstanding Scholar (2014)

Harvard MCB Student Conference Travel Award (2016)

Carleton College:

Franz Exner Award for Excellence in Chemistry (2015)

Second Century Student Award (2015)

Social Justice Fellowship (2015)

HHMI Summer Science Fellowship (2013 – 2014)

Dean’s List (top 10% of class) (2011 – 2014)

Kolenkow-Reitz Fellowship for Research (2012 – 2013)

Patricia V. Damon Scholarship for Excellence (2014 – 2015)

Class of 1966 Diversity of Achievement Scholarship (2013 – 2015)

C.R.E.D.O Fellowship for Professional Development (2012)

Parents Fund for Academic Excellence (2014)

Student Leadership and Involvement Grant (2014)

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

Graduate Student (Spring 2016 – present)

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Balskus Lab, Harvard University

  • Studying gut microbial metabolism of drugs and dietary molecules, seeking to identify microbial species, pathways, and enzymes responsible for changing the bioavailability and bioactivity of xenobiotics

Research Assistant (Summer – Fall 2014)

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Balskus Lab, Harvard University

  • Designed and conducted independent research on gut microbial metabolism of soy isoflavones
  • Responsible for experimental design, data collection, and data analysis

Research Assistant (Winter 2013)

Department of Gastroenterology, Microbiome Lab, Mayo Clinic

  • Analyzed data from a large clinical study on Clostridium Difficile infection using bioinformatics
  • Devised data mining strategy to predict treatment outcomes

Undergraduate Research Fellow (Summer – Fall 2013)

Department of Gastroenterology, Microbiome Lab, Mayo Clinic

  • Conducted independent project on diet-gut microbial interactions and host physiology
  • Responsible for experimental design, data collection, and data analysis

Research Assistant (Winter 2012)

Department of Integrative Biology, Rowat Lab, UCLA

  • Investigated the biophysics of a flavor extraction method using 1H NMR, microscopy

Intern (Summer – Fall 2012)

Department of Research, Fundacion Alicia, Spain 

  • Conducted research on culinary texturizers; contributed to the Foundation’s gastronomic Lexicon

LEADERSHIP AND OUTREACH

Young Chefs: From Cooking to Science 

Visionary Advisor (2015-present),

  • Established web-based platform for science and cooking education, reaching students in close to 100 different locations across the world, including Taiwan, U.S, Bahrain
  • Developed science-cooking curriculum and teaching resources available through website
  • Managed advisory board team of 6, and oversaw strategic planning, lesson plan development, website design

Co-founder and Program Director (2012-2015)

  • Independently raised $10,000 in grants to establish two afterschool programs for underserved youth
  • Managed 20 college volunteers; in charge of developing curriculum, training volunteers, coordinating with schools
  • Established with local grocery store and college office to secure leadership and funding after my graduation

Cooking and Science Teacher (Summer 2015)   

Harvard University: Division of Medical Sciences and SEAS

  • Organized two five-week cooking-science summer camps for elementary school children in Cambridge and Allston, MA
  • Hosted weekly workshops for students and teachers in the Native American High School program at Harvard Medical School

Columnist, Science and Cooking (Summer 2014 – Present)

Chop Chop Magazine

  • Contributed articles on the science of cooking, reaching over three million families yearly

Founder and President (2011-2015)

Firebellies, The Carleton Cooking Club

  • Largest campus organization; 700 members on a campus of 2000 students
  • Hosted guest chefs and speakers, including Bill Yosses, former White House pastry chef
  • Featured in Chronicle of Higher Education, Carleton College admissions brochure

Head Product and Concept Developer, Executive Chef (Winter 2011 – Fall 2011)

A Strange Matter LLC, NYC

  • Developed and implemented new menu for Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop, increasing sales two-fold
  • Earned favorable reviews in NY Times (“Manhattan’s Best Veggie Burgers”) and Serious Eats

Chef and Cookery Coach (2009 – 2011)

YoungNYChefs, MatRatt 

  • Founded two organizations using cooking to empower teenage boys in the U.S and Sweden
  • Managed team of cooking teachers, oversaw budget, devised marketing strategy and branding

Private Chef and Founder (2012 – 2015)

The Northfield Kitchen

  • Hosted cooking classes and catered events for 10-200 guests

Prep Cook (2010)

Red Rooster Harlem, NYC

Sous Chef (2012) 

Abbekas Hamnkrog, Sweden

POSTERS AND PRESENTATIONS

C.difficile exploits a complex metabolic niche associated with dysbiosis in patients with diarrhea (2016)

  • Second-author abstract presented by others at Keystone Gut Microbiota, Metabolic Disorders, and Beyond

Edible Laboratory: Using Food as a Medium to teach STEM

  • Invited by NYC Department of Education to train 30 public school teachers in cooking-science curriculum

Nature’s FARMacy: inspiring scientific geniuses through cooking (2016)

  • Invited talk presented at 92st Y in NYC, as the first lecture in their Genius Week festival featuring Nobel Laureates and policy leaders. I published an article in Huffington post conjunction with this. You can find it here. 

Implementing Science and Cooking Education in the Classroom (2015)

  • Talk presented to 80 public school teachers at Harvard Life Sciences Outreach program teacher retreat

Young Chefs: Teaching Science through Cooking (2015)

  • Poster presented at Harvard Molecular and Cellular Biology retreat

Stretchy Ice Cream: The Science of Dondurma (2015)

  • Public lecture with chef Bill Yosses at Harvard Education Portal; event was live streamed to over 60.000 online viewers

Young Chefs Curriculum: Engaging Students with Science through Food (2015)

  • Led three days of intense hands-on training for public school teachers as part of the NYC Summer STEM Institute

A subset of patients with diarrhea has an altered gut microbiota similar to C.diff infection (2015)

  • Second-author abstract presented at United European Gastroenterology (UEG) conference

Characterizing Soy Isoflavone Metabolism in the Human Gut (2014)

  • Poster presented at Harvard Undergraduate Research Symposium and Carleton College

Vayu Rekdal: Chef, Scientist, Visionary (2014)

  • Documentary about my cooking-science activities, produced by Carleton College Media Relations

Gut Microbial Metabolism of Xenobiotics: Understanding the Chemistry of our Co-habitants (2014)

  • Poster presented at Leadership Alliance National Symposium, Stamford,CT

Chronic diarrhea in a subset of patients with IBD and IBS is associated with altered microbiota (2014)

  • Oral presentation at Digestive Diseases Week Conference, Chicago, IL

Cooking as Kitchen Science: A Recipe for Change (2013)

  • Invited speaker at TEDxCarletonCollege

Shaping the World Within: Diet-Microbial Interactions in GI transit (2013)

  • Poster at Mayo Clinic Research Symposium, Northstar STEM Alliance Conference, Carleton College

Cooking and Science:  The Young Chefs Experience (2015)

  • Interactive demonstration presented for 300 attendees the New York Times Travel Show

Young Chefs: Blending Cooking and Science (2015)

PUBLICATIONS

C.difficile exploits a complex metabolic niche associated with microbial dysbiosis in patients with diarrhea. Vanessa Hale, Eric Battaglioli, Jun Chen, Patricio Jeraldo , Vayu Maini Rekdal , Lutfi Huq  Samuel Smits  Sahil Khanna , Darrell Pardi, Madhusudan Grover, Robin Patel, Heidi Nelson, Nicholas Chia, Justin Sonnenburg, Gianrico Farrugia, Purna C Kashyap. Submitted.

Rekdal, V.M. et al. Chronic Diarrhea in Subset of Patients With IBD and IBS is Associated With Altered Microbiota

Abstract published in Gastroenterology , Volume 146 , Issue 5 , S-83, 2014

A Chef’s Guide to Gelling, Thickening, and Emulsifying Agents. CRC Press, October 2014, Alicia Foundation (http://alicia.cat). I contributed original research and writing to this book, along with other members of the Foundation Alicia team

SKILLS

Language: Native Swedish and English speaker, basic knowledge of Spanish

Laboratory: fluorescence microscopy, cell culturing, electrophysiology, staining, murine model, C.elegans model, anaerobic culturing, PCR, cloning, Gibson Assembly, protein purification, UV-VIS/IR/Laser spectroscopy, 1H and 13C NMR, basic organic synthesis and purification methods, HPLC, LC-MS.

Computation and Analysis: MATLAB, Adobe Illustrator, QIIME, PICRUST, HUMANN, LEFSE, GENIUS, terminal interface, office suite, Adobe Indesign, VMD software, Kaleidograph, S+ statistical software, Mathematica.

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