Bioengineering postdoc wins three-year fellowship to study physical origins of lung disease

Written by
Scott Lyon
Aug. 31, 2023

Postdoctoral scholar Samhita Banavar has received a three-year fellowship from the Life Sciences Research Foundation (LSRF), funding her work on early lung development.

She is one of 18 fellows for 2023, according to an LSRF announcement. The awards not only provide financial support but also experience managing a research budget and the opportunity to build independent research programs. LSRF was founded in 1981 by the late Dr. Donald D. Brown and announced its first class of awardees in 1983. LSRF finalists are chosen annually by the organization’s peer review committee from more than 500 applications.

Banavar’s work seeks to address the physical basis for lung development and the abnormalities that can cause a cascade of problems for newborns. Current treatments for neonatal respiratory conditions can also cause injuries and lead to chronic lung disease. Banavar and her adviser, Celeste Nelson, the Wilke Family Professor in Bioengineering and professor of chemical and biological engineering, hope to uncover the mechanical processes that drive tissue formation and organ development, with the long-term goal of better and safer treatment paradigms.

Banavar joined Princeton and the Nelson lab in 2022 from Stanford University, where she was a postdoc. She received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she studied the physics of cell and tissue elongation. Last year, she won a Mistletoe Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Momental Foundation. At UCSB, she won a Mellichamp Fellowship in Systems Biology and Bioengineering and a Herbert P. Broida Fellowship. She has also received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.