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Sudha Rajamani

Principal Investigator

I got my PhD in Biochemistry from the National Institute of Immunology at New Delhi (India). My thesis was about delineating the biochemical properties of sickle cell haemoglobin in a specific context. Subsequently, I joined the Fink lab at University of California in Santa Cruz (UCSC, USA) as a postdoctoral fellow where we were characterizing α-synluclein’s role in Parkinson’s disease. An unplanned set of events led me to my current field of Astrobiology. My love for this field was nurtured at the Deamer lab in UCSC. I finished my postdoctoral stint with a post doc at the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard (Cambridge, USA) prior to joining IISER Pune in 2012. In our lab, we are working to help discern the series of events that might have led to the origin and evolution of early life on prebiotic Earth.

Current Members


Dr. Anupam Sawant

Postdoc fellow

I completed my doctoral studies in chemical biology from the IISER Pune in 2016. My doctoral research was aimed at the development of robust and modular labeling methods to study RNA function in vitro and in cells. I joined the COoL lab at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2016 where we are working on the synthesis and characterization of putative ribonucleoside precursors that are potential ancestors to modern nucleobase analogs.


Manesh Joshi

Graduate student

I joined IISER Pune as a PhD student in 2016, after completing my Masters from IIT Bombay. My particular interest in this field concerns the emergence and evolution of the first protocells on early Earth. As a part of my PhD project, I am studying the potential interplay between membranes, peptides and RNA towards the formation of protocells under terrestrial hot spring-like conditions.


Shikha Dagar

Graduate student

I became a member of IISER Pune family as an integrated Ph.D. student in 2015. Currently, pursuing my Ph.D. in the COoL Lab. My project aims to look at the role and importance of surface catalysis (minerals meteorites etc.) and bioinorganic (metal ions and their complexes) moieties as potential biocatalysts in prebiotic scenarios which were present in abundance, when the spontaneous generation of other biocatalysts (ribozyme) is problematic. Apart from lab work I also enjoy dancing and watching movies.


Susovan Sarkar

Graduate student

I did my bachelors in microbiology from RKMV. I joined the integrated Ph.D. program at IISER Pune and become a part of the COoL lab family. I’m interested to understand the physicochemical properties and molecular evolution of protocell membrane on early Earth.  


Gauri Patki

Graduate student

I have completed my M.Sc. in Biochemistry from M.S. University, Baroda. Being a beginner in the field of Chemical Origin of Life, I am excited by the question of how the transition from chemistry to biology happened. In particular, I am intrigued by the idea of nonenzymatic template-directed replication under early Earth conditions. Besides doing science, I love origami, playing badminton, and writing biological science for a general non-biology audience.


Souradeep Das

Graduate student

I completed my bachelors from University of Calcutta and masters from Maulana Azad College, under University of Calcutta, both degrees are in zoology. Now, I became a member of COoL Lab family at IISER, Pune in the new year of 2020. I am interested in understanding, functionalization and evolution of protocell membranes, towards transition from non-living to living chemical systems. Apart from the scientific brainstorming, I love music, playing sports, designing and drawing, reading novels and watching movies helps to calm the storm ;-)


Raya Roy

Graduate student

I have joined the COoL lab as a PhD grad student in Jan 2021. I am interested in learning the facts about the origins of the genetic code and hope to unveil the mysteries behind it during my journey here at IISER Pune.

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Udita Bandyopadhyay

Graduate student

I have completed my Master’s in Zoology from Maulana Azad College, affiliated to The University Of Calcutta. I joined the COoL lab in January 2023. I am very enthusiastic about the translational approach of prebiotic chemistry towards synthetic biology. I am trying to understand how non-enzymatic template-directed replication may have happened in the prebiotic milieu. Apart from academics, I love trekking, listening to music, singing, and maybe cooking!!!


Sahil Mulewar

Undergraduate (BS-MS) student

I am a BS-MS 2018 batch student at IISER Pune. The very interdisciplinary nature of the field of Astrobiology is what kindles me. Currently, I am studying the role of different co-solutes in self-assembly and stability of prebiotic compartments and their evolution. My hobbies include playing the violin and watching sci-fi flics and Anime.

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Anuraag Aithal

Undergraduate (BS-MS) student

Undergrad student, trying to learn more about the origins of life. I am primarily interested in the origins of metabolism and what these first metabolic pathways could've been. My hobbies? I love watching football, playing badminton, and I am learning to play the flute.

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Kshitij Deshpande

Undergraduate (BS-MS) student

I am a fifth-year BS-MS student, currently pursuing my Master’s thesis with the COoL lab. I am interested in understanding the interactions between different molecular classes that are thought to be prebiotically relevant, especially interactions concerning lipids, and how these interactions might have affected each other’s physical properties. I enjoy talking about Indian classical music and playing the Harmonium in my free time, but a lot of it is just spent trying out new food!


Undergraduate students

Ajay Verma

Anuja Raorane

Kshitij Deshpande

Kushan Lahiri

Vruta Gupte

Anupam Bhoi

Meher Kantroo

Rajareswari S.

Aparna PK

Gaurav Arya

Prasenjeet Kawale

Yovhan Landage

Summer interns

Dhruvi Shah

Tanisha Mehta

 Sudipta Biswas

Vraj Patel

Sruja Iyer

Eric Macwan

Rudrarup Bose

Kavita Matange

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