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Swati Agrawal - University of Mary Washington. Fredericksburg, VA, US

Swati Agrawal

Assistant Professor | University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Agrawal's research focuses on protozoan pathogens that cause serious diseases like African sleeping sickness and Toxoplasmosis.





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Dr. Agrawal's research focuses on protozoan pathogens that cause serious diseases like African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, Leishmaniasis and Toxoplasmosis. Her work in molecular pathogenesis uses molecular techniques like CRISPR-cas9 to identify and characterize new determinants of pathogenicity in these parasites.

She is also interested in studying bacteriophages as possible cure for the rising antibiotic resistance problems in food borne pathogen Bacillus cereus and Bacillus anthracis. This work is an expansion of original research work that freshman Biology student participate in her Phage Hunters course as part of Howard Hughes medical institute initiative to provide new and engaging research experiences to undergraduate classrooms. Freshman biology student engage in two semesters of authentic research isolating and characterizing novel bacteriophages that can be used in phage therapy.

She has developed classroom interventions aimed at improving biomolecular visual literacy in students. These active learning tools use Augmented reality to illustrate three dimensional structures of proteins and nucleic acids helping students better understand and retain structure and function concepts in Cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology. Her ongoing research focuses on creating accurate and compelling molecular and cellular visualizations that will support research, learning and scientific communication.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Molecular Biology (CRISPR-cas9 gene editing)

Microscopy (Fluorescence, Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy)



Biomolecular Visualization (PyMOL, MolStar, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality)

Accomplishments (6)

2022-2023 Jepson Fellowship

for research on Characterization of cell death pathways in Kineoplastid parasites to create a new tool kit for understanding apoptosis pathway in C. fasticulata parasites

Supplemental Faculty Development Award (professional)

UMW CAS, for attending the annual conference for ASBMB and NCUR

External Grant Application Award (professional)

for writing the ABLE grant

Association for Biology Lab Educators Roberta William Teaching Grant

for developing a research-intensive course in Molecular Parasitology

American Society for Cell Biology PALM Fellowship

for developing novel classroom tools improving biomolecular visualization

Brazilian Federal Foundation Travel and Research Grant

for support and Evaluation of Graduate education to visit Universidade Federal de Uberlandia, Uberlandia, Brazil

Education (5)

Washington College, Chestertown, MD: Visiting Assistant Professor

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: Postdoctoral Fellowship

University of Georgia, Athens: Ph.D., Cell Biology

Advisor Dr. Boris Striepen

North Maharashtra University: M.S., Microbiology

Babasaheb Ambedkar University: B.S., Microbiology

Media Appearances (6)

Biomolecular visualization tools cross paths, join hands at an ASBMB meeting

ASBMB Today  online


A shared enthusiasm for biochemistry education using tools such as 3D printed models and AR models catalyzed a student-led collaboration between our students at the University of Mary Washington and Grand View.

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Biology student wins prize for work on parasite Toxoplasma gondii

Beyond the Classroom  online


Biomedical Science senior Abigail Delapenha recently attended the American Society for Southeastern Biologists conference to present her research on “Calcium signalling in Toxoplasma gondii”. She received the prestigious Lafayette Frederick Scholarship ($1200) which is awarded to only one outstanding undergraduate student each year. Abby, who graduates UMW this May, is headed to George Washington University Medical School. The work Abby presented is part of a new collaboration between University of Mary Washington and the Center for Emerging and Global Tropical diseases (CTEGD) at University of Georgia that her UMW faculty mentor, Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Swati Agrawal, started last the summer at CTEGD.

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Hands-On Introductory Bio Course Phage Hunters Propels Students into Research

Beyond the Classroom  online


Students who have been through the Phage Hunters course sequence often continue their research with biology faculty for their honors capstone projects or independent research. Currently senior Jay Boudreau is working on a project titled “Counteracting Antibiotic Resistance in Bacillus Bacteria with Phage Therapy.” Working with Assistant Professor of Biology Swati Agrawal, Jay is characterizing a novel Phage “JackRabbit” which Jay isolated during their freshman year exploring its potential for phage therapy against pathogenic Bacillus strains like Bacillus cereus (causative agent of gastrointestinal infection) and Bacillus anthracis (potential weapon for bioterrorism).

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Agrawal Pens Article on Women, Early-Career Scientist Impacted by Pandemic

Eagle Eye  online


Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Swati Agrawal penned an article for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology entitled “Lonely Science: Women and early-career scientists in academia were among those hardest hit by COVID-19 disruptions.”

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Life After COVID Lecture

UMW  online


This lecture focuses on how current pandemic-related research could guide our response to future crises, offering strategies to balance multiple novel approaches and provide high-quality, time-efficient, cost-effective research and treatment.

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Improving Visual Literacy Using AR and LEGO® Bricks in Biology Classrooms

UMW  online

Presenters: Shane Austin, University of the West Indies, Barbados, and Swati Agrawal, University of Mary Washington An interactive workshop consisting of short presentations by facilitators followed by interactive sessions where participants get hands on experience with the use of both augmented reality and LEGO® bricks to explain course content.

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Event Appearances (3)

Lecture: Phage Therapy

Undergraduate STEM Research Society  Georgia State University

Lecture: CRISPR-cas9 Gene-editing Technology

Life after Covid  UMW Elder Studies Group

Lecture: Improving Visual Literacy Using PyMOL, Augmented Reality

6th Catalyst Conversation  ASBMB Student Chapters

Articles (6)

Toxoplasma gondii Toxolysin 4 Contributes to Efficient Parasite Egress from Host Cells


2021 Egress from host cells is an essential step in the lytic cycle of T. gondii and other apicomplexan parasites; however, only a few parasite secretory proteins are known to affect this process. The putative metalloproteinase toxolysin 4 (TLN4) was previously shown to be an extensively processed microneme protein, but further characterization was impeded by the inability to genetically ablate TLN4.

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Whole body glucoregulation and tissue-specific glucose uptake in a novel Akt substrate of 160 kDa knockout rat model

PLoS One

2019 Akt substrate of 160 kDa (also called AS160 or TBC1D4) is a Rab GTPase activating protein and key regulator of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake which is expressed by multiple tissues, including skeletal muscle, white adipose tissue (WAT) and the heart.

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Toxoplasma gondii Toc75 Functions in Import of Stromal but not Peripheral Apicoplast Proteins


2015 Apicomplexa are unicellular parasites causing important human and animal diseases, including malaria and toxoplasmosis. Most of these pathogens possess a relict but essential plastid, the apicoplast. The apicoplast was acquired by secondary endosymbiosis between a red alga and a flagellated eukaryotic protist.

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An Apicoplast Localized Ubiquitylation System Is Required for the Import of Nuclear-encoded Plastid Proteins

PLoS Pathogens

2013 Apicomplexan parasites are responsible for numerous important human diseases including toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and most importantly malaria. There is a constant need for new antimalarials, and one of most keenly pursued drug targets is an ancient algal endosymbiont, the apicoplast.

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Tic22 Is an Essential Chaperone Required for Protein Import into the Apicoplast

Journal of Biological Chemistry

2012 Most plastids proteins are post-translationally imported into organelles through multisubunit translocons. The TIC and TOC complexes perform this role in the two membranes of the plant chloroplast and in the inner two membranes of the apicoplasts of the apicomplexan parasites, Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium falciparum.

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Complete Bibliography

To view a complete list of publications by UMW Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Swati Agrawal, please click on the link below.

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