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Outstanding Immigrants: 6 Indian Americans Awarded Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans 

Outstanding Immigrants: 6 Indian Americans Awarded Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans 

  • They are among 30 outstanding immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate school in the U.S.

Six Indian Americans are part of this year’s class of Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows, made up of 30 outstanding immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate school in the United States. Selected from more than 2,300 applicants, each of the recipients was chosen for their potential to make significant contributions to the United States and will receive up to $90,000 in funding over two years. Since the Fellowship’s founding 26 years ago, the program has provided more than $80 million in funding, and recipients have studied a range of fields from medicine and the arts to law and business. 

Following are the Indian American fellows:

Shubhayu Bhattacharyay is currently an MD student at Harvard Medical School with aspirations of becoming a physician-engineer in neurocritical or neurosurgical care. At Harvard, he is researching sources of bias in medical AI to protect patient safety and equity in the clinical deployment of decision support systems for TBI care. His mission is to enhance the precision and global accessibility of TBI care with big data. He was born in Kolkata, and spent his early childhood in Thailand and Vietnam before settling in the South Bay of Los Angeles. He learned his native Bengali language and culture from his grandparents. An appreciation of his heritage helped him cherish the cultural diversity of his predominately immigrant neighborhood and perceive healthcare challenges shared between his communities in India and Los Angeles. At Johns Hopkins University, he double majored in biomedical engineering and applied mathematics and statistics with a minor in Spanish. During college, he founded Auditus Technologies, a company inventing individualizable, accessible hearing devices for adults living with dementia. In 2020, he received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a PhD in clinical neurosciences. During his graduate studies, he volunteered at Headway Cambridge and Peterborough, a charity-run rehabilitation center for acquired brain injury survivors, where he helped start an evidence-based program for building psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keerthana Hogirala was born in Tirupati, and immigrated to the United States with her parents and younger brother when she was six. Seeing her parents work hard, struggle to maintain their immigration status and finally get citizenship taught her to take nothing for granted. That pushed her to study neuroscience at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she focused on child development, trauma-informed care, and social welfare. She also led Volunteer Illini Projects, one of the largest student-run, student-staffed volunteer organizations in the country, and helped scale local non-profits serving marginalized populations. After graduating, she became a special education teacher for early childhood students at a Title 1 school in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DC Public Schools). Her leadership skills during the COVID-19 pandemic led her to be appointed as chief of staff for the chief technology officer where she oversaw the school system’s technology strategy, data governance, and multi-year digital transformation initiative. She is currently pursuing an MBA and MPP dual degree at the University of Chicago to explore how technology and cross-sector collaboration can be leveraged to create effective, integrated systems of essential services. She was one of three full-time students selected by the Booth School of Business to be a Neubauer Civic Scholar and given a full-tuition merit scholarship to pursue her MBA. Within the Harris School of Public Policy, she is a Harris Merit Scholar and the sole recipient of the Knas Family Scholarship which together awarded her a 90% tuition merit scholarship to pursue her MPP. Outside of school, she is a member of Leadership Now Project, a government advisor for US Digital Response, a Chicago fellow at New Leaders Council, and a long-time supporter of progressive political and advocacy campaigns.  

Malavika Kannan was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and grew up in Central Florida, and was aware of the impacts of gun violence, police violence, and racism At age 16, she and her high school classmates organized a school-wide walkout against gun violence. As a teenager, she organized safer, juster communities with organizations like March For Our Lives, the Women’s March, and Giffords. “Her formative experiences as an organizer influence her writing, an art form she views as inherently political, imaginative, and community oriented,” her Soros profile says. She writes about identity, culture, and politics. During the pandemic, she began writing a young adult novel  — “All the Yellow Suns” — about a queer Indian American girl growing up, fighting violence, and finding love in Florida. Now a senior at Stanford University, she a has immersed herself in creative writing, South Asian studies, and women’s literature, and will graduate with a BA in comparative studies in race & ethnicity. She will pursue an MFA in fiction to hone her literary craft and prepare for a career as a novelist and professor of literature.

Aayush Karan was born to parents who emigrated from India to the United States to conduct research in cancer biology, moving throughout the country, before eventually settling in Wisconsin. He first fell in love with pure mathematics in high school, “publishing research in low-dimensional topology for which he was named a Regeneron Science Talent Search finalist and a Davidson fellow,” his ASoros profile says. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he went on to concentrate in computer science, physics, and mathematics with a secondary in economics, graduating summa cum laude in 2023. He was elected a marshal of the Junior 24 for Harvard’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and awarded the Sophia Freund Prize for academic standing. He was also awarded a 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholarship for “his undergraduate research extending his background in mathematics to highly relevant scientific applications.” He is now pursuing classical and quantum computational learning as a PhD student in the Quantum Science and Engineering program at Harvard. He hopes to be actively involved in advancing the frontier of artificially intelligent systems and ensuring their broadly transformative potential is safely and effectively realized.

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Born and raised in Georgia, Ananya Agustin Malhotra is the daughter of immigrants from India and the Philippines. “Raised in a bi-cultural and interfaith household, she is deeply motivated by her mother and father’s family histories to advocate for a more just and peaceful future United States foreign policy,” her Soros profile says. Her interests lie at the intersection of global history, international law, and peace and security issues. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University with a concentration in the School of Public and International Affairs. At Princeton, she served as president of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, and Education (SHARE) Peer Program. As a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, she earned an MPhil in modern European history with distinction. For the last four years, she has advocated for nuclear disarmament and risk reduction through her research, scholarship, and public commentary. She has worked in Washington, DC at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to advance policies aimed at fostering a safer and more peaceful world. She is a member of the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security (YGLN) and the British American Security Information Council’s Emerging Voices Network. She has authored and co-authored several policy briefs and has collaborated on projects with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.

Akshay Swaminathan was born in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey to Indian immigrants from Tamil Nadu. His paternal grandparents immigrated to Westchester, New York in 1969, where they were one of the only Indian families in the area. “His experiences learning Indian music and language taught him the importance of overcoming generational, linguistic, and social barriers to connect with others,” according to his Soros profile. In high school, after discovering an online community of polyglots, he began self-studying foreign languages, “eventually developing pedagogical techniques that helped him learn over ten languages,” his profile says. At Harvard College, he discovered joy in using languages to connect with and serve people from different backgrounds. He served as executive director of Refresh Bolivia, a global health nonprofit, where he and his teammates built a primary healthcare clinic that serves 10,000 indigenous residents in Cochabamba. He also led Harvard Chinatown ESL, a program offering free English classes to adult Chinese immigrants, and he published five textbooks to teach English to Chinese speakers. He is the founder of Start Speaking — a platform to help language learners build spoken fluency. He has over 40 publications applying quantitative methods to problems in healthcare and is the co-author of the book “Winning with Data Science,” published by Columbia University Press. At Flatiron Health, he developed methods to analyze observational clinical data to support FDA decision making. As Head of Data Science at  Cerebral—a virtual mental health company—he and his team deployed a suicide detection system that has served over 500,000 patients across the US. He is an MD candidate and Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University and is now pursuing a Ph.D in biomedical data science.

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