Four Indian-American students have been named recipients of this year's Paul and Doris Soros Fellowships for New Americans. Each year, the fellowships honour and support the graduate education of 30 New Americans, permanent residents or naturalised citizens if born abroad; or children of naturalised citizen parents. The four Indian origin students this year are Arnav Chhabra, a medical researcher; Sundeep Iyer, a student of politics; Ramya Parameswaran, a bio scientist; and oncologist Sana Raoof. The fellowships for New Americans are grants for up to two years of graduate study in the US. The recipients are chosen on a national competitive basis.
Selected from more than 1,200 applicants, each fellow receives tuition and stipend assistance of up to $90,000 in support of graduate education in the US. A fellow may pursue a graduate degree in any professional field like engineering, medicine, law, and social work or scholarly discipline in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences. Arnav Chhabra received the award to support work towards a Ph.D. in medical engineering and medical physics.
Coming to the US as a teenager, Chhabra began working as a researcher at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, while in high school. His work there was so impressive that he was asked to lead a project investigating chemotherapy resistance and, in 2009, he was the first author of a paper in the Anticancer Research Journal. In graduate school, Chhabra is creating a chip model of the liver. The model will replicate the pathophysiology of human livers, thereby enabling a non-invasive study of liver function. He is concurrently funded by the National Science Foundation.
Sundeep Iyer has been integrating academic research with real-world litigation and hopes to become an effective voice in safeguarding democracy. His research was used in several federal voter rights cases, and his work has been cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico and National Review. In 2011, Iyer founded the Statistical Reform in Redistricting Project, whose data has been used by the Sunlight Foundation and Georgia's Legislative Black Caucus. Ramya Parameswaran, an MD/Ph.D student at the University of Chicago, researches nanoscale biomaterials that can interface with immune cells.
As a high school student, Ramya got her first exposure to scientific innovation during a summer internship at NASA. A few years later, as an undergraduate at Stanford University, her study of cancer in genetically engineered mice earned her the Firestone Medal, given to Stanford University's top undergraduate thesis. Sana Raoof will study resistance mechanisms to targeted therapies for non-small cell lung cancer. Her award will go toward her earning an MD and a Ph.D. in molecular oncology. She represented Harvard at the World Debate Championships in Botswana, hoping to sharpen her persuasive skills to eventually fight tobacco-related illness through policy.