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Fellows' Bios

Spring 2010 Fellows

AbdulRasheed Alabi

ABDULRASHEED ALABI is pursuing MD and neuroscience PhD degrees at Stanford Medical School.

AbdulRasheed is the son of supportive Nigerian parents who were seeking advanced degrees in the United States.  He grew up in Nigeria but then returned to the United States to pursue a degree.

AbdulRasheed completed an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University where he was, and remains at Stanford, an active member of the Muslim community amongst other activities. 

Balancing complex personal and financial responsibilities, AbdulRasheed soon made his mark as a young researcher, a student leader, and a civic volunteer. For three summers, he conducted biomedical research with Dr. Emery Brown at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital culminating in a co-authored article in the American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology.  As an Undergraduate Scholar at the National Institutes of Health, he worked with Dr. Kenton Swartz on electrical signaling proteins in the nervous system, research that netted him a first-author article in Nature

At Stanford AbdulRasheed has been leader of the Student National Medical Association and the annual SUMMA (Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance) conference—where over 500 young people are encouraged to consider science and medicine.

AbdulRasheed plans on a career as a physician-scientist-public advocate intent on innovative basic science for diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative applications. He also has a defined interest in international scientific exchange for biomedical development and enhanced educational opportunities in Africa.


Shah Ali

SHAH R. ALI is a medical student at Stanford University, Shah is working in the lab of Irving Weissman, where he is studying cardiogenesis using embryonic stem cells. 

Shah came to this country from Pakistan at the age of 10. He quickly adapted to life in New Jersey and excelled in math and science: he spent two summers doing research in chemistry at New York University.

Shah graduated summa cum laude in three years from the Honors College at the Newark campus of Rutgers University, where he spent additional years on a nanotechnology project to detect dopamine for potential diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. His work led to several first- and second-author publications in Journal of the American Chemical Society and Analytical Chemistry, among others.

Shah has recently become interested in neglected tropical diseases: in addition to helping organize a conference at Stanford Law School on access and drug development for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), he is leading the Stanford chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and a related lecture series. He has also interned at the Institute for OneWorld Health. He hopes to dedicate his career to drug development for NTDs.


Oscar Baez

OSCAR BAEZ is a Foreign Service Officer at US Department of State, based in China. 

Oscar moved from Santo Domingo to Boston with his family at age three.

Oscar received his BA in political science from Amherst College in 2008. He completed an MPP at Harvard Kennedy School in 2011.

As a student at Amherst, he studied abroad in China, Italy, and Argentina. On campus, Oscar worked for the Center for Community Engagement, was a student leader of the activist group La Causa, and developed a service opportunity for Amherst students in rural Dominican Republic.

Recipient of a Thomas J. Watson fellowship, Oscar traveled to seven countries to study efforts in each case to promote the status of an endangered minority language.  A polyglot himself, he is fluent or proficient in Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, Portuguese, English, and studied Latin at Boston Latin School.

Oscar is committed to pursuing a public service career, and has interned in the Massachusetts State House and US District Court, in Senator Ted Kennedy’s Education office on Capitol Hill, and most recently in the Obama White House. Oscar is currently working in his native Dominican Republic on Haiti relief efforts for the Clinton Foundation. 


Isra Bhatty

ISRA BHATTY is currently completing her DPhil at Oxford, which she expects to finish in July, after which she will be working with at-risk youth in Washington, DC. She will also be clerking for Judge Tatel on the D.C. Circuit beginning August 1, 2013

Isra and her parents are naturalized citizens. 

After studying economics and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, Isra went on to Yale Law School, where she completed a JD. A Rhodes Scholar, she also received an MSc in evidence based social intervention with distinction and a DPhil from the University of Oxford.   

Drawing on her family’s own experiences, Isra has organized and led efforts to promote inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the United States. As an undergraduate, Isra coordinated a number of inner-city programs on the south side of Chicago and has continued to work with at-risk youth during her time in the U.K.  She has worked with the Department of Homeland Security on projects focused on countering radicalization and violent extremism.

Isra aspires to combine her research at the University of Oxford and her legal training at Yale to address two problems faced by our criminal justice system: the dearth of research establishing the effectiveness of intervention initiatives, and the subsequent failure of policy makers to identify and implement proven programs. 


Andy Chen

ANDY CHEN is completing his MFA in graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Andy was born in Los Angeles to Taiwanese immigrants.

In 2009, Andy graduated from Princeton University where he majored in sociology and graduated magna cum laude with election to Phi Beta Kappa. He then attended Rhode Island School of Design in September, 2010 for a three-year MFA in graphic design.

Andy founded Princeton’s first graphic design initiative, the Student Design Agency, and was awarded the Pyne Honor Prize, the university’s highest general undergraduate distinction. 

Chen’s work focuses on design that addresses issues of social concern. His “Own What You Think” campaign against anonymous online hate speech garnered the attention of ABC’s “20/20” and BusinessWeek. In the summer of 2009, he completed an internship under Paula Scher at the New York office of Pentagram Design. Currently, as Fulbright Research Associate at the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre, he is partnering with Age UK to create graphic design solutions that address social stigma surrounding aging and sexuality.


Sean Chen

SEAN CHEN   is currently pursuing his Artist Diploma with Hung-Kuan Chen at the Yale School of Music as a George W. Miles fellowship recipient.

Raised in the Los Angeles area, Sean is the son of immigrants from Taiwan.

Sean completed college at Juilliard, where he was a student of Jerome Lowenthal and Matti Raekallio. He then completed an advanced degree in piano performance in the fall at Juilliard, in preparation for a career as an internationally-touring soloist and a professor of piano. 

Sean’s piano performances have won first prize in the Juilliard Concerto Competition (2008) and the prize for the Best Performance of an American Work at the Cleveland International Piano Competition (2009). He was also a finalist in the Juilliard Gina Bachauer Competition. 

Sean Chen is the 2013 DeHaan Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association. He also won Third Prize at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, becoming the first American to reach the finals since 1997. Sean was second Prize winner at the 2011 Seoul International Music Competition, Third Prize winner at the 2013 Morocco Philharmony International Piano Competition, and prizewinner at the 2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition, Mr. Chen has performed with several orchestras, including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz, Suwon City Philharmonic under Dai Uk Lee, New West Symphony with Boris Brott, and the Juilliard Orchestra under David Atherton. 

Steinway and Sons has recently released his solo album, La Valse, a product of his American Pianists Association prize.


Zahir Dossa

ZAHIR DOSSA is at MIT where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in sustainable development.

Zahir was born in Canada before moving to Texas to parents of Indian heritage who had settled in, and then fled during the socialist regime from, Tanzania. 

Zahir gained admission to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to complete a BS. Funded as an undergraduate by the Gates Foundation, Zahir graduated with majors in electrical engineering and computer science along with management. He went on to receive an MEng in Computer Science while pursuing his current Ph.D. program.

At MIT, Zahir and a fellow student founded an organization to distribute low-tech but very inexpensive irrigation pumps to low-income farmers in Sudan.  Their efforts were featured in an article in Popular Mechanics and a report on BBC World Radio.  Their organization has received various awards, including the $10,000 Davis Peace Prize. 

Continuing with his interest in international development, Zahir has created a curriculum for practitioners and is working to create a minor in international development at MIT.


Tarek Ghani


TAREK GHANI is in a Ph.D. program in business and public policy at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley

Tarek was born in the United States to a Lebanese mother and an Afghan father, both recipients of US political asylum after violent conflict erupted in their home countries.  

Tarek graduated from Stanford in 2004 with a BS in symbolic systems and Honors in international security after delivering the Baccalaureate graduation address. 

While an undergraduate at Stanford University,  Tarek suspended studies in 2002 to serve as special assistant to his father, who had returned to Afghanistan to serve as the country’s Finance Minister.  In that role, he helped develop national plans for development and state-building reforms.  After two years analyzing international security and development policy in Washington, DC, he then managed a $15 million grant budget with Humanity United, a philanthropic grant-maker committed to ending modern-day slavery and mass atrocities. 

A Truman Scholar, Tarek was selected as the winner of a grant competition organized by the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), and had the opportunity to present his current project to a large audience. Here is a short (8 minute) video describing one of his current research projects in Afghanistan: click here


Reshmaan Hussam

RESHMAAN HUSSAM is pursuing a Ph.D. in developmental economics at MIT.

Reshmaan is the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants to this country. She was born in Virginia.

Reshmaan graduated from MIT as a Burchard Scholar (a member of the Institute’s interdisciplinary honors program) in 2009 with a major in economics. 

Reshmaan has undertaken empirical and interview-based research on such subjects as teenage pregnancy, dowries and independence of women in financial  decisions, and the effects of patriarchy on the implementation of micro-credit.  She has also taken leadership roles in MIT’s interfaith dialogue group and the MIT Muslim Students Association.  She served as a youth columnist for America’s Muslim Family Magazine and an editor of a Cambridge-wide journal on Islam and society, Ascent Magazine. 


Amit Jain

AMIT JAIN, MD is currently a senior resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He plans to specialize in spine surgery. Amit’s work on complex spinal reconstruction in adults and deformities in children has already resulted in 40 peer-reviewed publications, more than 50 podium presentations, and multiple awards at national and international forums. Amit is passionately committed to serving and advocating for his patients through his clinical and research efforts.

Amit was born in India and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was eleven. He graduated valedictorian from Folsom High School (2004), High Honors in Bioengineering from University of California at Berkeley (2008), and M.D. class speaker from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2012). In addition to being a Soros Fellow, Amit was a Rhodes scholarship finalist. Amit enjoys travelling, running, and spending time with his family in Portland, OR. 


Bowen Jiang


BOWEN JIANG is a neurosurgery resident at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Bowen was born in Beijing and grew up in Shenyang, China before immigrating to the US at the age of ten. He and his parents are naturalized citizens and reside in Clarksburg, MD.

Bowen received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Stanford University and his doctor of medicine (MD) from Stanford School of Medicine. In medical school, he received grant funding from the American Brain Tumor Association and American Heart Association Stroke Council. His research at Stanford, the National Institutes of Health, and Johns Hopkins has led to over 30 manuscripts and chapters, notably in Neurosurgery, Journal of Neuro-Oncology, and Cochrane Review.

Between college and medical school, Bowen served as a Health Policy Fellow for the former US Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Susan Blumenthal, where he produced editorials for the Huffington Post and San Francisco Chronicle and spearheaded letter-writing campaigns to the Obama administration that played a role in lifting the HIV/AIDS immigration ban. A social-entrepreneur, he is a founding member of Cascade Clean Energy Inc., a cleantech start-up aimed at curbing the spread of wastewater-borne diseases. He also has interest in global surgery outreach and volunteered at CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda, where he participated in the neurosurgical management of children with hydrocephalus.

After his residency training, Bowen intends a career in academic neurological surgery with a focus on neuro-oncology. 


Jonah Lalas

JONAH LALAS  is currently a law clerk at the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Jonah is the son of Filipino immigrants. He was raised in California.

He graduated summa cum laude with election to Phi Beta Kappa from University of California at Los Angeles where he was the student speaker at his commencement ceremony.  He did summer internships with the ACLU of Southern California, the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C. and the UCLA Labor Center, where he organized Filipino healthcare workers.

Upon completing his undergraduate degree, Jonah joined the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles. He then moved to Texas where, as organizing director, he led the effort to organize the 13,000 city employees in Houston.  The campaign resulted in a historic first contract that included improved wages and benefits and established a $10/hr minimum wage.

Jonah graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 2012, where he was Senior Articles Editor for the Berkeley Journal for Employment and Labor Law and worked as a law clerk at Altshuler Berzon and Leonard Carder, both union-side labor law firms.   

After law school, Jonah worked as an attorney on a two-year fellowship with Phillips & Cohen LLP, which represents whistleblowers against corporations that commit fraud against governments, evade taxes, and violate securities laws.  He then clerked for Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.


Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee

LAUREL YONG-HWA LEE is an MD candidate at Harvard Medical School. 

Laurel was born in South Korea and is a naturalized citizen.

Laurel earned a DPhil in immunology at Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.  She graduated from MIT with degrees in brain and cognitive science and biology.

Laurel led a large-scale study of human immune response against the avian influenza A (H5N1) virus in the UK and Vietnam. Her study culminated in a research article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, of which she is the lead author.   

At MIT, she was a varsity rower and was named a Burchard Scholar for excellence in the arts and humanities.  She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NIH Exceptional Summer Research Award, Glamour magazine's Top 10 College Women of the Year, and USA Today’s All-USA College Academic First Team. Laurel envisions a career as a physician-scientist.  


Margaret Lee

MARGARET LEE is concurrently a second-year PhD student in social welfare at UCLA and continues to specialize in mental health policies and programs for Asian communities.

Margaret was born in Glendale, CA to parents who had emigrated the previous year from South Korea.  

As a student in the UCLA Honors Program, Maragret double majored in sociology and Asian American studies, graduating summa cum laude with election to Phi Beta Kappa.  She the earned a master’s degree in social work at UCLA,

As a sophomore, she wrote her honors thesis examining the intersections of educational attainment and mental health within the Korean-American community, for which she received the Wasserman Fellowship and the UCLA Undergraduate Research Award. As a MSW student, she founded the International Social Work Caucus.  

Margaret has two years of non-profit work in China and Indonesia. Since receiving her MSW, Margaret has served as a community organizer for Asian-Americans and American Indians, focusing on mental health issues.  


Emily Martin

Emily Charlotte Martin is teaching English at a local college, translating a book by Stéphane Hessel for Skyhorse Publishing, and contributing remotely as an editor for Argos Books from Houston, Texas. 

Emily completed her MFA in Writing and Translation at Columbia University.

Emily's bilingual poetry and translations (published under her maiden name E.C. Belli) have appeared or are forthcoming in La Petite Zine, Dark Sky, DIAGRAM, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, FIELD, The Antioch Review, Western Humanities Review, Caketrain, Mid-American Review, The Dalhousie Review (Canada), Spoon River Poetry Review, Poetry Salzburg (Austria), The Florida Review and in France at Voix d’Encre, Europe: revue littéraire mensuelleand PO&SIE, among many others. Her prose has appeared at BOMBlog and Words Without Borders. Her poetry chapbook Plein Jeu is the winner of Accents Publishing’s 2010 Poetry Chapbook Contest and she was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

After spending six months in Korea, where she founded and led a Creative Writing Workshop for soldiers, dependents, and spouses on a military base, she is now located in Austin, TX. She is also currently working on her first manuscript of poems, As Told to the Zamboni, and shopping around her translation-in-progress of a classic novel by French writer René Barjavel.


Helen O'Reilly



HELEN O’REILLY is a Law Clerk at United States District Court, in New York.


She was raised in Jackson Heights, Queens to naturalized parents from Ireland,


Helen completed her JD at Yale University. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2003.


At Yale, Helen was a member of the Immigration and Legal Services Clinic and the Workers and Immigration Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. In addition, she co-directed the 16th Annual Yale Rebellious Lawyering Conference and served as co-student director of the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project at Yale. She spent her first summer at the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, in the Public Integrity Division. Helen also speaks fluent Spanish.


Following Georgetown, Helen spent three years at Advocates for Children in New York City as an education advocate for detained and incarcerated youth with learning disabilities. In 2006, she was selected as a Luce Scholar, spending the next two years in Manila and Hong Kong as an advocate for migrant domestic workers. 


Tony Pan

TONY PAN is a consulting inventor at Intellectual Properties in Cambridge MA. 

Tony grew up in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It wasn’t until he was a high school senior that his family’s green card application was finally approved and Tony was able to accept an offer of admission and financial aid from Stanford University. 

Tony graduated four years later with a BS in Physics, winning  He completed a Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics at Harvard University. 

At Stanford, Tony won the J.E. Wallace Sterling Award for Scholastic Achievement and an award for outstanding performance in physics.He also taught science to underprivileged youth and served as a resident tutor in physics and mathematics for freshmen. 

After a year at Goldman Sachs, Tony left ot pursue a Ph.D. His Ph.D. research centered on exploring a “new method to study the very first stars, galaxies, and cosmic gas at the epoch of reionization, when the first sources of light turned on in this universe.” Using Gamma-Ray Bursts as the main source of data, he hopes that his research will “launch next generation radio technologies” for astrophysics.  


Socheata Poeuv

SOCHEATA POEUV is Chief Executive Guru at goBlue Labs in New Haven. 

Socheata and her family were resettled in this country when she was two.  Her family escaped the “killing fields” of Cambodia and was settled in a refugee camp in Thailand, where Socheata was born.  She grew up in Texas. Only as a young adult did she learn from her parents that her elder “sisters” were in fact cousins whose  parents had died under the Khmer Rouge and that her “brother” was the son of her mother’s first husband, who had also perished.  

Socheata was awarded an MBA degree at Yale School of Management.  She attended Smith College, and graduated cum laude in 2002 with a degree in English literature. 

Socheata’s first film, the award-winning New Year Baby, documents her uncovering of many additional hidden aspects of her family’s experiences in Khmer Rouge-controlled Cambodia.   It was shown nation wide on PBS.  She subsequently founded Khmer Legacies to help other Cambodian families begin to share the traumas of their experiences in Cambodia with younger generations. 

Socheata was a Visiting Fellow, Genocide Studies Program at Yale University and CEO of Khmer Legacies.  


Hari Prabhakar

HARI PRABHAKAR  is now a student at Harvard Medical School.

Hari was born in Dallas, TX to south Indian parents who had come to this country three years earlier. 

Hari majored in public health studies at The Johns Hopkins University, graduated in 2007, and was selected to be a British Marshall Scholar.  Hari received his MScPH from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an MSc in international health management from the Imperial College in London.  He is 

While at Johns Hopkins Hari became aware of, and committed to alleviating, the grossly inadequate health care provided to indigenous populations in India.  He has conducted extensive health services research in tribal areas of India and has become a leading advocate of efforts to improve access to care for Sickle Cell Disease, a major public health problem internationally, over the past 6 years. To that end, he established the Tribal India Health Foundation and the Sickle Cell Disease Center in South India.

Hari simultaneously focused on improving care for sickle cell patients in the United States through numerous publications and development of action plans, guidebooks, and primers for public and private agencies. 


Camilo Romero

CAMILO A. ROMERO is the legal director for Homeboy Industries based in Los Angeles, California. 


Of Colombian origin, Camilo was born in Costa Mesa, CA.


Camilo received his B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and published two honors theses, one on the politics of Salsa music. As an undergraduate student, he funded his own way through school with scholarships and employment, and was a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar.  Camilo received his J.D. from New York University Law School. As a law student, he was elected Regional Director for the National Latina/o Law Student Association and volunteered as a debate coach for high school youth.


Camilo is committed to a career as an international human rights litigator and organizer working on labor and immigrant rights.  He has worked as a union organizer for the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores (SINALTRAINAL) in Colombia and as legal adviser with a human rights firm.

Camilo also founded BlackBrown Projects in New York, which fosters dialogue and mentorship to improve relations between African-American and Latino communities. He currently serves on the Executive Board of NYU's Alumni Association (BLAPA) and as National Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild.


Katarina Ruscic

KATARINA RUSCIC   is currently in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Chicago, pursuing both an MD and a PhD in computational neuroscience. Her present doctoral research in a pediatrics cardiology lab focuses how the electrical activity of the heart generates each heart beat and how disruptions in this process can lead to arrhythmia.

Katarina was born in Zagreb, Croatia and became a naturalized US citizen at the age of 15.

Katarina graduated from the University of Chicago, where she was a Goldwater scholar and held Howard Hughes and PCBio Fellowships. She won the Illinois Chemical Education Foundation (ICEF) award and had three majors – biology, chemistry and biochemistry, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  

Katarina received the Knock prize for outstanding academic achievement in biological chemistry and presented her honors research thesis at an international meeting of the Biophysical Society. Her work on batteries for hybrid electric cars as an undergraduate at Argonne National Laboratory resulted in two patent applications and presentations at several international conferences. Katarina’s career goals, however, focus on pediatric medicine.


Elina Sarkisova

ELINA SARKISOVA is a Consultant at the Center for Global Development, in London.

Elina belongs to the minority Armenian community that had long been resident in Azerbaijan.  When she was six, she and her family fled to Moscow in the face of anti-Armenian violence resulting from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Two years later, they were resettled in Connecticut under the US Refugee Admissions Program. 

Elina graduated from Georgetown University with a BS cum laude in international politics. She completed a MPP at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

As a student at Georgetown, she interned at the Genocide Prevention Center, the US Embassy in the Republic of Georgia, former Senator Joe Biden’s office, and BBC News. At Princeton she was elected to and currently serves on the the Board of Trustees of the Princeton-Blairstown Center, a 501(c)(3) that targets underserved inner city youth through experiential education. She made a mini-documentary about the center (link). As part of a policy workshop at Princeton University, Elina and 10 of her classmates worked with the Health Ministry of West Bengal, India to produce and publish a report of findings and recommendations on improving the health status of West Bengal, which has been published by Princeton University.

Following graduation, Elina joined the US Department of State, first at the Office of the Legal Adviser and then at the US Refugee Admissions Program (the same program that facilitated her own admission to the United States).  She served for one year as a refugee officer on the Iraq Team, and then oversaw US refugee resettlement operations in Europe and Central Asia.


Deep Shah

DEEP SHAH  is currently a MD candidate in New Pathway at Harvard Medical School and expects to graduate in 2013.

Deep was born in Atlanta, GA eight years after his parents immigrated to this country from Gujarat in India. 

Deep entered the University of Georgia with 21 AP credits; won a Truman scholarship; graduated summa cum laude with majors in biology and international affairs; elected to Phi Beta Kappa, was named the 2008 Georgia Outstanding Scholar; and received a Rhodes scholarship.  At Oxford, he earned a master’s degree in comparative social policy with a focus on health care.  

Deep has served as a Legislative Fellow in the US Senate.  He has also held internships with the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Veterans Health Administration, as well as programs that took him to Costa Rica and Japan.  Subsequent to beginning his medical studies, he worked as a project manager with the Georgia Governor’s Office to design a low-cost private health insurance plan for the working poor.  Deep’s research on Parkinson’s disease resulted in two jointly-authored publications. 


Naman Shah

NAMAN SHAH  is now a third-year candidate for the MD and PhD degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program at University of North Carolina.  

Naman was born in Charlotte, NC to parents who had emigrated from India. 

Naman graduated with highest honors and distinction in public service from the University of North Carolina (UNC), where he majored in environmental health in the School of Public Health.  He is now pursuing his MD/Ph.D. also at UNC. 

Naman was a North Carolina Leadership Fellow and an IBM Watson fellow.  Naman developed and helped introduce in Cambodia a test that identifies drug resistance in malarial parasites. 

Following graduation Naman worked in polio case surveillance and related immunization activities in a rural district in India.  His meta-analysis of research on malaria drug resistance provided an evidence base for Indian officials to modify their malaria drug policy. 

Naman's recent projects include entrepreneurial ventures such as the introduction of a new, low-cost water purifier into emerging rural markets.


Aarti Shahani

AARTI SHAHANI is a Reporter at KQED (San Francisco's NPR station) 

Aarti was born in Casablanca, Morocco to parents of Indian heritage.  Their search for a more permanent home led them to settle in this country when she was a baby. 

Aarti attended the University of Chicago, where she was an honors graduate in anthropology in 2002. She received her master's in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

While she was growing up, her father and uncle ran afoul of immigration requirements. She spent the better parts of nine years in an effort – eventually successful – to avert her father’s deportation. She drew on these experiences with immigration-related bureaucracies and courts systems to establish and lead Families for Freedom, a non-profit which assists families that have members who are under threat of deportation.  Her advocacy efforts have been publicized on National Public Radio, in numerous newspaper articles, and through commentary and bills that were addressed in Congress.  


Shirag Shemmassian

SHIRAG SHEMMASSIAN  is currently pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology at UCLA.

Shirag is of Armenian descent.  He was born in Santa Monica, CA to parents who emigrated from Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. 

Shirag was an undergraduate at both UCLA and Cornell, graduating from the latter with a degree in human development.  

He has worked extensively with Armenian and other immigrant communities, participating in Cornell’s Urban Semester Program, during which he volunteered at a hospital in addition to mentoring youth in underserved neighborhoods in Brooklyn. 

Living with Tourette Syndrome, Shirag has focused his work experience and scholarship on the pathophysiology of childhood behavioral disorders, including ADHD and Tic disorders.  Shirag will spend next Summer conducting research and working in either special education or mental health reform.


Dena Simmons

DENA SIMMONS   is the Associate Director of Education and Training at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She received an Ed.D. in Health Education from Columbia Teacher's College.  

Dena grew up in the Bronx. Her mother came to this country from Antigua as a very young woman, alone and without significant resources.  

Showing great academic promise, Dena obtained support to attend a Connecticut prep school and subsequently won a Truman Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College as a Spanish major and teacher education minor.  She continued her academic training at Pace University where she earned a Master’s degree in childhood education in 2008.

Dena served as a public health volunteer in Antigua, where she worked with the Directorate of Gender Affairs to provide better health services for Dominican sex workers.  Awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Dominican Republic, Dena studied the collaboration between schools and health agencies in efforts to prevent teenage pregnancy.

Dena has taught for several years in the South Bronx, first with Teach For America and then with the Ed.D. program at Columbia Teachers College. 


Vanara Taing

VANARA TAING is a freelance editor based in Los Angeles. Her current project is entitled 'The Killing Fields of Haing S. Ngor' a documentary produced by DeepFocus Productions.  

Vanara was born in a Thai refugee camp to Cambodian parents.  In 1979, her parents escaped on foot from Cambodia during the Vietnamese invasion of their country.  Two years after Vanara was born, the family was resettled in Washington State.  Her parents divorced and Vanara and her two siblings were raised by a single mother.

Vanara attended Scripps College and, at graduation, won the award for the best thesis in the English Department.  She subsequently received a master’s degree from Harvard’s School of Education. She received her MFA from the American Film Institute (AFI). Her thesis film, SAMNANG, which she wrote, was a National Finalist for the Student Academy Award.

Prior to AFI, Vanara was a producer at StoryCorps, a national oral history project. Her producing credits were awarded a 2012 George Foster Peabody Award and a 2013 duPont-Columbia Award as part of the collaboration between StoryCorps, NPR, POV, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.


Philip Tanedo

PHILIP TANEDO is at Cornell University, Philip is pursuing a PhD in physics with support from the National Science Foundation.

Philip was born in Los Angeles to parents who had emigrated from the Philippines. 

As an undergraduate at Stanford, Philip won a Goldwater scholarship, graduated with majors in physics and mathematics, and was awarded a British Marshall Scholarship. Under Marshall auspices, Philip earned a master’s degree in physics from Durham University and a Certificate of Advanced Study (with merit in mathematics) from Cambridge University.

As a teenager, Philip had been largely unsuccessful in trying to find Asian-American – and particularly Filipino-American – role models.   As a result, he has worked hard to serve as an active role model for Filipino-American youth who are interested in science and mathematics. 

Philip blogs on his life and research via the Large Hadron Collider website.


Quang Tran

QUANG TRAN is a Principal Consultant at the Parthenon Group in San Francisco. 

Born in Vietnam, she emigrated with her parents and two siblings from Vietnam in 1993 to southern California, where they currently reside.  They are naturalized US citizens.

Quang completed  a dual degree program in education and management at Stanford, graduating with her MBA and MA in 2012. She is a graduate of Harvard with a BA in social studies, graduating magna cum laude in 2005.

At Harvard, she was a John Harvard Scholar, Gates Millennium Scholar, and received the Mill-Taylor Prize for Best Essay in Social Theory. She headed the Harvard Vietnamese Association and volunteered with Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment Programs.

Quang spent several years in finance and industry before becoming manager of strategic planning for Green Dot schools in 2008, an effort in the poorest areas of Los Angeles to provide eighteen charter high schools.  (See: http://www.greendot.org). She now works for the Parthenon Group. 



Yifan Xu

YIFAN XU is pursuing MD and PhD degrees at the Cornell/Rockefeller University/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional program. 

Yifan was born in Beijing, and lived with her grandparents for two years while her parents established themselves in the United States.  Yifan joined them when she was six and the family eventually settled in Eden Prairie, MN. 

Yifan was admitted to Duke University, where she won undergraduate scholarships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation.  Yifan graduated cum laude in biology and visual arts 

Yifan founded and served as editor and graphic designer for an undergraduate journal that published work on mind, brain and behavioral research. 

Yifan's current research focuses on finding ways to modulate pain circuits so that their signals can temper the perception of pain.  In addition to this basic neural circuit research, she has also engaged in learning the realities of clinical pain management issues through patient care, taking part in a chronic pain research project at New York Presbyterian Hospital.