P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Aayush Karan, 2024

PhD, Harvard University

Aayush Karan is the child of immigrants from India

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Quantum Science and Engineering at Harvard University

Aayush Karan was born to parents who emigrated from India to the United States to conduct research in cancer biology, moving throughout the country—largely in the Midwest—before eventually settling in Wisconsin. From bedtime Indian folk tales to fantasy novels, to his own parents’ journeys, stories were a central feature of Aayush’s life, compelling him to pursue many avenues of storytelling growing up, including classical piano and creative writing. His parents’ wholehearted encouragement of these pursuits along with their intense devotion to impactful research fostered a keen desire to establish meaningful relevance to broader audiences and communities—something that has strongly guided Aayush’s passion for scientific research.

Aayush 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. 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. Aayush 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, including designing folding algorithms for RNA sequences, factual correctors for large language models, and compilers for optimization problems on near-term quantum devices.

Aayush is now pursuing classical and quantum computational learning as a PhD student in the Quantum Science and Engineering program at Harvard. In the long run, 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.

  • AB Physics and Mathematics, Economics | Harvard University 2023
  • MS Computer Science | Harvard University 2023
  • PhD Quantum Science and Engineering | Harvard University
  • Davidson Fellow
  • Barry Goldwater Scholar
  • United Technologies ISEF Special Award Winner
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