P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Sita Chandrasekaran, 2021

PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Sita Chandrasekaran is the child of immigrants from India

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Bioengineering at University of California, Berkeley

Raised in the Bay Area, Sita Chandrasekaran is the daughter of Indian immigrants. As a child, Sita’s parents encouraged her connection to her roots, and she grew up learning classical South Indian music and dance, performing at local community centers, such as the Livermore Temple, with her sister. 

Sita’s affinity for science was inspired by her father’s work as an aerospace engineer. With her parents’ steady support of her curiosity, Sita became deeply interested in biology and biochemistry. She studied biochemistry at San Francisco State University where she learned the importance of inclusive communities in conducting purposeful and rigorous research. 

While at SF State, Sita worked in Raymond Esquerra’s biochemistry and biophysics lab, where she near-peer mentored over two dozen students in laboratory research and biochemical methods. She also led multiple research projects, resulting in a publication with co-authorship and poster presentations at multiple national and local conferences. Sita joined the first cohort of PINC (Promoting Inclusivity in Computing) students, a minor program for biologists with peer-mentorship to train and increase retention of diverse students in computer science. As she moved through the program, she became a mentor herself, teaching students Python and facilitating research projects.

After spending a summer working part-time refining microscopes for observing plankton behavior in drops of water with Simone Bianco’s lab at IBM Research through the Center for Cellular Construction NSF-STC, Sita was inspired to join the UCSF-UCB joint bioengineering PhD program. She then joined the lab of Patrick Hsu at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, upon which the lab switched focus to developing a fast and scalable diagnostic. After finishing her training, Sita aims to have a research career in developing therapeutics.

  • BS Biochemistry, Computer Applications, Chinese Language | San Francisco State University 2019
  • PhD Bioengineering | University of California, Berkeley
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