Two Penn students awarded Truman Scholarships

Third-year students Aravind Krishnan and Tej Patel are both in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management.

photos of two students
Two Penn third-year students, Aravind Krishnan (left) and Tej Patel, have received Harry S. Truman Scholarships. (Images: Courtesy of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships)

University of Pennsylvania third-year students, Aravind Krishnan and Tej Patel, have received Harry S. Truman Scholarships, a merit-based award of as much as $30,000 for graduate or professional school to prepare for careers in public service.

Krishnan and Patel are both majoring in molecular and cell biology, as well as health care management and policy and statistics, in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, a dual-degree program in the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences.

They are among 60 Truman Scholars from 54 U.S. colleges and universities selected this year from 709 candidates nominated by 285 institutions. They are the 31st and 32nd  Truman Scholars from Penn since the first awards in 1977.

Krishnan, from Newark, Delaware, co-founded ToxiSense, a biosensor technology for detecting bacterial toxin contamination and screening for bacterial infections. He conducts research in the Perelman School of Medicine’s Greenberg Lab, where he works on understanding DNA damage repair mechanisms. He is development chair of the Shelter Health Outreach Program, a Penn undergrad-led organization that runs hypertension screening clinics across Philadelphia and partners with Penn Medicine to operate mobile primary care clinics and a free clinic in West Philadelphia. In that role, Krishnan also organized a citywide health needs assessment, interviewing over 100 people at shelters across Philadelphia. Based on the findings, he then helped launch a mobile dental clinic program with Penn Dental Medicine. He has also worked on equity in care delivery abroad, including at the Aravind Eye Hospital in India, through the Center for the Advanced Study of India. Krishnan is a Perry World House Student Fellow, U.N. Millennium Fellow, and recipient of the Wharton Social Impact Research Experience grant and Hassenfeld Foundation Social Impact Grant. He has received several awards and prizes, including the Perelman Grand Prize at the Penn Venture Lab Startup Challenge. He plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. focused on immunology and infectious disease.

Patel, from Billerica, Massachusetts, is interested in making health care systems more equitable and cost-effective. He has co-authored 19 peer-reviewed research manuscripts, 10 as first-author, on radiation oncology, health economics, and care delivery. Patel works in Penn Medicine's Radiation Oncology and Breast Surgery departments, as well as the Human Algorithm Collaboration Lab, where he led a systemwide study examining the cost-effectiveness of a machine-learning intervention meant to increase serious illness conversations in end-of-life care. Patel co-founded the Social Equity Action Lab, a youth-led think tank that brings together students, institutional partners, and policymakers to inform legislation on key health care issues. On campus, Patel is the director of the Locust Bioventures group, coordinator for the Netter Center Pipeline Program, and policy/outcomes researcher for the Shelter Health Outreach Program. He also has interned with the Mongan Institute for Health Policy and Institute for Healthcare Improvement, working on projects covering Medicare Part D policy and alternative payment models. Patel plans to pursue an M.D./M.P.P. with a goal to improve nationwide care delivery.

The students applied to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship program with assistance from Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships

In addition to funding, Truman Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some graduate institutions, leadership training, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to President Truman. The foundation has a mission to select and support the next generation of public service leaders.