Isa Amaro Varas ’23 awarded distinguished Watson Fellowship
Prapti Kafle ’16 has been awarded an International Fellowship by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for her groundbreaking research in chemistry. The fellowship, which recognizes scholars for exceptional academic achievement and a demonstrated commitment to women and girls, was given to Kafle in part for her tireless work inspiring young Nepali girls to explore careers in chemistry and engineering.
After graduating from Connecticut College with a double major in chemistry and math, Kafle went on to the University of Illinois, where she’s in her second year pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering.
Her research examines crystal polymorphism and focuses on creating innovative printing methods for pharmaceuticals that will lead to more affordable drugs.
“I was really surprised and extremely thrilled when I came to know that I was selected as one of the awardees of the 2018-2019 AAUW International Fellowship,” said Kafle. “My family back home in Nepal was also ecstatic when I told them of the news.”
Kafle, who won multiple academic awards at Conn for her excellence in chemistry, conducted research with Marc Zimmer, the Jean C. Tempel Professor of Chemistry, as well as with Tanya Schneider, associate professor of chemistry, throughout her time at the College.
“Apart from the high quality education I got in the classroom, the research experience I gained in Professor Zimmer’s and Professor Schneider’s labs greatly helped me prepare for graduate research in one of the top engineering schools in the world, and I’m very thankful for that wonderful experience,” Kafle added.
AAUW is devoted to promoting equity and education for women and girls across the world. This fellowship supports full-time study or research in the United States for women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and the recipients ultimately return to their home countries to become leaders in a broad range of industries, including education, business and government. Kafle plans to remain in academia once she completes her doctorate.
“I was delighted—but not surprised—to learn that Prapti received the International Fellowship from AAUW,” said Schneider. “Her deep engagement with research projects in my lab resulted in co-authorship on two publications, and I’m pleased to see her success as a scientist and commitment to gender equity recognized in this way."
For Kafle, this work has long been a passion that hits close to home, and while she says there has been progress in terms of gender equality in her industry, there’s still a long way to go.
“Even in the 21st century, women, despite making up half of the world’s population, are still underrepresented in fields such as science and engineering,” Kafle said. “The AAUW fellowship has instilled in me a greater sense of responsibility towards girls and women in my community.”