Virginia Tech® home

Rachana Somaiya

Rachana Somaiya

Rachana Somaiya believes in sharing her academic curiosity – and its fruits – with the broader community.

She wrote, “I feel very passionate about providing access to education to all. This comes from the belief that education is a powerful tool that can help most people out of hardships.”

That belief is what drives Rachana to continue nurturing her curiosity and stay in academia.

To describe the fourth-year doctoral student in translational biology, medicine, and health at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, her nominator wrote:

“Not only does she purse academic inquiry that can be translated into improved health outcomes, but she communicates the science to the larger community so that it’s easy to understand and relevant. Rachana genuinely cares about the quality of her work, the culture and community in which it takes place, and how to share her work and individual purpose in a broad and engaging way.”

Rachana’s community engagement efforts during her time at Virginia Tech include leading the VTC Student Outreach team, launching the “Big Lick of Science” podcast, and working with a team to develop “Collaborative Conversations,” an event sponsored by Hokie Wellness, the Women’s Center, and the Roanoke Graduate Student Association.

For Rachana, to pursue curiosity is to collaborate and bring others along. To see the fruits of her curiosity in interaction with others is key. Her research focuses on how different cell types in the brain interact with each other during early development.

She plans to continue advanced research in developmental neurobiology after graduation and hopes to transition into a postdoctoral position.

Rachana had this to say about how she nurtures her curiosity: “Simply ask questions -- and don’t worry about what others might think. If you don’t know, you don’t know!”

Rachana, it is inspiring to see how your curiosity benefits others. It is my honor to present to you the Aspire! Award for COMMIT TO UNWAVERING CURIOSITY.