WALTHAM, MA— She holds many awards and honors, including being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Science list and the MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 list, as well as being named an Innovation and Technology Delegate to the International Achievement Summit.
On Nov. 15, 2019, Ritu Raman, Ph.D. will be honored with Youth Award at the New England Choice Awards Gala at the Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA.
An engineer, writer, and educator with a passion for introducing biohybrid materials into the toolbox of every inventor, Ms. Raman’s research focuses on using biohybrid design to build implantable devices that sense and adapt to the body.
Ms. Raman grew up in India, Kenya, and the United States where she learned to appreciate and thrive in diverse and dynamic environments. Her life experiences have forged the belief that technical innovation can drive positive social change, and this inspires her work to democratize and diversify STEM education around the world.
Ms. Raman is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the renowned Langer Lab at MIT, funded by a Ford Foundation Fellowship by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and a L’Oreal USA For Women in Science Fellowship. In addition, she has championed many initiatives to empower women in STEM, including most recently founding the Women in STEM Database at MIT (WiSDM).
Ritu received her B.S. magna cum laude from Cornell University in 2012, and her M.S. (2013) and Ph.D. (2016) as an NSF Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Here is a brief Q/A with Ms. Raman:
INDIA New England News: What do you like most about work?
RITU RAMAN: It changes every day, and I direct the change. The great thing about being a researcher is that you get to ask and answer the questions that are most interesting to you, the questions that you think will have the greatest impact on society.
I feel like I am able to fully exercise my creativity and independence in my work, and flex different muscles… design, building, writing, speaking, etc. Every day is a unique and original challenge, and it never gets old.
INE: Who has inspired you the most and why?
RR: My mom, my dad, and my grandfather are the three engineers who have inspired me throughout my life. They all showed me that the best way to make the world a better place is to look around you, find something that’s broken, and find a way to fix it. They empowered me to identify and solve the challenges I faced, and to keep trying in the face of failure.
Most importantly, they never once made me feel that I was less able to pursue any dream because I am a girl, and that made all the difference.
INE: What has been the secret of your success?
RR: Constant support and encouragement from my parents. They are proud of me when I succeed, but also never make me feel like their love is conditional upon my success. They make it very obvious that their main goal is for me to be happy, and are always supportive of the path I choose towards happiness. When life knocks you down, it is deeply valuable to have a strong familial base.
INE: The one advice you will give to the person you love?
RR: Identify the thing you are best at, your greatest skill, and ask yourself how you can use it to provide value to society. Service to your community sustains your soul.
INE: How do you look at failure?
RM: Failure is an opportunity to adapt to a dynamically changing environment – that is what humans are built to do.
Choose impactful projects despite knowing there is a high likelihood of failure (it will make you even prouder of eventual success), and build a support system of family and friends that make failure easy to bear.
INE: Your favorite books?
RR: Feels like blasphemy for a bookworm to pick just a few, but I would like to thank the authors PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Oscar Wilde, and JK Rowling for entertaining me, educating me, and opening up my world.
INE: Your favorite quote?
RR: Gratefulness is the key to happiness.
INE: Your top three favorite movies?
RR: Bollywood Classic: Lagaan, Hollywood Classic: My Fair Lady, Contemporary ABCD: Miss India America.