'I hope one day my research could prevent the injury that cost my mom her life' 

Sasidhar Karuparti

Biological Sciences
Springfield, Mo.

Why did you choose Cornell?

I believed that Cornell would provide the right environment for me to pursue my interests in medicine and biology, something that was ultimately proved correct throughout the four years that I have spent here. Also, I appreciated its expansive opportunities for both service through the Public Service Center and research. Even in high school, I knew that I wanted to get involved in meaningful research as soon as possible, and out of all the schools that I was looking at attending, I found that Cornell had the best opportunities and actively facilitated undergraduate participation. 

In addition to the ample opportunities for research and service, the overall atmosphere at Cornell drew me in. I come from a relatively small city in Missouri, so I found the small, idyllic setting of Ithaca to be a perfect fit for me. I knew that the many gorges and the rolling hills would provide a perfect backdrop for my college experience, and unlike many other schools, the academic atmosphere is a lot more collegial and cooperative. Looking back, I cannot imagine having attended another school for undergrad. 

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

I believe that the most valuable skills I have gained from my A&S education are the capacity for inquiry and critical thinking. All of my classes have emphasized the importance of exploration and critical analysis of the subject material at hand. I have learned not to passively accept the information that is presented to me, but rather to ask deeper questions and investigate further. It is not enough that we know all that we currently know; we should constantly push to further expand our understanding. 

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

My main extracurricular activity is my research in the Han Lab, where my research focuses on studying the genetic and molecular mechanisms governing how neurons grow and pattern themselves throughout development. This research is particularly important to me since I have a personal interest in working to understand the mysteries behind nervous system development and degeneration. In 2019, my mother passed away following a hypoxic brain injury, and my hope is that one day my research can one day be used to develop new treatments to prevent and even reverse the type of injury that cost my mom her life. 

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

Probably watching the sunset or stargazing on the slope with my friends after a long day of classes. 

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

No matter how tempting, do not procrastinate. In my experience, especially in your first semester, you think that you will be able to walk away from a chemistry exam after cramming the night before, but this is definitely not the case. Additionally, try to find a good professor or other faculty member who works in an area that you are interested in. They will be an invaluable resource for advice, recommendations and even opportunities throughout your college career and beyond. 

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2021.

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Sasidhar Karuparti