Arish Mudra Rakshasa '19 is Earlham’s next Watson Fellow | Earlham College
COVID-19 news, plans and updates | READ MORE
Skip to Content

Arish Mudra Rakshasa '19 is Earlham's next Watson Fellow

March 15, 2019

Arish Mudra Rakshasa ’19 has been selected as one of just 41 undergraduates from around the country to receive the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 2019.

Arish Mudra Rakshasa ’19 has been selected as one of just 41 undergraduates from around the country to receive the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 2019.The Neuroscience and Biochemistry major from India will receive $30,000 in support of a year of independent study and travel to continue his campaign to eradicate HIV/AIDS. He is the 38th Earlhamite chosen for the award since 1981.

"My professional aspiration is to work at the intersection of science and society, as a science diplomat striving to unite science and government in the struggle to end HIV/AIDS," Mudra Rakshasa says. "I hope to lead intergovernmental organizations such as the World Health Organization as a scientist and diplomat in order to bring together people, communities, and nations in these efforts."

Enter the Watson. During the 2019-20 academic year, Mudra Rakshasa will travel to Australia, South Africa, Spain, Chile and France, to gain a break from the microscopic view of HIV and look at the impact that the disease has on the holistic human condition.

“My Watson year will help me ground myself in the everyday experiences of people living with HIV through an intentional year of travel,” he says. “My project is also an opportunity to learn from those who are attempting to eradicate this epidemic at the grassroots level and connect with community movements. My objective is twofold: to learn from non-profit organizations that are implementing creative community-centered interventions to combat the AIDS epidemic, and to remind myself of both the suffering and fellowship that arises from this epidemic.”

His ambitions are not new. During his sophomore year at Earlham, he taught a college-level course on HIV/AIDS and, later in his studies, participated in biomedical and global health research alongside faculty in the areas of virology, behavioral neuroscience and computational biophysics.

Earlier this academic year, he was selected by the Global Liberal Arts Alliance to represent Earlham at the sixth annual New York Times Athens Democracy Forum on full scholarship. The experience gave him a chance to network and share his goals with global leaders.

"What has shone through this process is Arish's compassion for humanity and unique ability to combine a scientific understanding with the human experience of living with HIV," says Jennifer Seely, an associate professor of politics and Earlham's Watson liaison.

Earlham is one of 40 member colleges selected to partner with the Watson Foundation, which began awarding the fellowship 50 years ago in honor of the late founder of IBM. 

A second Earlhamite will receive an alternative $15,000 award later this semester. That award, which is the result of a gift of the late Andy Cecere '45, will be given to one of three other Earlham finalists for the Watson.

"Earlham students are great candidates for Watsons because they have eclectic interests and are passionate about matters of importance in the world,” Seely says. “We hope this 50th anniversary celebration inspires the next generation of Earlhamites to chase their intellectual curiosities while preparing for rewarding futures."

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. We rank 7th nationally by Princeton Review for Best Classroom Experience and 22nd by U.S. News and World Report for commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and


Print Friendly and PDF