Sharmila Adapa, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Science, will travel to Sweden in December as one of only 10 students globally to receive a 2023 Future Nobel Laureate Scholarship.
Through this highly competitive and fully funded program, students engage in online coursework and complete an in-depth study of a global issue in smaller cohorts before traveling to Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden, where they will take part in the 2023 Nobel Week Dialogues. The event features conversations about top global issues among some of the world’s most-renowned intellectuals, scientists and policymakers.
“When I found out I had won, I was ecstatic, but then I also quickly realized I was going to be missing finals and I needed to talk to my professors about making some accommodations,” said Adapa, who’s looking forward to meeting other members of her cohort in person. “We’re quite literally across the world. I think that’s really special and unique, given that we’re all studying different things and we have different interests, but we get to have this experience together and learn and grow together.”
“This award acknowledges Sharmila’s scholarly potential and exemplifies Vanderbilt’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of thought leaders,” Provost C. Cybele Raver said.
Adapa, who is double majoring in medicine, health and society and economics and plans to attend medical school, says a summer experience interning at a primary care physician’s office opened her eyes to the inequities within the health care system.
“I think that health care is a right, and it shouldn’t [just] be a privilege, which it currently is, unfortunately, in a lot of locations,” Adapa said. “That’s something I hope to work on whether it be through research or through change I can make through service and volunteering. That’s something I’m really passionate about.”
She and two colleagues within her subgroup are researching and tackling health care inequities and will bring a proposal to Sweden with actionable steps toward combatting the issue. The Future Nobel Laureates will have the opportunity to showcase their research projects in an exhibit at the Nobel Prize Museum.
“We are extremely proud of Sharmila’s exceptional accomplishment,” said Timothy P. McNamara, interim dean of the College of Arts and Science. “Sharmila is a shining example of the dedication and engagement of our students, who are prepared to tackle the most pressing issues facing the world today. I’m thrilled she will be representing the college at the global level.”
As an Ingram Scholar at Vanderbilt, Adapa said she immediately felt welcome at the university, and she credits the collaborative and supportive environment among students, professors and faculty on campus with fueling her confidence to pursue opportunities such as the Future Nobel Laureate Scholarship.
“I think there’s absolutely that sense of—quite literally—’go crazy, make the most that you can in these four years and use all the resources this campus has to offer, because they’re here for you.’ Everyone on this campus is so willing to teach you what you don’t know to help you get to where you want to be,” Adapa said.
Visiting Sweden will be a first for the Fairfax, Virginia, native, who said she plans to soak it all in and pack at least one piece of Vanderbilt swag to represent the university at the summit.
“I am so excited to represent Vanderbilt in an opportunity like this, especially because it’s on a global stage and it’s with people and professionals in their own fields who are amazing and brilliant,” she said. “I get to be a small part of that, representing the school I love to be at, so I think it’s a really special opportunity.”