2023 Lilley Fellows Present Research Projects

After being selected to undertake in-depth research projects through EA's Lilley Fellowship program last February, four Upper School students worked with a faculty advisor and delved into their respective research over the summer. This fall and winter, they presented their final capstone projects to the EA community.

"This year's Lilley Fellows selected diverse research topics ranging from education access during the pandemic and mapping DNA to women in STEM and fostering empathy in education systems," said Director of Libraries and Lilley Fellow Program Director Lorie Harding.

Aru Venugopalan '24 spent months researching how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted unequal access to technology in K-12 education and what communities can do to alleviate this digital divide. The COVID-19 pandemic "served as a crucible, laying bare the systemic issues within our education system, particularly those related to the digital divide," Aru said. "In response, significant funding was allocated by the federal government, private donors, and major telecommunications companies to enhance technology access. While these grants provided short-term relief... they soon dried up." Watch Aru's presentation.

Ishani Khanna '25 spent months analyzing Women in STEM initiatives to understand the gender gap in the industry and do her part to empower the next generation in the field. "Why is it that one of the most progressive and democratic countries in the world continues to have a wide gender gap in STEM education, jobs, and salary?" she asked rhetorically. "Now, more than ever, the future of the US, its economic prosperity, stability, and position as a global leader, depends on an effective and inclusive STEM education system." Watch Ishani's presentation.

Nayan Shakaran '24 presented his capstone projectGuam and Puerto Rico: An Expanded Anthropological View of Population History and Legacy. In his research, Nayan aimed to combine his interests in the humanities and STEM to answer the question: "Can mapping the genetic diversity of human ethnic groups be used to elucidate their history and culture?" Watch Nayan's presentation.

Alyssa Sterner '24 studied spent several months exploring how to foster and sustain empathy within the educational system. Alyssa explained that her interest in the topic was prompted by her 2022 May Term service trip to Puerto Rico. It was here when she realized that the “unfamiliar environment” and her “limited perspective” left her wanting to empathize with people who had experienced different struggles and adversity in their lives than she had.

Established in 2018 by Mr. and Mrs. William Lilley III ’55, the Lilley Fellowship Fund awards research fellowships to students who exemplify academic curiosity, intellectual rigor, and scholarly passion. The Fellowship program is overseen by Director of Libraries Lorie Harding, and is modeled after Yale University's Scholars of the House program that ran from 1945-1995.