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Narasha Arora, Interdisciplinary Studies Program, Alumni

Science alum is only one of a handful of non-Harvard students accepted as Harvard stem cell intern

Natasha Arora | 2009 Alumna Interdisciplinary Studies Program, Ph.D. Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Harvard University, Post-Doc MIT | Biology Department Long hours in the lab are a way of life for Natasha Arora, a School of Science alumna whose current research involves unlocking the potential of adult stem cells. It is a passion she discovered in high school.

"I was always the kid who was asking questions," admits Arora, one of IUPUI's distinguished Bepko Scholarship recipients. "How does a light bulb turn on? Why is the sky blue?"

In high school, about the time stem cell research started turning up in the news, Arora took a genetics class that piqued her interest in the possibilities of the field. Searching for a college that would prepare her for this career path, she found the IUPUI School of Science and the school's new Interdisciplinary Studies Program.

"I could go anywhere and get a biology degree, but that's not what I was looking for," says Arora, the first graduate of the school's interdisciplinary program with concentrations in molecular biology and math. "I really liked math, and I didn't want to give it up, so the interdisciplinary science degree at IUPUI was the perfect fit, enabling me to combine math and biology and tailor a program to the skills I would need to continue my work."

Continue she has. One of only a handful of non-Harvard students ever to be accepted into the Harvard Stem Cell Institute's internship program, Arora, who aspires to one day own her own biotechnology firm, had three Harvard Ph.D. programs vying for her.

For her doctoral thesis, the central Indiana native is focusing on sickle cell anemia, a disease for which new advancements in technology offer some exciting prospects for research. Specifically, Arora will be working at the cellular and molecular levels to find ways of making more definitive red blood cells as possible alternatives for treatment.