Stanford juniors selected as Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholars

AANCHAL JOHRI, ’18, a mathematical and computational science major, and JASON LI, ’18, a human biology major, have been awarded scholarships from the Donald A. Strauss Public Service Scholarship Foundation for their commitment to public service, outstanding leadership potential and desire to make a difference in local, regional, national and international communities.

The program was created as a memorial to the late Donald Strauss, AB ’37, who demonstrated a lifelong commitment to public service and education. The foundation annually awards $10,000 scholarships to California college sophomores or juniors who have reflected a similar commitment.

“Stanford students are known for bringing creativity and fresh perspectives to tackling complex public issues – whether the need for low-cost, effective healthcare solutions or culturally responsive approaches to fostering dialogue,” said TOM SCHNAUBELT, executive director of the Haas Center for Public Service.

Aanchal Johri, left, and Jason Li
Aanchal Johri, left, and Jason Li

Johri: Parasitic diseases such as malaria affect over a billion people worldwide each year. Inspired by a whirligig toy, Stanford bioengineers in the Prakash Lab have developed an ultra-low-cost, hand-powered blood centrifuge, or “paperfuge.” As part of the lab team, Johri helped develop the device, which separates blood plasma from red cells in 1.5 minutes with no electricity required, and can be used to diagnose parasitic diseases such as malaria, filariasis and anemia. Now, Johri would like to introduce the device to a new community in Madagascar, train community healthcare workers to use it and work with them to implement the paperfuge in their standard medical protocols. Ultimately, Johri hopes the paperfuge opens up more opportunities for point-of-care diagnostics in resource-limited communities.

Li: In response to the disproportionate representation of Asians Americans in Bay Area high school suicide clusters, Li’s project aims to provide culturally tailored, practical workshops for Asian American families to talk about mental health issues, which are often historically and culturally stigmatized in Asian American cultures. By partnering with schools, community organizers, educators, mental health professionals and families themselves, Li will hold these workshops in especially vulnerable and under-resourced areas in the Bay Area and then expand beyond, with the aim of developing educational materials through which groups throughout the country can host their own workshops to confront this urgent and underserved need within the Asian American community.

“We are thrilled that Aanchal and Jason are being recognized for this work along with other amazing students in California who are paying close attention to community needs and working side-by-side with community members to address them, ” Schnaubelt added.