Stanford student selected as 2010 Truman Scholar

The scholarship provides money for graduate study and leadership training.

Varun Sivaram

Varun Sivaram's career goal is to become an international climate negotiator.

Varun Sivaram, a junior majoring in engineering physics and international relations, recently won a Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study to college students committed to careers in public service.

Sivaram, 21, of Saratoga, Calif., was one of 60 students across the country named last month as Truman Scholars by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

The foundation, established by Congress in 1975, chooses scholars on the basis of "leadership potential, intellectual ability and the likelihood of making a difference."

In addition to receiving financial support for graduate school, Truman Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions. They also receive leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.

Sivaram, whose career goal is to become an international climate negotiator, has studied energy policy, international strategic interaction and solid-state physics on the Farm.

He spent last summer at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München researching solar cells under a German government fellowship for American students.

Before arriving at Stanford in 2007, Sivaram spent a summer working on thin-film photovoltaics at Nanosolar Inc., a San Jose company that makes solar electricity panels specifically designed and developed for solar power plants.

"I'm really interested in the challenge of transitioning to a renewable energy infrastructure," Sivaram said in an email. "Since I've done a lot of basic science research on solar cells, I've also been attracted to public policy in photovoltaics – for example, coming up with municipal financing schemes. More broadly, I'm also interested in international trade dynamics in renewable energy, and in the design of a global emissions trading framework."

Sivaram, who was selected for the honors program at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford, plans to write an honors thesis about the security implications of renewable energy in developing countries.

Currently, he is serving as chair of the Undergraduate Senate at Stanford. Sivaram also is a member of the Stanford University Bhangra Team. Bhangra is a traditional dance form originating from Punjab, India, known for its bass-infused beats and high-energy movements.