‘Minimally speaking autistic’ student wins Soros fellowship for Ph.D.

April 20, 2022

You can hear Hari Srinivasan’s confident voice in his academic research papers, his Daily Californiannewspaper articles and in his poetry and essays. But in person, you’re not likely to hear him speak.

That’s because the UC Berkeley psychology major’s ability to vocalize is severely limited due to regressive autism and a neurological disorder known as oral-motor apraxia.

It closed many doors to him. But not at Berkeley, and certainly not now.

Srinivasan is the first nonspeaking person, or as he puts it, “minimally speaking autistic” to win a prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He will receive $90,000 to fund his Ph.D. studies in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

Along with Dave Epstein, a Ph.D. student in computer science at UC Berkeley, Srinivasan is among 30 erudite U.S. undergraduate and graduate students selected this year for the 1998-founded fellowship. The honor recognizes immigrants and children of immigrants “who are poised to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture or their academic field.”

Berkeley News