MIT students Bhav Jain and Liberty Ladd named 2022 Truman Scholars

Fellowship provides funding for graduate school and recognizes future public service leaders.

MIT students Bhav Jain and Liberty Ladd have been selected as 2022 Truman Scholars. Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence.

Jain and Ladd join 56 other scholars who were selected from 705 candidates nominated by 275 colleges and universities. President L. Rafael Reif delivered the news personally to both students.

Established by Congress in 1975 as a living memorial to President Harry S. Truman and a national monument to public service, the Truman Scholarship carries the legacy of our 33rd president by supporting and inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. For more than 40 years, the Truman Foundation has fulfilled that mission — inspiring and supporting Americans from diverse backgrounds to public service. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 toward graduate studies in the United States, as well as access to development programs such as the Truman Scholars Leadership Week, the Summer Institute, and other Truman Fellows events.

Jain and Ladd were supported by MIT’s Distinguished Fellowships team in Career Advising and Professional Development and MIT’s Truman Selection Committee, chaired by Ann F. Friedlaender Professor of History Anne McCants. McCants says, “In our increasingly technical world, it is especially important that MIT students also pursue work in public service, bringing their expertise to bear on the many pressing public challenges we face. The Truman Fellowship will give Bhav and Liberty a chance to add significant public policy experience to their already impressive portfolios.”

Kimberly Benard, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships, says, “Bhav and Liberty had shown an impressive commitment to public service alongside outstanding academic excellence. What is most inspiring about them both, however, is their deep empathy and natural leadership skills.”

Jain, who hails from Pennsylvania, plans to pursue a career at the intersection of medicine and policy, transforming health care delivery to reduce barriers to care for marginalized populations. He is majoring in computation and cognition, and has participated in scientific research at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), using computational techniques to investigate neural circuits related to PTSD, OCD, and MDD.

Jain began public health work the summer after his first year at MIT, working as a community health intern at the Cambridge Health Alliance. He analyzed population health costs for Medicaid, as well as local immigrant population needs in response to Covid-19. Simultaneously, Jain became a founding member of Compass, a student-developed Covid-19 triaging text line that connects underserved populations with nearby testing locations. They have since pivoted to focusing on issues of patient intake, scheduling, and follow-up through automated systems, with support from The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT.

Starting in March of 2021, Jain began research at Harvard Medical School/Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with physicians and policymakers ,including Paul Nguyen, Fatima Cody Stanford, Fumiko Chino, Sandeep Palakodeti, and Edward Christopher Dee. He examined disparities in oncology outcomes, health care management, and public health, ultimately publishing these findings. Jain further had an opportunity to explore public health through government service this past summer. He served as a policy fellow for the Department of Health and Human Services, designing interventions to address healthcare disparities exacerbated by Covid-19 and creating an open health data policy. This work has allowed him to explore public health through academic research, non-profit advocacy, the healthcare system, and government.

Additionally, Jain co-founded The Connected Foundation, a non-profit organization which forges intergenerational connections between youth and seniors, and partners with health care systems to support seniors transitioning from inpatient or clinical to home-based care in 20 states. Most recently, Jain is partnering with Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering, Emery Brown, and a graduate student to develop StatsAcademy, an online probability and statistics education platform designed for K-12 students. Brown says, “During his time at MIT, he has clearly demonstrated the ability to engage with key stakeholders through his academics, research, and public service. The unique blend of interpersonal and problem-solving skills that Bhav possesses will position him to be an empathetic leader in medicine and health care economics and health care policy.”

Ladd, who hails from Georgia, studies mechanical engineering and political science. A member of Air Force ROTC, she hopes to commission as an Intelligence Officer in the Space Force after completing her graduate studies in political science. After fulfilling her military commitment, Ladd plans to work to increase equitable representation in elected office.

In her first year at MIT, Ladd enrolled in a special subject course, 17.S918 (Elections by the Numbers), in which she pursued questions about electoral equity, forecasting elections, and electoral systems. She was so inspired by the course that she began research with the instructor, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor Charles Stewart III, the summer after her first year and is still working with the MIT Election Laboratory.

Stewart says, “Liberty Ladd continues a long tradition at MIT of students who view their education as part of a path to improve life of all Americans. In Liberty’s case, her chosen career ambition, of being an Air Force officer is linked to her academic and intellectual interests of making elections more accessible to all Americans. It is a reminder that what makes America worth defending is grounded in the health of its democratic institutions.” When she worked with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project to ensure the 2020 election cycle was safe and equitable, she confirmed her commitment to improving the equity and representativeness of U.S. elections. Her goal is to remove implicit and explicit barriers to voting and to ensure the representative nature of American democracy is upheld. She plans to continue this research in graduate school.

Ladd interned with Senator Jon Ossoff’s legislative policy team this past summer, where, among other things, she drafted recommendations on the For the People Act (2021 electoral reform omnibus bill). As a high school student, Ladd represented the First Congressional District of Maine on education policy and advocated for greater student involvement. She has continued to devote herself to improving her advocacy skills through the MIT Mock Trial team, where she served as captain, and led their team to a first-place finish for the first time in MIT history. In addition, Ladd is currently a player on MIT’s varsity field hockey team, and has been named to the NEWMAC All-Conference First Team (2021) and the NEWMAC Academic All-Conference Team twice (2020, 2021).

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