Fellowship Spotlight: Helping Older Americans Weather the Pandemic

April 19, 2022

Pallavi Podapati, History of Science

As Pallavi Podapati’s coursework and research took her deeper into historical contexts that have shaped our understandings of disability, she began to wonder how she could apply her growing pool of knowledge. She found her answer in a GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellowship with the American Society on Aging.

Under the guidance of her mentor, Leanne Clark-Shirley, Pallavi focused in on how to help older Americans live a full life in the face of a global pandemic that put them at special risk. In one project, Pallavi helped develop recommendations for congregate meal services that would provide seniors with the nutritional and social benefits of coming together for meals, while remaining safe. She also created a media toolkit to help reporters cover aging with more nuance, avoiding harmful caricatures. And she advised how to make technology—such an important part of human connection during Covid-19—more accessible to older Americans.

Pallavi said the fellowship gave her practical experience, a new mentor, and, in the process, powerful new tools she can bring to her dissertation.

"I’ve found that by experiencing a new terrain, we enrich our own perspectives with overwhelmingly positive impacts for writing and thinking.” 

Pallavi Podapati, GS, HOS

Read more about Pallavi’s experience in our Fellowship Spotlight Series.

Pallavi Podapati quote

Our Fellowship Partner

ASA logo

The American Society on Aging (ASA) unites, empowers, and champions everyone striving to improve aging. Since 1954, ASA has developed and led the largest, most diverse community of professionals working in aging in America. As a result, ASA has become the go-to source to cultivate leadership, advance knowledge and strengthen the skills of our members and others who work with and on behalf of older adults. As we unite, empower and champion our community, ASA has the unique responsibility to be a strong voice and thought leader on critical systemic issues that influence how we age.


"I love helping people think differently about our own aging, and changing the social narrative from a focus on decline to one of possibilities and growth. As ASA is largely reimagining and rebuilding its programs, we felt this was the perfect time to bring on a different, unique perspective to help shape our work. Having Pallavi Podapati's knowledge and experience in disability is adding so much value to our work on the intersections of ageism and ableism.” 

Leanne Clark-Shirley, Vice President of Programs and Thought Leadership, The American Society on Aging

Learn More About GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellowships


GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellowships are bespoke opportunities for Princeton graduate students with nonprofit organizations that have partnered with the Graduate School. Host organizations work closely with the Graduate School to determine the learning outcomes and professional development goals for these immersive experiences. Each fellowship is custom-designed for you to apply discipline-specific skills, gain interdisciplinary project team experience, and receive one-on-one mentoring while contributing to the social impact mission of the organization.