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Cal State LA biochemistry graduate receives Phi Kappa Phi fellowship

July 12, 2016

Honors College graduate Pranati Pillutla to head to medical school at Texas Tech this fall

Cal State LA’s Honors College graduate Pranati Pillutla has received the Walter and Adelheid Hohenstein Fellowship from the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Pillutla, 18, was one of only six students nationwide to earn this prestigious distinction. “I am incredibly honored to have received the fellowship,” Pillutla said. “Phi Kappa Phi’s generosity has put me one step closer to achieving my dream of serving as a physician and advocate for those with special needs.”

A Simi Valley resident, Pillutla received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors from Cal State LA in June. She was admitted to Cal State LA at the age of 14 through the Early Entrance Program in the University’s Honors College.

As an undergraduate student, Pillutla had the opportunity to conduct research on the aging processes of plants. In Professor Robert Vellanoweth’s lab, she completed her senior thesis, “Construction, Identification, and Analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana Flowering Locus T and Lipid Transfer Proteins 3/4 Double-Mutants,” which examined the molecules that may have a role in flowering.

Pillutla’s brother, who is diagnosed with autism, inspired her to pursue a career in biomedical research. Pillutla has volunteered at several organizations, including Kids Connections in Hacienda Oaks and California Hospital Medical Center. She has also volunteered for more than 10 years at the Handicapped Equestrian Learning Program, a therapeutic horseback riding center serving those with special needs.

On campus Pillutla worked to make support systems and accommodations more accessible for students with disabilities as part of the university’s Accessible Technology Committee.

Pillutla is a recipient of numerous honors and scholarships, including the Edison Scholars scholarship, the Millennium Momentum Foundation’s Best and Brightest Scholarship, and the President's Volunteer Service Award. Pillutla played the viola in the California State University, Northridge Youth Orchestras for six years. She is also an avid horseback rider.

In the fall Pillutla will attend Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to pursue a medical degree. Her goal is to become a physician researcher and to serve as an educational and health advocate for the special needs community.

The fellowship is named for Dr. Walter and Adelheid Hohenstein, who were both initiated into Phi Kappa Phi at the University of Maryland. Dr. Hohenstein was actively involved with Phi Kappa Phi for more than three decades.

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Phi Kappa Phi inducts approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni annually. The Society has chapters on more than 300 select colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines. It is a global network of the best and brightest, a community of scholars and professionals building an enduring legacy for all generations.

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