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Photo of Ani Srinivasan
July 21, 2021

BME student earns top UW-Madison undergraduate honor

Written By: Tom Ziemer


Over the course of his four years as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ani Srinivasan learned to navigate—and, eventually, appreciate—both the incremental triumphs and the frustrating setbacks inherent to performing research.

The biomedical engineering student persevered and emerged inspired to continue challenging himself by pursuing an MD/PhD degree after graduating in May 2021. That tenacity, along with a resume packed with three majors (biomedical engineering, history and neurobiology) and a slew of volunteer work, earned him the 2021 Theodore Herfurth Award for Comprehensive Undergraduate Excellence, one of the oldest and most prestigious student awards at UW-Madison.

“I’ve gained a lot from my time at UW-Madison and grown as a student, caregiver and researcher,” says Ani, who’s currently applying to MD/PhD programs. “But beyond all that, I most value my personal growth as an undergraduate. I learned to seek out balance in my life and prioritize my emotional and physical wellbeing alongside my passions, which was critical to my resilience in challenging moments. This wouldn’t have been possible without guidance from my advisors, family and friends, who deserve all the credit for where I am today.”

It’s the second straight year a biomedical engineering student has won the Herfurth Award, after Patrick Kasl took the honor in 2020.

While balancing his heavy academic load, Ani spent all four years working in the lab of Bikash Pattnaik, an assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Pediatrics. Ani co-led a project exploring the effects of an anti-epileptic drugs on the retina. He’ll continue working in Pattnaik’s lab before starting graduate school.

In 2020, he also joined the lab of Andrew Quanbeck, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, to help develop tools that assist patients who are tapering off opioid prescriptions by better connecting them with their healthcare providers. He’s also worked with the consultancy Jump at the Sun to study the use of menthol cigarettes in African-American communities and inform public health campaigns.

He says those experiences align with his broader career ambitions.

“I plan to focus on developing and delivering accessible healthcare technologies to reduce the impact of socioeconomic status on health outcomes,” says Ani, who’s worked as a resident assistant at All Saints Assisted Living on Madison’s west side since 2018 and continued to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He’s also devoted his time to volunteering at Madison’s Meriter Hospital and Wingra Family Medical Center, as well as in several outreach programs that expose younger students from underrepresented backgrounds to careers in healthcare. As part of the Biomedical Engineering Society student chapter, he worked with the Department of Biomedical Engineering on creating a seminar about incorporating inclusion into new medical product design and testing.

Mitch Wall, an engineering mechanics major, also was one of two honorable mentions for the Theodore Herfurth and Teddy Kubly Awards for Comprehensive Undergraduate Excellence.