Novalia Pishesha

Novalia Pishesha

Recipient of numerous scholarships, grants, and/or fellowships awardee. Graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 2018.


Hello! My name is Novalia Pishesha. I go by Nova. I was born and raised in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. Upon high school graduation (I went to SMAK Kolese Santo Yusup Malang), I started my academic odyssey in the United States at City College San Francisco, supported by numerous scholarships, for example, Vic Chow Scholarship in Biology, Thomas Hynes General Chemistry Scholarship, Math Department Endowment Fund Scholarship, and several others. Beside these scholarships, I also tutored and worked as a laboratory technician to cover my other expenses. In my 3rd year, I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley supported entirely by the ~7 merit scholarships and leadership awards, such as the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship, The Cal Alumni Association Leadership Award, and the Haas Scholarship.

From your left to right: Prof. Hidde Ploegh, me, Prof. Harvey Lodish.

I graduated in 2012 with a B.S. in Bioengineering and was awarded the Departmental Citation in Bioengineering. Afterwards, I went on to pursue a PhD in the Biological Engineering program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My thesis revolves around utilizing genetic and protein engineering techniques to generate high value, über functional red blood cells (RBCs) in the laboratories of Prof. Harvey Lodish and Prof. Hidde Ploegh at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research/MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. I had employed these engineered RBCs for treating autoimmune diseases and hyperlipidemia, as well as providing long-lasting protection against lethal toxins. My PhD was funded by Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Student Research Fellowship, Schlumberger Faculty for the Future, the Siebel Scholarship, as well as the Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship, to mention a few. I completed my PhD in June 2018.

I am currently a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University ( I am working on developing novel therapies for malaria and autoimmune diseases, jointly co-mentored by Prof. Aviv Regev at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Prof. Manoj Duraisingh at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Aside from research and teaching, I have strongly committed in increasing diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. I was highly involved in the MIT Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) Diversity Initiatives, serving as an MIT summer research program assistant as well as a GradCatalyst Fellow ( I have also served as a co-director of MIT Women’s Initiative program.

My other passion is to advance the quality of scientific research and higher education in Indonesia. To start, I was the president of Association of Indonesian Students at MIT and helped coordinate the scholar division of Indonesian Students Association in the United States (Massachusetts chapter), aiming to foster connections amongst the community of Indonesian scholars in the Greater Boston Area. I am also leading a team of Indonesian students who are voluntarily translating the Lodish’ Molecular Cell Biology textbook into Bahasa Indonesia such that it can be distributed cheaply and more broadly in Indonesia. Outside of work, I enjoys traveling, cooking, and learning new languages.

When I was searching for my scholarships, I went through the list of scholarships available at each stage of my studies carefully and apply to each of them that fit my criteria. Several might require nomination from faculty members who you were taught by or trained with. For example, for the Thomas Hynes General Chemistry Scholarship, it was based on my performance in the Chemistry courses I took and hence, the professor nominated me for the award. The steps and processing times of the fellowships/scholarships vary greatly. Many requirements might have changed since I applied to these scholarships/fellowships but most of them will have a website that describe the process and deadline in great details.

I really appreciate all of these international scholarships/fellowships, that indiscriminately believe in me regardless of my background, since I would not be able to afford my studies and be where I am today. It was indeed a humbling experience. Furthermore, through these scholarships/fellowships, I have an opportunity to be part of a community of incredibly inspiring scholars and individuals, many of whom are my close collaborators and friends.

For those of you who would like to know more about my scholarships, please contact me either on Instagram: novaliapishesha, Facebook: Novalia Pishesha Tjandrasaputra, or email: Thank you.


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