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Ramya Swaminathan has never taken the act of flipping on the light for granted. Growing up between India and the Philippines, her family lived in cities with fragile electric grids, and she often had to plan around energy outages.
“We were in urban areas that still experience electricity insecurity,” she said. “I remember being in high school and having six to eight hours of power cuts a day. We had to choose when we studied to make sure we had electricity, and that became an internalized decision every day. So the motivation for me to work on really tough problems with electricity is fundamentally connected to human wellbeing for societies everywhere.”