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Top graduate came from Nepal to Daly City

BY AARON KINNEY (NY Daily News): Four years after traveling halfway around the world to study in a foreign land, Apurwa Sharma will sit on the stage Saturday at San Francisco State’s graduation as the top student in the College of Science and Engineering.

The 23-year-old native of Nepal has not only excelled at his own research into protein dynamics, but also trained and supervised both peers and graduate students in the lab, according to the university. He will pursue a Ph.D. in the fall at Washington University in St. Louis.

“He’s very bright and he’s very persistent,” said professor Raymond Esquerra, the young man’s research mentor. “He’s able to tackle complicated problems and come up with innovative solutions.”

Apurwa has been aided in his studies — and in living abroad — by his older sister, Abriti, who like her brother will receive a biochemistry degree Saturday. They have shared a small apartment in Daly City since arriving in 2008.

Abriti, 24, also excelled in her studies. And she’s not at all bothered that Apurwa has been recognized as their college’s outstanding student. The siblings have been school collaborators, not rivals, routinely helping each other with their coursework.

“There was no competition between me and him,” Abriti said with a laugh. “He’s too nice to do that.”

The Sharmas grew up amid humble circumstances. Though their father was a government official, they typically had just enough money to get by. Their parents saved for years

to afford their children’s college tuition.

Both now plan to stay in the United States. They’re fond of San Francisco, whose diversity gave them a sense of belonging. Abriti is looking for a job in the lab of a biotech company, while Apurwa will continue his studies. After receiving his doctorate, he hopes to return to the Bay Area.

“All the mentoring and teaching I got here helped me in such a huge way that my goal is to find a place where I can do research and teach as well,” said Apurwa, who has focused on the role of water in proteins like myoglobin. Further insight into the workings of these compounds could aid in the development of anti-inflammatory and other medications.

Published Date: Saturday, May 19th, 2012 | 01:56 AM

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