Dr. Prineha Narang: This Scientist Will Make Our Everyday Lives Easier

July 3 - Sarah Ashlock


During a recent re-watch of “Ugly Betty” (which I highly recommend, y’all), Betty attends an elaborate dinner party. Each party has a topic of discussion, and Betty figures out what the topic will be: torture. She studies up on the very, ahem, lively subject, and feels confident as the hostess announces it. But the hostess changes the topic last minute to…opera. Betty knows nothing about the subject, and guess what? We’ve all been there.

If you’re at a soiree and everyone’s got a job in something way above your pay grade, don’t freak. No one really wants to talk about their job, so go with a this-or-that question. Snapchat or Twitter? 80s or 90s music? Team Khaleesi or Team Arya?


Today, we’re talking about a complicated subject to many, myself included. So let’s break it down. Science: It’s the thing that influences us every single day, and yet, it’s this huge topic that can feel overwhelming. Like in any industry, it’s helpful to find your niche. The best experts are, indeed, experts because they focus on a sliver of the pie. From 2016 to 2026, it’s expected that employment for physicists and astronomers will grow 14 percent, which is faster than the national average. I think you just found your forte.

So what do, say, physicists do aside from the whole discovering thing? One aspect of the job is fundraising because research ain’t free. There’s also plenty of math, along with writing know-how, because chances are you want to share your findings with the world.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Dr. Prineha Narang, Assistant Professor of Computational Materials Science at Harvard University

Dr. Prineha Narang is changing the way those things that we use everyday—mobile phones—and satellites communicate. Forbes called Prineha one of its “30 Under 30” scientists in 2018, and it’s clear why: She’s the role model every little girl and, heck, big girl needs.

Using quantum-engineered materials, Prineha works on creating energy-efficient devices that can be used in space systems and consumer electronics. As an assistant professor at Harvard University, she’s part of a research cohort called the Excited-state and Integrated Quantum Materials group.

Prineha began her scientific career at Cal-Tech, eventually landing in Massachussetts at MIT. There, she worked as a scholar in condensed matter theory before accepting a prestigious fellowship at Harvard University Center for the Environment. Now, as a faculty member in Harvard’s materials science department, Prineha works and breathes her research.

When MIT calls you a “Rising Star,” you must know that you’re something special. One of the ways Prineha has risen to the star that she is? She’s not afraid to go small—very small. MIT praised her for researching materials at such a small scale, but in a way that can have a lasting impact on technologies. (After all, everything starts with an atom, right?)

As Prineha and her research colleagues look at nanoscience in a different light, the results could be immense, from more lightweight phones with higher-quality cameras, to synthetic fuel. Scientists like Prineha will revolutionize our daily lives and influence discoveries that we can only imagine.


A guy with a seriously great name, Buckminster Fuller, was a 20th century inventor. He said:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

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