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Fresno State Neuroscience Student Receives CSU Trustees’ Award

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Fresno State undergraduate Ali Fakhrudin Dadawalla is a recipient of a 2023 CSU Trustees' Award. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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Fresno State News

At a young age, Ali Fakhrudin Dadawalla was inspired to study the complexities of the human brain after meeting a family friend who had a condition he wasn’t familiar with. Responding to an inquiry from the young Dadawalla about his condition, the man said, “Ali, have you ever heard of Parkinson’s disease? I’m dying and there aren’t any treatments for me right now.”

Dadawalla entered Fresno State as a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College, wanting to study neuroscience. Because a neuroscience major is not typically offered at the university, Dadawalla worked with faculty and staff within the College of Science and Mathematics to create a special major.

“I decided that I wanted to study the brain and the underlying conditions that lead to death and degradation of this small but complex organ,” Dadawalla said. “With the creation of this major, I [am] able to take courses across different departments within the College of Science and Mathematics as part of the core curriculum.”

On Monday, it was announced that Dadawalla was one of 23 students (one from each campus) selected by the California State University system to receive the 2023 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. Established in 1984, this is the CSU’s highest recognition for student achievement, recognizing superior academic performance, personal accomplishments and community service. Dadawalla is the 2023 Chancellor Emeritus Charles B. and Catherine Reed Scholar.

(This year’s class of awardees will receive more than $180,000 in scholarships collectively, thanks to the contributions from past and present CSU trustees and other donors.)

Dadawalla and the other CSU Trustees’ Award recipients will be honored at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach today.

“Receiving this honor is meaningful to me because not only do I get the opportunity to represent my university and hometown, but I also get the chance to represent future first-generation students who I hope to inspire to study the sciences,” he said.

Undergraduate Studies Include Working in Research Labs

Dadawalla has had the opportunity to actively apply what he learns while working in clinical neuropsychology and biological neuroscience research labs at Fresno State. His research primarily involves analyzing neuropsychiatric symptoms of patients with neurodegenerative diseases as well as exploring how to modify diagnostic criteria, ultimately helping clinicians to diagnose more accurately.

“While my research may not have a direct effect on the vast community of individuals suffering from these diseases, I know that my work can have the impact to aid future researchers in conducting potentially life-changing studies,” he said.

Now in his final year of undergraduate studies at Fresno State, Dadawalla is an accomplished honors student, having presented his research at conferences across California, most recently at the 51st annual International Neuropsychological Society Meeting in San Diego.

In addition to his studies, Dadawalla serves as a chemistry tutor at Fresno State’s Learning Center and a scribe at Community Regional Medical Center’s emergency department. He also volunteers with a number of organizations, including Boy Scouts of America and the Fresno State Physics Outreach team. In 2022, Dadawalla received the Paul DeRuosi Memorial Community Service Scholarship in recognition of his extensive volunteerism.

After graduating, Dadawalla plans to pursue a doctorate and become a physician-scientist in the Central Valley, researching neurodegenerative diseases and treating patients in underserved communities.

For more information on all CSU Trustee Award recipients, visit the CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement website.

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