Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University
Aishani Aatresh

Aishani Aatresh

aishaniaatresh (at)

Aishani Aatresh is an undergraduate at Harvard College and a Fellow in the Program on Science, Technology and Society. She is pursuing a degree of her own design, coined Complex Biosocial Systems, which explores how uncertainty is framed and addressed through changing biological and sociopolitical landscapes.

Her interests revolve around emerging “global” problems of science and technology and how the rights and responsibilities of citizens and institutions are negotiated alongside the very manifestations of these problems, their global-ness, and various proposed solutions to them.

Aishani’s research sits within the STS Program and Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, broadly focusing on questions of public health in terms of infectious disease preparedness and response. Her senior thesis traces the evolution of three endeavors in trying to achieve pandemic preparedness on a global scale: World Health Organization-led negotiations for a Pandemic Accord; zoonotic surveillance to discover novel viruses in animals before they “spill over” to humans; and vaccine development to address market failures through the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and regionalized manufacturing. It argues that each initiative identifies distinctive forms of uncertainty in the global circulation of information (viral genetic sequences) or products (vaccines) and foregrounds a different register in which states have traditionally exercised and delegated power: international politics, via treaty-making; public health, through research programs; and the economy, with market incentives. In each case, the thesis shows how policy designers developed a universalizing way of seeing pandemic threats and vulnerable people while overlooking elements of context and culture.

Within the STS Program, Aishani has co-founded and chairs its Undergraduate Fellowship; it is designed to bring together students at the College from across departments and fields to learn about the discipline of STS and think critically about science and technology. She was also the Editor-in-Chief of the Future Humans Anthology, one element of the Program’s 20th Anniversary Symposium in November 2022. The volume features creative pieces submitted from across the university that explore the making of — and hopes and fears for — human futures.

Previously, Aishani has developed computational methods for antibody engineering and assisted with government affairs, market diligence, and clinical trial design for South San Francisco biotech start-ups Distributed Bio and Centivax. She has also worked with the Special Pathogens Program within NYC Health+Hospitals, the United States’ largest municipal healthcare delivery system, and written extensively for synthetic biology organization SynBioBeta.

Aishani was a 2023 Yun Family Research Fellow for Revolutionary Thinking and a Harvard Global Health Institute independent summer fellow. She has previously been awarded by Harvard’s Herchel Smith Undergraduate Science Research Program and Institute of Politics.