Dr. Harshini Mukundan – IF/THEN Ambassador

Personal Statement

Hi, my name is Harshini Mukundan. I grew up in India. When I was ten years old, I overheard a conversation at a wedding that has always stuck with me. An elderly relative was lamenting about not being able to find a suitable groom for her daughter. The woman felt she was to blame becauce she had allowed her daughter to study too much. How would she ever find a man who was more educated than her daughter?

This disturbed me, and I discussed it with my grandfather. He said a man did not have to be more educated than his wife to be a good husband, and any man who didn’t agree would never make a good husband in the first place. My grandfather then took out a piece of paper and wrote my name on it, followed by various accreditations and degrees. He made me promise that some-day I would have a business card that looked like this- that some-day I would have my own identity.

I made that my mission. Today, I have (a PhD in Biomedical Sciences AND my own identity. And by the way, I also found a good husband.


Can you imagine a scenario where one single test could diagnose any infection? There are currently no universal methods for the diagnosis of all infection! Currently, diagnosis of infection depends on symptoms, knowledge of what is “going around,” and available resources. Biologist Harshini Mukundan hopes to solve this problem by developing universal diagnostics to identify all infections, within minutes, in your doctor’s office. In her current role as team leader at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Harshini is developing diagnostics that can be used in resource-poor regions of the world.

Harshini Mukundan holds a Master’s Degree in Microbiology, and a Ph. D in Biomedical Sciences. She has worked on developing diagnostics for various diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer. She is a passionate research mentor to interns in various stages of their career, and an active STEM advocate.

Harshini enjoys several hobbies including reading, dancing and hiking. She and her husband live in beautiful Los Alamos, New Mexico with their two wonderful children and their pet tortoise.

Learn More About Dr. Harshini Mukundan here:


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The South Dakota Afterschool Network works to better our state and its communities by connecting providers, parents and policymakers with proven tools and resources to increase the quality of and access to out-of-school time programming for K-12 children and youth.

Afterschool is a lifeline that keeps youth safe, helps kids learn and grow, and provides parents the ability to work without worry. While South Dakota is home to more than 300 afterschool programs, the demand for programs exceeds available spaces. In fact, 1 in 3 South Dakota children (34 percent) who are not in an afterschool program would be enrolled if it were available. That’s more than 42,000 children who are missing out on opportunities to participate in programming that supports their development academically, socially and economically.

Afterschool can provide valuable opportunities for students to explore STEM, and we are here to help your program succeed in STEM Learning! From webinars and trainings to our signature TMC Trailers that bring turnkey STEM activities to your doorstep, our diverse collection of resources meets you and your students where you are and provides the support you need to deliver quality programming to your students at any age. 

The South Dakota Afterschool Network wanted to create a mapping tool to better understand the landscape of afterschool and summer programs available for children and families. From the initial launch of the new mapping tool, we have identified some startling findings.