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Ramya Swaminathan did not take the act of flipping on the light for granted. Growing up between India and the Philippines, her family lived in cities with shaky electrical grids, and she often had to plan for blackouts.
“We were in urban areas that still had electrical insecurity,” she said. “I remember being in high school and having power out six to eight hours a day. We had to choose when we were studying to make sure we had electricity, and that became an internal decision every single day. So it was a drive for me to work on really tough problems with electricity being connected in a way essential to the human well-being of societies everywhere.”