Rahul Thapa ‘21 CLAS Named a 2023 Knight-Hennessy Scholar

Rahul Thapa ‘21 CLAS Named a 2023 Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University

VILLANOVA, Pa. (May 9, 2023)—Rahul Thapa ’21 CLAS is among 85 students from around the world to be selected as a prestigious Knight-Hennessy Scholar to further his education at Stanford University. Beginning in fall 2023, Thapa will receive full funding to pursue his PhD in Biomedical Informatics at Stanford School of Medicine, and he will join a community cohort of multidisciplinary and multicultural scholars who, in addition to their studies, will receive purposeful leadership development training and experiential learning aimed at empowering them to effect large-scale positive impact on the world.

“The selection of Rahul Thapa as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar highlights the remarkable achievements of our alumni and their dedication to igniting positive change in the world,” said Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD, Villanova University Provost. “There is no doubt that Rahul—who is devoted to making healthcare more effective and equitable—will use this life-changing opportunity to advance the greater good.”

Thapa, originally from Nepal, graduated summa cum laude from Villanova in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He currently works as a clinical data scientist at Stanford’s School of Medicine, where he develops experiments and applications with the goal of deploying Machine Learning (ML) models into clinical practice. He previously worked at both Forta Health and Dascena, creating ML algorithms for screening neurodevelopmental disorders and predicting sepsis.

As an undergraduate student at Villanova, Thapa began his research career in the Match Research Program for First Year Students. He served as a peer reviewer for Veritas: Villanova Research Journal, and in 2019, he was selected as a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) grantee at the University of California-Irvine. He conducted research with Villanova’s Dependable, Efficient, and Intelligent Computing Lab (DETAIL), and he was also an interfaith leader with Campus Ministry, a CASA peer tutor, and a resident assistant. He was founder of Villanova’s Google Developer Student Club and co-founder of Feastimate, a Villanova student startup focused on minimizing food waste on campus. He also received the Villanova ICE Incubator Award, and he has since generated several publications and presentations, two patents and FDA submissions. As a Stanford doctoral student and aspiring professor, Thapa hopes to develop ML methods for the advancement of equitable healthcare.

Thapa is Villanova’s third Knight-Hennessy Scholar, joining Bridget Gile ’19 COE and Andrew Lee ’19 COE who both won the scholarship in 2019. Established in 2016, the program develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. Every year, up to 100 high-achieving students from around the world receive full funding to pursue any graduate degree at Stanford. In addition to pursuing graduate studies, Knight-Hennessy Scholars participate in experiential learning through the King Global Leadership Program, which provides a collection of community experiences, workshops, meetings with leaders, global study trips and personal development opportunities.

The program’s academic founder is John Hennessy ’73 COE, a Villanova alumnus who is chairman of Alphabet Inc. and was president of Stanford from 2000 to 2016. His co-founder is Phil Knight, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of Nike Inc. For more information, visit the Knight-Hennessy Scholars website.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.