April 2, 2024

Hailing from Nepal, Prajjwal Dhungana is a passionate and invested economist. A recent graduate of Kathmandu University, he is now studying how climate change and environmental impact affect migrational patterns.  He is one of three 2024 Aspire Institute STEAM fellows.

We recently spoke with Dhungana about his aspirations, excitements, and past experiences. He told us about his work and what sparked his research. “..while talking about migration, we think that people migrate for different reasons. So there is a famous push pull theory.” He told us.  “Basically from developing countries like ours (Nepal), people migrate to urban areas or developed countries in pursuit of good employment and education opportunities. [With] the climate crisis that’s looming, people have been forced to migrate, due to the ramifications of climate change.” He spoke to us about refugee patterns and trends, and how they too are affected by climate change. When asked how he will measure these patterns and extrapolate data, he explained. “[I am] using standard economic theories and econometric models. I try to estimate the net impact of higher temperatures on climate change across Nepal.” 

When asked why he applied for the STEAM fellowship, Dhungana told us about his experience moving through the Aspire Leaders Program. He described his excitement around tackling each module and the inspiration he felt from both the global experts and peers to whom he was exposed. “So, having that experience in the Aspire Leaders Program, I was really looking forward [to] the extended leadership opportunities.” he said. “When I saw that post [about the] STEAM Fellowship I thought, yeah, this is the one [for] which I should apply. I think the combination of mentorship from the experts in fields alongside [mine], [and] the match of the research aspect, is what is what attracted me to it.” 

Dhugana plans to apply to PhD programs after the fellowship. He hopes to have a published paper by the time the STEAM fellows are complete. “So, having completed an undergraduate thesis, I want to invest my time and energy in building this project into something that would be publishable in one of the good journals in economics.”

In describing his journey, Dhungana reflects on a constant: mentorship. In high school, he thought he would study medicine at first. However, he was exposed to social sciences through an inspirational teacher. “He was a well-rounded intellectual, and I thought, like he knew everything. One day, when I asked him, sir, I’m not that much interested to pursue science or pursue medicine,” he said. “Then he suggested to me, you can explore economics. Then I started researching about the subject and I was fond of knowing more about economics. Later on, I joined undergraduate in economics at Kathmandu University.”

We are so impressed with Prajjwal Dhungana, and all of the effort he has put toward his STEAM Fellowship project! Since graduating from the Aspire Leaders Program, he has received many accolades. This includes presenting a paper at the International Atlantic Economic Conference in Philadelphia, PA in October of 2023. We can’t wait to see where his work will take him. 


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