When the chancellor calls, you come. Especially when the chancellor is Germany’s Angela Merkel and you are one of only 150 scientists from around the world invited to share your expertise.

But when Sofia Ahsanuddin ’16 first got the invite to speak at the Third International German Forum on Health and Innovation, which took place last week in Berlin, she thought it was a hoax. She even reached out to one of her former Brooklyn College professors to ask his thoughts.

“The invitation was quite unexpected,” Ahsanuddin says. “I was surrounded by people who were very ambitious and extraordinarily accomplished. I was the youngest person at the forum. All of the delegates were professionals who had years of experience in their respective fields.”

Ahsanuddin’s resume is itself impressive.

The former Rhodes Scholarship finalist is the executive director of a prodigious study at Weill Cornell Medicine on microbial life in New York City subways. She just wrapped up a flu surveillance project at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and College of Global Public Health. And she is on the steering committee for the upcoming international March for Science in Washington. She is a former Rosen Fellow and Goldsmith Scholar who has interned at the United Nations, and served as a delegate to the Clinton Global Initiative University.

And so there she found herself in Berlin discussing antimicrobial resistance with some of the world’s foremost scientific scholars and one of the most prominent politicians in the western world. “I asked to take a photo [with Merkel] to send to my mother and she kindly obliged,” Ahsanuddin says.

The conference was convened with scientists from 25 countries to discuss global health and quality of life with a goal of fostering international cooperation in combatting transnational outbreaks. Ahsanuddin caught the conference organizers’ attention because of a talk on the Cornell microbial life study she gave at TEDx CUNY in the fall of 2015.

The former Macaulay Honors College and Coordinate B.A.-M.D program student plans to pursue a doctor of medicine and/or master of public policy program after working for a couple of years. She wants to become a doctor, a medical anthropologist, and public health specialist and says she could envision working for an agency like the United Nation’s World Health Organization.