ASU psychology student named 2020 Tillman Scholar

August 20, 2020

The third year of graduate school in a doctoral program usually includes some coursework and a lot of data collection. For HyeJung Park it included all that — and a deployment with the Army.

Park is now a fourth-year psychology graduate student at Arizona State University, where she studies how community and culture contribute to adolescent development.  ASU psychology graduate student HyeJung Park was named a 2020 Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation. Photo by Adrian Ponciano. Download Full Image

The Pat Tillman Foundation named her as one of their 2020 Tillman Scholars. The scholars possess the qualities of service, scholarship, humble leadership and impact. The fellowship funds academic expenses and provides leadership development and networking opportunities. 

“The Tillman Scholars make up an incredible group of current and former leaders within the military and their community who are passionate about taking skills from military service and applying them to finding solutions to problems. I am excited to grow and learn among them,” Park said. 

Paying it forward

Park’s path to becoming a developmental psychology graduate student at ASU began in community college in California, which was possible for her because state law allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors to pay in-state tuition. When California passed laws allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for college scholarships and financial aid, Park transferred to the University of California, Irvine with a Regents Scholarship

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program let Park apply to graduate school and enlist in the military through the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program, which let her earn American citizenship.

“Today I am a developmental psychology graduate student and a member of the Army reserves through the support of my community,” Park said. “I am a beneficiary of California Assembly Bill 540, the California Dream Act, and DACA. My life is an example of the impact of legislative changes brought by the efforts of community activists and American voters.”  

Park views her military service and doctoral studies in developmental psychology as a way to give back to her country and community.

“Because of how the California Dream Act, DACA and MAVNI altered my life, I want to promote equitable opportunities for the development of the next generation of young people,” she said. “I am committed to examining the present challenges confronting youth development and to creating empirically supported programs, policies and practices that reduce inequality.”

Balancing data collection and deployment

Park joined her fellow ASU psychology graduate students a semester late because she was at basic combat training, but she still completed her master’s thesis on time — right before her deployment began.

While deployed, she taught an in-person introductory psychology course to other active duty military members and continued working on her research in the Adolescent Stress and Emotion Lab with Leah Doane, associate professor of psychology.

“HyeJung is one of the most committed and compassionate students I have ever had, and when she gets excited by a research idea, she runs with it,” Doane said. “She is becoming an expert in how neighborhoods impact development — she is working towards a geographic information systems certificate from ASU — and is currently linking big data about neighborhoods to the ongoing projects in my lab.”

Every other week, Park met virtually with Doane to talk about research happening in the lab. Park also supervised a team of undergraduate research assistants while collecting and coding neighborhood data for the ongoing Transciones Study

Park is currently in the process of publishing a study about factors that increase college graduation rates among Latino teenagers. To date, she has identified that the intersection of cultural values and high school environment is an important influence on college success.

“HyeJung is an amazing student and collaborator who has been working with me on my grant from the Army Research Institute on cultural identities. She is a leader and gets things done,” said Adam Cohen, professor of psychology. “I truly admire how she balances her top-notch performance as a graduate student with the extremely demanding responsibilities of her military service.”

After ASU, Park wants to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship through the Society for Research in Child Development. The program immerses early career developmental scientists in state executive branch agency offices that focus on youth programs and policies.

“I want to be an effective liaison between the developmental research community and Congress to inform public policy development, implementation and evaluation with the intentions to promote positive and resilient development of at-risk and marginalized youth,” Park said.

Science writer, Psychology Department


ASU joins global research cohort to launch new center focused on society’s relationship with oceans

August 20, 2020

Arizona State University, through its partnership with Conservation International, joins the University of Washington and the Nippon Foundation to announce the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center. The Ocean Nexus Center is an interdisciplinary research initiative that focuses on social equity, ocean sustainability and climate change. The Ocean Nexus Center will bring uncompromised, critical voices to policy and public conversations that will help enable research and policy engagement. The new center is supported by the Nippon Foundation’s investment of $32.5 million over 10 years.

“The sustenance of humanity depends on our mother ocean,” said Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation. “And so today, I am happy to announce this new partnership to embark on a long-term commitment to ensure our ocean’s health, 10,000 years into the future. I am excited that the next generation of thought leaders will be emerging from this center to share their research findings to guide the world toward ocean sustainability.” ASU, through its partnership with Conservation International, is launching a new, interdisciplinary research initiative that focuses on social equity, ocean sustainability and climate change. Photo by Shutterstock Download Full Image

Based on the philosophy of passing on sustainable oceans to future generations, the Nippon Foundation of Tokyo has been working for over three decades with governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and research institutions to foster 1,430 ocean professionals from 150 countries. The Ocean Nexus Center will be housed in University of Washington’s EarthLab, an institute established in 2015 to connect with community partners to discover equitable solutions to complex environmental challenges.

ASU and Conservation International join more than 20 other institutions around the world that will provide research and expertise to support Ocean Nexus Center’s four areas of focus: human rights and human security, ocean economy, food safety and sovereignty, and regional fisheries policy.

“Ocean Nexus exists to bridge the gap between decision-makers, policymakers and the communities most affected and dependent on the oceans,” said Yoshitaka Ota, the center’s director. “This is a chance to do something bold and really push the boundaries of understanding our relationship with oceans, and that’s what I’m excited to do.”

The center aims to build the next generation of ocean thought leadership by offering opportunities, networks and training for early-career interdisciplinary scholars. ASU will host Alejandro García-Lozano, a postdoctoral fellow in sustainable oceans, as part of the Ocean Nexus Center. García-Lozano comes to ASU from Duke University Marine Laboratory where he earned a PhD in Marine Science and Conservation. His doctoral research focused on the role of multilevel cooperative institutions in the governance of small-scale fisheries in Mexico. His background is in critical policy studies, institutional analysis, and theories of collective action and natural resource governance.

This initiative will be led by Jack Kittinger, research professor in the ASU School of Sustainability and Global Futures Laboratory and senior director of Conservation International’s Global Fisheries and Aquaculture Program.

“ASU and Conservation International are focusing on human rights in the seafood sector by developing a global analysis with key partners that will help governments and the private sector reduce abuse and ensure adequate social safeguards in fisheries," Kittinger said. "Dr. Lozano’s experience working on social sustainability issues is a perfect match for this initiative. As a Nexus Fellow, he will work closely with a range of partners to lead this important work to drive innovative science and policy solutions to improve livelihoods for the people who rely on fisheries.”  

For more information on the ASU-Conservation International partnership based in the Global Futures Laboratory, visit

Sandra Leander

Assistant Director of Media Relations, ASU Knowledge Enterprise