4 ASU students awarded Killam Fellowship for study at Canadian universities

October 8, 2020

Four outstanding students in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University are recipients of the Killam Fellowship for undergraduate study in Canada next spring.

The Killam Fellowships Program provides an opportunity for exceptional undergraduate students from universities in Canada and the United States to spend either one semester or a full academic year as an exchange student in the other country. The program is administered by the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States, also known as Fulbright Canada, a binational, nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization. Download Full Image

The program offers a cash award of $5,000 U.S. per semester, along with an allowance to offset the cost of health insurance.

The program hosts all new Killam Fellows at an orientation in Ottawa each fall and again at a seminar in Washington, D.C., each spring. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, travel will depend on government restrictions and the policies and practices of host universities.

“It is remarkable to have so many of our applicants selected for this award. It’s a testament to Barrett’s commitment to international exchange and service,” said Kyle Mox, Barrett associate dean for national scholarships and director of the Office of National Scholarships Advisement.

It’s also a testament to the attention the students gave to completing their applications, which included having their proposed program of study, personal statement, record of academic achievement and letters of reference judged by a committee charged with nominating students for the fellowship. 

“This is a difficult application, and I couldn’t be prouder of the amount of hard work and effort that these students put into the process,” Mox said, adding that the Killam Fellowship is a first step for many students who apply for other prestigious awards like the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright or NSF Graduate Research Fellowship programs.

Here are the 2020–21 Killam Fellows from ASU:

Julie Kaplan

Julie Kaplan is majoring in finance and global politics with a certificate in cross-sector leadership.

“I am honored to join the Fulbright community of leaders and researchers. I’m looking forward to actively participating in the distinguished Fulbright alumni network in the United States, Canada and around the word,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan is planning to research microfinance and economic empowerment at the University of Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes.

She developed an interest in microfinance through her work with Arizona Microcredit Initiative, a nonprofit that assists struggling small-business owners through education, microloans and consulting. Kaplan served as director of AMI from 2017 to 2019, leading a team of 17 that organized 35 hourlong business development workshops teaching lean business, business model canvassing and the value of proposition design.

“It’s been incredible over the past three years helping small-business owners grow and achieve their missions,” Kaplan said.   

“I am looking forward to studying international business at UPEI. I will study and conduct research on how small businesses are run both in Canada and around the world. This will give me a more robust understanding of the global business landscape,” Kaplan said.

“In the future, I would love to work within global microfinance to help lift motivated entrepreneurs out of poverty and afford them opportunities to create businesses and jobs,” she added.

Cate Morenzoni

Catherine Morenzoni is double majoring in sociology and justice studies with a certificate in energy and sustainability.

“I’m still in shock about being chosen for the Killam Fellowship. When I first considered applying for the program, it seemed like such a long shot to be selected. It is really an honor to be chosen and I could not be more excited to begin the fellowship,” she said.

Morenzoni will study at the University of Calgary. She will focus on the oil and gas industry in the province of Alberta, and Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

“I am completing my honors thesis on energy system development on Indigenous lands in the United States and Canada, so I’m excited to use my time at University of Calgary getting a new, up-close perspective on these topics,” she said.

Anusha Natajaran

Anusha Natarajan is majoring in sociology and history with minors in Spanish and certificates in human rights and internal studies.

“I feel so excited and honored. I am grateful to receive this opportunity to be immersed and learn more about Canadian culture and history,” Natarajan said.

Natarajan will study sociology, history, foreign policy and human rights law at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“Human rights has become a recent passion of mine. I did a lot of government and international relations work throughout high school, and I realized how vital human rights are and how more work needs to be done,” she said.

“Figuring out solutions on how to tackle human rights abuses around the world has motivated me to do further research and volunteer work in this field,” she added.

Elizabeth Whiteman

Elizabeth Whiteman is majoring in sustainability with a minor in business and a certificate in socially engaged practices in art and design.

“I am more than thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of this program. I have a feeling it is going to be the biggest adventure of my life thus far,” Whiteman said.

Whiteman will study socially engaged art for environmental activism and urban sustainability at York University in Toronto.

“My focus is on how socially engaged art can be used to break down the social and cultural boundaries that are currently prohibiting meaningful conversation about solutions to global climate change,” she said.

“I always knew I wanted to study socially engaged art. From a young age, the power of art to move people, to bring people together, and to create real change in communities really shaped my worldview. As I became more aware of the urgency of the climate crisis, I began to develop a passion for sustainability. And as I learned more about all the ways environmental issues are linked to social issues of economic disparity and systemic racism, I knew I had found the subject that would be my life's work,” she added.

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College


ASU master's degree and doctorate grads encouraged to apply for Presidential Management Fellows Program

October 8, 2020

Are you an Arizona State University student who has recently completed a master’s or doctoral degree? Are you interested in working in a United States federal agency?

The Presidential Management Fellows Program may be for you. Brian Johnson Brian Johnson, who received a PhD in biological design from ASU in 2018, is a Presidential Management Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. Download Full Image

Joshua Brooks, from the Arizona State University Office of Distinguished Graduate Fellowships in the Graduate College and the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at Barrett, The Honors College, is seeking applicants for the program.

“This is a great opportunity to fast-track into employment positions in federal agencies. It is a very elite program,” Brooks said.

“The federal government provides a very attractive, secure option” for employment, he added.

The Presidential Management Fellows Program is a fellowship that pipelines newly graduated U.S. master's and doctoral degree students into executive positions in federal agencies.

It is a well-compensated, two-year training and leadership program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Agencies seek to convert participants in the program to permanent federal civilian executive employees. Positions are available in federal agency offices across the U.S.

ASU alumni who have completed the PMF program work at the NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Agency for International Development, and multiple other agencies, Brooks said.

The deadline to apply for the program is Oct. 14.

Brooks said the application, which includes an assessment and requires a resume, education transcripts, and other pertinent information, can be completed online in about four hours.

“The most important thing applicants can do is follow the bureaucratic elements of the application explicitly. You must follow application instructions to a T,” Brooks said.

Information about the application is at Presidential Management Fellows at ASU - Guidance & Resources, Fall 2020.  Applicants must be logged in to their ASU-branded Google accounts to be able to access the information.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reviews applications and, within a month to six weeks of the application date, informs finalists who will be considered for the program.

Brooks said his office is offering advising and mentoring to those from ASU who are chosen as program finalists.

ASU alums – including several from Barrett Honors College — who completed the PMF program and who are now working in federal agencies will serve as mentors to the finalists, helping them “get attached to the agency they are interested in,” Brooks said.

Those selected to participate in the PMF program receive:

  • The full salary and benefits that come with executive employment in a federal agency.
  • A two-year appointment that will provide a fast-paced opportunity to gain experience and develop talents. In addition to working at a single federal agency, participants may have the option of rotating through another agency.
  • 160 hours of formal training in leadership, management, policy and other topics.
  • Challenging work assignments and in-depth feedback.
  • At least one four- to six-month development assignment.
  • Upon completion of the program, immediate noncompetitive conversion to a permanent or term position.

In order to be eligible for the program applicants must:

  • Generally be U.S. citizens, except under certain very rare circumstances.
  • Have completed advanced degree requirements by Aug. 31 of the year following the annual application. An advanced degree is any master’s, doctorate or professional doctorate. Those who have completed an advanced degree during the previous two years from the opening date of the PMF Program’s annual application announcement are eligible to apply. 

For more information about the program, contact Brooks at joshua.d.brooks@asu.edu.

Brian Johnson: A look at the PMF program from the inside

Brian Johnson graduated ASU with a Bachelor of Science in molecular bioscience and biotechnology with a minor in philosophy and honors from Barrett, The Honors College. He earned a PhD in biological design from ASU in 2018.

He is currently participating in the Presidential Management Fellow Program at the National Institutes of Health.

Johnson took out time to explain how he is progressing and give an insider’s look at the program. Here is what he had to say.

Question: How did you become interested in the PMF program?

Answer: As I was nearing graduation I was exploring opportunities outside of the traditional academic career track, including the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship program. The AAAS website listed similar programs that applicants might be interested in, including the PMF program. I was especially drawn to the PMF program because of the opportunities for leadership training. I co-founded a not-for-profit corporation several years ago, and my experiences there had made me interested in further developing these skills beyond the “winging it” I had been doing up to that point!

Q: Which agency do you work with? What do you do there?

A: I am at the National Institutes of Health, specifically the National Cancer Institute. Rather than being assigned to a single office, I am instead completing four four- to six-month rotations at NCI offices and one external rotation as mandated by the PMF program. I have completed two rotations so far and am currently in my third.

The first rotation was at the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials, where I worked as an analyst to help develop tools to facilitate analyzing the portfolio of clinical trials that NCI supports.

My second rotation was the external one mandated by the PMF program. This was at the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Research Integrity. This office is responsible for overseeing investigations of allegations of research misconduct in HHS-supported grants. During this assignment my main project was developing guidance to support institutions in carrying out their investigations.

Finally, I am currently at the NCI Office of Budget and Finance, where I have participated in the work to ensure that final NCI budget for the fiscal year matches what was mandated by Congress in the federal budget.

I should note that while the PMF program mandates the external rotation, not all agencies allow fellows to rotate in multiple internal offices as mine has; it is generally more common for a fellow to spend the majority of their time in one office for the duration of the program (outside of their external experience).

Q: What has your experience in the program been like so far?

A: It has been fabulous! This program has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in new areas while at the same time contributing my own knowledge and expertise to the offices I have worked in.

The PMF program officials and the PMF coordinators at NIH and NCI clearly care deeply about the program, and have put a lot of effort into making these two years as impactful as possible for both the fellows and the offices that hire them. My fellow PMFs are a wonderful group of people, and it has been a privilege getting to know them.

Q: What position might you take after completing the PMF program?

A: I will likely pursue a role as an analyst of some kind as I have been enjoying this kind of work.

Q: Would you recommend the program? Why?

A: Absolutely, without reservation. When I found out that I had been selected by the NCI, I was a bit nervous at first as this experience would be very different from anything I had done up to that point and I was worried about my own ability to adapt to such a huge shift. However, everyone that I have worked with has been incredibly supportive, and I have found myself loving the work.

When I complete the program I have every intention to remain as a permanent federal employee, and the PMF program has opened so many doors to make this possible.

Q: What advice do you have for students who may be interested in applying to the PMF?

A: Really spend some time thinking about what you specifically want to get out of the program, and what you in turn can contribute to it.

Remember that the ultimate goal of the PMF program is to build the next generation of leaders in government. Any leadership experiences you can demonstrate, such as at volunteer organizations or student government, can be a big help.

Although your technical knowledge is important and valued, I’ve spent more time discussing my experiences outside of the lab than my dissertation research.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: The PMF program has existed since the '70s. This means that you are likely to encounter many people who either are or who have worked with PMFs – especially in agencies that tend to bring in many fellows, such as NIH. This means that the program is fairly well known and can be a great tool for networking.

One of the best aspects of being at PMF at NIH is that I have had a lot of opportunities to connect with people across the institutes. Simply emailing someone saying, “I’m a PMF and am new to government and want to learn more about what you do,” has allowed me meet some incredible people, observe the hiring process for a senior executive position, and even tour a manufacturing facility while it was down for annual maintenance.

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College