Ph.D. Candidate Recognized With Diversity Fellowship from APSA

A fascination with human behavior and a deep-rooted curiosity are the foundation of Devyn Escalanti’s academic career.

The Security Studies Ph.D. student traces her fascination with political science specifically to a childhood watching political news and satire shows. That blossomed into a public health-security track of study through books like David Quamman’s “Spillover: Animal infections and the Next Human Pandemic” and Kim Yi Dionne’s “Doomed interventions: the Failure of Global Responses to AIDS in Africa,” along with classes on topics like war and human aggression.

“I’m trying to understand the mechanisms of how the world works,” Escalanti said.

Escalanti’s hard work recently paid off in the form of a diversity fellowship from the American Political Science Association. The fellowship — first launched in 1969 to increase the number of underrepresented groups in political science — includes a $2,000 award.

Escalanti shares the number of women of color like herself she’s encountered in her academic career is very slim. She’s excited to add to their number through relevant, groundbreaking research.

“I’m absolutely grateful for it,” she said.

Her dissertation focuses on the intersection of public health and security in developing African countries. Some of the questions she will highlight include how human disease impacts social and political outcomes and accompanying violence. She plans to quantify intangible data like attitudes and behavior using advanced GIS data, mapping, and survey techniques.

Potential career tracks in her future include a post at the Centers for Disease Control or the Defense Intelligence Agency researching human behavior in response to emerging and re-occurring infectious disease outbreaks.

“There seems to be a historical amnesia where societies emerge from a pandemic and think that it won’t happen again or that the case in question is somehow an anomaly. But it’s important to take the threat of emerging and novel pathogens seriously as they have the power and capacity to affect human behavior and sociopolitical outcomes,” she said.






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