Meet the 2021 Summer in the Field Fellows

The Boston University Global Development Policy Center is pleased to present the 2021 Summer in the Field Fellows. These four outstanding Boston University students are currently pursuing graduate degrees at different departments across the university, including the School of Public Health, the Pardee School of Global Studies and the Department of Political Science.

The GDP Center Summer in the Field Fellowship Program provides stipends to a select group of qualified graduate students to participate in unpaid internships or conduct field research for a dissertation project during the summer months. This program enables students to take advantage of unpaid internship opportunities or field research that would otherwise have been financially unfeasible.

Starting June 1, 2021, the Summer in the Field Fellows will spend 10 weeks developing their skills, research and professional experience by participating in variety of research projects and internships, spanning topics from African sovereign bond issuances and person-centered maternity care to global environmental governance and the role of South Korea in developing regional financing arrangements.

The 2021 Summer in the Field Fellows are:

Natalie Ellis is a rising second year Occupational Therapy doctoral candidate at Boston University and previously graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from California Polytechnic State University. 

For her Summer in the Field Fellowship, Natalie will spend the summer working with an international research team to code subnational government response policies to the COVID-19 crisis with the CoronaNet Research Project. The primary objective of the CoronaNet Research Project is to collect as much information as possible about the diverse actions governments are taking to contain the spread and effects of COVID-19. This includes not only gathering information about which governments are responding to the coronavirus, but who they are targeting the policies toward (e.g., other countries), how they are doing it (e.g. travel restrictions, banning exports of masks) and when they are doing it. Together with over 500 political, social and public health science scholars from all over the world, CoronaNet makes publicly available an initial release of a comprehensive hand coded dataset of more than 60,000 separate policy announcements from governments around the world visible since December 31st 2019. As a Research Assistant Intern, Natalie will be assisting with researching what government policies her assigned country has implemented starting from the beginning of the epidemic, keeping up to date with new government policy actions on a daily basis and writing country reports.

Prior to being a full time graduate student, Natalie worked full time at a skilled nursing facility in Boston and is committed to supporting public health initiatives for COVID-19 recovery.

Pamela Icyeza graduated with a B.A in Economics and Political Science from Hobart and William Smith Colleges (Geneva, New York). She joined the PhD program in Political Science at Boston University in 2019. Her main research interests are at the intersection of political science and economics, specifically development finance in Sub Saharan Arica. Pamela’s current research explores how capital markets participation has affected the debt sustainability and development trajectory of Sub Saharan African states.

For her Summer in the Field Fellowship, Pamela will begin compiling a detailed dataset on African sovereign bond issuances, which will inform her dissertation research. With the exception of South Africa and the Seychelles, most Sub Saharan African countries didn’t issue sovereign bonds in international capital markets until 2007. As of the end of 2020, this has grown into a $115 billion dollar asset class with 21 countries now having one or more outstanding eurobonds. While the asset class has grown at considerable speed, data tracking this development is either scattered across data sets or fails to account for changes that have taken place in the past three years or for the variation in demand for these bonds. The dataset Pamela plans on assembling would correct for these errors.

Yaechan Lee received his B.A. in Economics from Waseda University, Japan in 2017. He also received a Master’s degree in International Relations from Peking University, China in 2019, and joined the Ph.D. program at the Boston University Department of Political Science in the fall of the same year. His research focuses on analyzing the different economic, financial, and security spillovers of regional integration among the ASEAN Member States (AMS). He is especially interested in how external players, namely South Korea, the Quad countries, and China interact with the AMS and among themselves, creating both tensions and opportunities for cooperation through the various ASEAN-based institutional platforms.

For his Summer in the Field Fellowship, Yaechan will conduct field work in South Korea, aiming to clarify the South Korea’s role in developing the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) and ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO). His fieldwork and research will support an Academy of Korean Studies grant awarded to Dr. William N. Kring and Dr. William W. Grimes, both of Boston University. Yaechan’s fieldwork will further advance this project and help form a basis for his dissertation project topic, which will be strongly related to this research endeavor.

Kate Mitchell Balla is a doctoral candidate in the DrPH program at Boston University School of Public Health, specializing in respectful maternity care. Kate is working on a dissertation with a large public hospital in the Dominican Republic. She is working to adapt a new methodology for measuring how people are treated as they give birth to better understand childbirth experiences in the DR during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kate’s project explores the relationship between how people experience childbirth and postpartum well-being outcomes. She hopes to identify stakeholder-generated solutions to inform policies to improve birth experiences locally in the DR and globally during the pandemic and beyond.

For her Summer in the Field Fellowship, Kate will be continuing her dissertation field work in the Dominican Republic, focusing on identifying barriers to person-centered maternity care (PCMC), as well as prioritizing policies to achieve PCMC during the COVID-19 pandemic and the post-emergency phase. PCMC is an emerging field of research, practice and policy that refers to maternity care that is respectful and responsive to childbearing people’s needs, preferences and values, but major knowledge gaps remain relating to how best to achieve PCMC. The Dominican Republic faces perplexingly high levels of maternal mortality and challenges with PCMC and COVID-19 has aggravated these existing challenges, making childbirth even more worrisome.

Previously, Kate worked for several years with the Maternal Health Task Force at Harvard School of Public Health where she managed the project’s portfolio on malaria in pregnancy and coordinated a global maternal health policy dialogue series. Kate has also worked as a consultant on numerous global projects relating to maternal-newborn health policy and practice. Kate was a recipient of the American India Foundation’s William J. Clinton Fellowship which funded her work with the corporate social responsibility division of Tata Steel to scale up maternal and newborn health services in rural Jharkhand, India.

Kate enjoys writing opinion pieces on public health topics and teaching public health folks the craft of op-ed writing. Her recent work has appeared on Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, and in the Boston Globe. Kate holds a BA in International Relations and Geography from Florida International University and an MPH in Global Health from Boston University.

Flavia Roscini holds a Double Degree with Honors in Management and Art History from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she made Corporate Social Responsibility the focus of her undergraduate management studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in International Affairs with a specialization in International Communication at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, graduating in 2022. She is passionate about environmental sustainability, finding the issue pressing and at the heart of managing the global commons.

For her Summer in the Field Fellowship, Flavia will be interning with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in New York, the leading organization in setting the global environmental agenda and promoting a coherent implementation of sustainable development. She will primarily provide communications assistance for key events like World Environment Day, the High Level Political Forum, and support UNEP events. She will also assist with side events and briefings related to the work of UNEP, including meetings organized by the Economic and Social Council, the UN Security Council and UN missions in New York.

The experience will be a unique opportunity for Flavia to witness how a global agency such as UNEP approaches climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, chemicals and waste, resource efficiency and sustainability. She will learn a wide variety of issues, ranging from the definition of policies to the coordination of environmental programs, best practices and initiatives shared across jurisdictions.