2020 IAC Graduate Essay Awards

Students who had submitted abstracts for the IAC graduate conference submitted 10-15 page papers by January 1st, 2020 to be evaluated by Ivan Allen College faculty judges. The author of the top paper received $1500 in travel funds. Authors who were awarded second place for their papers each received $1000. Authors who were awarded third place for their papers each received $500.

Below are biographies and abstracts of prize winners in 2020.

First Prize

Rachel, SharonSharon Rachel (History and Sociology)

Sharon Rachel, MA, MPH is Interim Director of the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity in the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her BA in Women’s Studies and Sociology from the University of South Carolina, her MA in Women’s Studies from The Ohio State University, her MPH in Health Education from the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. With over a decade’s worth of work focusing on the social determinants of health, Ms. Rachel’s research considers health in the context of social norms and behaviors. She is interested in the function of sexism in society, specifically applying sociology and feminism to studying the effects of sexism on women’s health. She is trained in peer-to-peer counseling, has supported and advocated for sexual assault survivors, led women’s support groups, and coordinated resources at women’s community and crisis centers. Ms. Rachel has co-authored several publications, created a number of teaching aids and tools, and conducted health education and training sessions across the United States.

Ignoring Sexism Is Sexism! A Review of Recent Sociological Research on Women and Health

Abstract: An emerging body of research provides evidence suggesting that sexism affects women’s health.  Although women live longer than men, women also experience higher morbidity, and are more likely to be medically pathologized than men.  Yet, recent U.S.-based research in leading sociological journals has given little attention to issues related to women’s health, specifically the interplay between sexism and women’s health.  This study examines the frequency and content of published sociological research on women’s health from 2015-2019.  Twenty-two articles from five sociology journals were analyzed.  Health issues studied included mental health, sexual and reproductive health, violence against women, health outcomes, disability, menstruation, and transgender health.  Only eight of the twenty-two articles explicitly mentioned sexism, though sexism can be identified as a crosscutting theme in all of the articles.  This study contributes to the growing body of evidence that sexism is a determinant of women’s health.

Second Prize (tie)

Grindal, KarlKarl Grindal (Public Policy)

Karl Grindal is a policy analyst and information security researcher. He is a collaborator with the Internet Governance Project and a Sam Nunn Security Fellow. Karl previously served as the Director of Research for a start up where he developed in collaboration with the Eurasia Group, the Geocyber Risk Index (GCRI), a comparative assessment of the cyber threats of operating a network in different countries. Before this endeavor, he provided strategic, policy, and research services as a Senior Analyst at Delta Risk LLC. From 2014-2017, Karl was the Executive Director of the Cyber Conflict Studies Association (CCSA), a non-profit dedicated to advancing a research agenda on cyber conflict. Earlier with CCSA, Karl had collaborated with Jason Healey as the Associate Editor to the book A Fierce Domain: Conflict in Cyberspace 1986 to 2012. Karl completed a Master’s of Public Policy with a concentration in Science and Technology Policy from Georgetown University. He completed his undergraduate studies with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Government and a Certificate in International Relations from Wesleyan University.

FarhatKarimKarim Farhat (Public Policy)

Karim Farhat is a PhD student at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Public Policy. His research focuses on critical infrastructure and ICTs, emerging technology, and Internet governance. He is a part-time collaborator with the Internet Governance Project and former Sam Nunn Security Program fellow.

Signal and Noise: Deterrence and Persistent Engagement at Crosscurrents

Abstract:  Recent United States (US) strategy has shifted towards an offensive application of cyber power to counter adversarial cyber-attacks against the US. Cyber Command, in its 2018 Vision document, articulates two distinct, high-level cyber strategies: a traditional policy of deterrence, which is overlayed by a new policy of persistent engagement. Both strategies seek to alter adversarial state behavior but entail different levels of impact. Persistent engagement applies the notion of gradated offensive cyber-attacks tailored to provide a dynamic response. In contrast, deterrence is intended to solicit a change in behavior through the threat of a sudden and binary response. When combined, these two strategies may create a possibility for adversaries to misinterpret US action. This paper examines the interaction of these two strategies and their potential for escalation when deployed concurrently. To assess this question, the study employs a convergent research design leveraging a factorial survey and game-theoretic model. The survey instruments measure the risks of adversarial misinterpretation, while a signaling game models how misinterpretation affects escalation. This dual method approach allows to model behavior we expect to arise from recent shift in US cyber strategy. While recent consensus in the cyber security literature has solidified around the belief that the cyber domain may not be as escalatory as initially suspected, the essay presented will be used to defend against the potential escalatory risks posed by the strategy of persistent engagement.

Third Prize (tie)

Olufunke, AdebolaOlufunke adebola (International Affairs)

Funke is a doctoral student in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Her research focuses on market-based approaches for reducing postharvest losses in Africa. Prior to Georgia Tech, she earned Law degrees in Nigeria and France and worked with the various international organizations in Europe. governance.

Institutions: Drivers of post-harvest loss

Abstract: Previous research and intervention strategies for postharvest loss reduction have focused on technology solutions. However, the success of technology solutions has been inconclusive in Africa. I argue that, in reality, technology solutions by itself may not make a significant difference in mitigating the magnitude of losses experienced by the typical farmer in Africa. The results suggest that to improve our understanding and governance of postharvest losses, researchers must move from the macro-theoretical level to the micro-practical level and examine other unanswered, ignored, and unaccounted for social and policy issues that drive postharvest loss.

Pesner, JeremyJeremy Pesner (Public Policy)

Jeremy Pesner is a Public Policy PhD student with focuses on IT/Internet policy, innovation policy, and technology forecasting. He has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Dickinson College and an MA in Communication, Culture & Technology from Georgetown University. Before starting at Georgia Tech, he worked in a variety of startups and in policy analysis roles at the local, national and international levels. He has given talks and organized panels on his areas of expertise at a variety of venues, including Hackers on Planet Earth, TEDx Herndon, TEDx Fulbright and the Internet Society. He is a fellow of the Hive Global Leaders Program, the Israel Government Fellows, the Baltimore Corps Fellowship, the Internet Law & Policy Foundry and the NEXUS Global community. He would like to thank Professor Mark Zachary Taylor and his student colleagues for their guidance and feedback in developing this paper.

Exploring Links between Research Proposals and Societal Impact

Abstract: It is well-accepted that science research often leads to new technologies, and new technologies often lead to societal and economic improvement. However, the process by which general science research actually translates into societal benefit is not consistent or well-understood, and is often left more to the wills or decisions of the individuals involved rather than the potential societal benefit of the technology itself. This is because steering it in a top-down fashion has often proven to be very difficult, and many feel that such impact goals obfuscate basic research. This review pulls from an array of interrelated fields across science and society, including the history of science research and technology development, NSF’s broader impacts, technology transfer and more. In doing so, this review calls attention to the possibility that, despite the NSF’s emphasis of its broader impacts and research that accomplishes social goals, its current systems for science funding may not be sufficiently addressing societal needs. It is clear that in order to better understand and guide science in a direction that will ultimately benefit society, we will need to seriously consider the incentive structures around funding, program design, and science as an institution.