Global Policy Research Institute awards first graduate research fellowships

May 6, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Global Policy Research Institute has awarded its first Graduate Student Research Fellowships to two Purdue University graduate students.

The awards provide $12,000 to each student to conduct research related to the completion of their thesis or dissertation that furthers the mission of GPRI. This year's fellowship winners are Katie Cahill-Rincón and Emre Gencer. 

Cahill-Rincón, a doctoral candidate in political science from Clarkston, Wash., is studying the distribution of social goods, specifically child immunizations, in democratic versus non-democratic nations.

Gencer, a doctoral student in chemical engineering from Istanbul, Turkey, will focus his research on creating a transitional energy source through the combination of currently used fossil fuels and solar energy. 

"Both of these students are great examples of the excellent level of research GPRI was looking for in our first year giving out this fellowship," said Dennis Depew, the institute's interim director. "The innovative ideas they presented combine science and public policy, which is exactly what we wanted to see."

Cahill-Rincón's proposal to study distribution of child immunizations fits right into the institute's main mission: to inform policymakers about critical issues such as food security and health, Depew said.

"Policy is about what governments choose to do and not to do," Cahill-Rincón said. "And part of what I’m examining is what they have chosen to do when it comes to child immunizations."

Her project compares the consistency and overall success of child immunizations in India, the largest democracy in the world, with politically unstable countries, such as Bangladesh. She will include those case studies in a larger pool of data from 50 different developing countries. 

"Some nations, like Bangladesh, have chosen to be entrepreneurial and partner with external organizations, while other nations, like India, have made different choices; partly due to concerns about sovereignty. Both of those choices have an important impact on policy outcomes."

Cahill-Rincón, who is going to India in June, will examine the widest discrepancies India faces when it comes to child immunization rates across the country. After completing fieldwork in India, Cahill-Rincón will travel to Bangladesh in September.

Gencer is taking a physical rather than social science approach to his project. His research looks at potentially effective methods for prolonging the life span of current energy sources, specifically those used in the transportation sector and electricity generation and heating, by combining them with the most abundant sustainable energy source, solar energy.

"We need a transition solution," Gencer said. "Now we have fossil fuels, but in 100 years we won't have fossil fuels. If we start using renewable energy, we will extend this period and the transition to using other sources of energy will be more smoother."

This fellowship is allowing Gencer to add another layer to his project.

"We can do optimizations and find new processes, but without the policy aspect it is really hard to express ourselves and show the importance of this project," Gencer said. "So with this fellowship it will be much easier to address these aspects and to reach the right people."

The fellowship provides stipends for research-related expenses from May to November of 2013. Cahill-Rincón and Gencer will file reports and policy briefs with GPRI following the conclusion of their research.  

The Global Policy Research Institute enhances the visibility and impact of Purdue University's strengths in policy-related and multidisciplinary research, education, service and outreach to inform decision-makers on global policy issues. 

Writer: Morgan Stephens, 765-490-4855, 

Sources: Dennis Depew, 765-496-3844,

Katie Cahill,

Emre Gencer,

Related websites:

U.S. Borlaug Graduate Research Fellowship Grants:

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):

Purdue Center for Global Food Security:

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