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Shaping National and Global Policy

While most graduate students are supported by research assistantships, a fellowship in their final year can propel our top students to new levels of achievement.The extra time and resources release these talented fellows to focus full-time on the last stages of their doctoral research and can launch their careers in prestigious arenas that continue to reflect well on UA as a destination for the world’s most talented students.

Kathryn Robison’s story exemplifies the additional level of excellence that fellowships can make possible. Kathryn has earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees at UA in the field of political science, with a focus on space policy and political communication. During her final year, she was awarded one of UA’s highly competitive Graduate Council Fellowships as a result of her outstanding academic success.

The fellowship relieved her of teaching duties while she completed her dissertation research –a project entitled “Making the Case for Space: Employing Political Communication to Set Domestic and International Policy.” Kathryn’s research explores how space policy is set in the US and how space serves “as a global commons.” As she observed in her groundbreaking research, “no comprehensive work to date has sought to understand how we communicate politically about space, from the micro to the macro level, and the importance of space exploration and technologies to the political realm.”

During her doctoral years and as a result of the fellowship, Kathryn attended professional conferences and presented her work. This training allowed her to hone her research questions and communicative skills and to network with the world’s leaders in the space policy field. She said, “because of the funding, I was able to publish my first book chapter and have the time to work with the international space community to highlight the achievements of the next generation.”

Kathryn was selected by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) as a Young Space Leader. IAF is an international space advocacy organization based in Paris that helps establish dialogues about space among scientists around the world. She will be sponsored by NASA to attend the 2021 International Astronautical Congress in Dubai where she will receive the award.

Having successfully defended her dissertation, Kathryn now serves as the co-coordinator of the Next Generation Plenary Steering Committee at the IAF as the Federation does the important work of laying the foundation for international space cooperation. She is also a member of the Young Professionals Programme Committee and the Space Education and Outreach Committees.

Reflecting on her time at UA, Kathryn said,“UA mentors want to make sure students have the resources they need to complete research at national and international levels. They are invested in our success as students. I don’t know that I would have gotten that anywhere else.”

Graduate fellowships represent that top level of investment for creating tomorrow’s leaders and ensuring that UA’s advanced graduates have a seat at the world’s decision-making tables.

Through the Rising Tide Capital Campaign, we will increase both the number and the competitiveness of our fellowships, to a pace that matches our aspirations and to a level that UA’s research stature merits.

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