CDDRL honors students recognized for outstanding theses


The graduating class of 2015-2016 CDDRL senior honors students take a group photo with CDDRL Mosbacher Director Francis Fukuyama and the Fisher Family CDDRL Honors Program Director Stephen Stedman. From left to right: Didi Kuo (CDDRL honors program mentor); Jelani Munroe; Stephen Stedman; Tebello Qhotsokoane; Paul Shields; Shang-Ch’uan Li; Hannah Potter; Hadley Reid; Vehbi Deger Turan; Sarah Johnson; Hannah Meropol; Rehan Adamjee; Anna Blue
Photo credit: 
Alice Kada

Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law congratulates its undergraduate honors class for completing their original research and undergraduate theses. They graduated from Stanford University on June 12 with honors in their respective disciplines.

Graduates include Vehbi “Deger” Turan, who was awarded the Firestone Medal for his thesis entitled “Augmenting Citizen Participation in Governance through Natural Language Processing.” Turan’s project employed existing literature on democratic participation, case studies and an original algorithm in order to devise a means by which government agencies can evaluate public comments received via the Internet on political issues.

The Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research recognizes Stanford's top ten percent of honors theses in social science, science and engineering among the graduating senior class.

Turan decided to explore this topic shortly after joining the Fisher Family CDDRL Honors Program.

According to the program’s Director Stephen Stedman, “After listening to a research seminar at our Center, Deger believed that he could develop an aggregation tool to help policy makers understand such immense data.”

Francis Fukuyama, the Mosbacher Director of CDDRL also noted, “Deger is perhaps the best example to date of why interschool honors programs are valuable. He is a computer science major who came to us expressing an interest in using his background in artificial intelligence to help solve critical public policy problems.” Fukuyama together with Associate Professor of Political Science Justin Grimmer advised Turan on his honor’s thesis.

Turan will be starting a new position at Atomic Labs’ Zenreach start-up after graduation.

The CDDRL Award for Outstanding Thesis was given to Rehan Adamjee whose thesis explored the different factors at play in choosing between healthcare providers in a rural area of Pakistan.

Adamjee and Turan are just two members of a the 2016 cohort of 11 honors students, many of whom traveled to foreign countries to collect original data, conduct interviews and research their thesis topics. Their topics range from timely case studies on the use of social media as a tool of empowerment to a glimpse at the effects of regional politics on healthcare reform in Post-Soviet Russia.

The 2016 class joins 76 graduates from CDDRL’s honors program since its launch in 2007.

The Fisher Family CDDRL Honors Program trains Stanford students from diverse majors to write theses with global policy implications on a subject related to democracy, development and the rule of law. Students attend a class on research methods the spring quarter of their junior year. During their senior year, in tandem with the CDDRL research community and their faculty advisor, students conduct both local and international research in order to write their theses. Students travel to Washington, DC for the annual honors college to meet policymakers and members of the development community to enrich their thesis topics.

A list of our graduating students along with links to all their theses can be found below.



Rehan Adamjee

Economics; Public Policy

Anna Blue

International Relations

Sarah Johnson


Shang-Ch’uan Li

Materials, Science and Engineering

Advice and Consent: Increase in Malaysian Judges Appointed from the Practicing Bar after the Passage of the Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2009

Advisors: Erik Jensen, Justin Grimmer

Hannah Meropol

Political Science

Jelani Munroe

Economics; Public Policy

Advisor: Pete Klenow

Hannah Potter

International Relations

Resettlement and Trauma of Refugees and Asylees in the Bay Area

Advisor: Stephen Stedman

Tebello Qhotsokoane

Public Policy

Hadley Reid

Human Biology

Paul Shields

International Relations; Slavic Language & Literature

Deger Turan

Computer Science

Augmenting Citizen Participation in Governance Through Natural Language Processing

Advisors: Francis Fukuyama, Justin Grimmer


Meet our Class of 2017