The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is pleased to announce that undergraduate senior honors student Yihana von Ritter was awarded The Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for her outstanding thesis examining HIV/AIDS policy in Papua New Guinea. Von Ritter was presented with the award at a ceremony held on June 11 during commencement weekend at Stanford University.
Von Ritter, a political science major, spent the summer of 2010 on the Papua New Guinea island of Karkar, where she performed extensive field research. She interviewed over 40 government officials, medical personnel, religious and civic leaders, youth, and HIV positive individuals. Her thesis entitled "Between Hope and Despair: An Assessment of HIV/AIDS Policy in Papua New Guinea," underscored the fact that while only 1% of Papua New Guinea's adult population is AIDS-infected, a public health crisis is looming if preventative policies are not swiftly adopted.
According to her thesis co-advisor Professor Emeritus David Abernethy, Von Ritter's thesis received the Firestone Medal--awarded to the top ten percent of honors theses in social science, science, and engineering--for its remarkable combination of social science analysis and informed policy advocacy.
"Von Ritter provides policy-relevant recommendations in her thesis to enhance interagency communication and encourage active government leadership (in Papua New Guinea)," said Abernethy. Von Ritter also worked closely with Francis Fukuyama, FSI senior fellow and CDDRL faculty member, who provided guidance and support during the thesis writing process.
Purun Cheong and Kamil Dada were both recipients of the CDDRL Undergraduate Honors Program "Best Thesis Award" for their outstanding research and policy-relevant scholarship. Cheong, an international relations major, critically evaluated the failed United Nations state-building efforts in East Timor in his thesis, "When the Blind lead: The United Nations in East Timor-Lessons in State Building."
After spending a summer conducting research in Pakistan, Dada, a political science major, wrote "Understanding International Democracy Assistance: A Case Study of Pakistan," a sobering account of democracy assistance to Pakistan. Cheong and Dada were both advised by CDDRL director Larry Diamond.
CDDRL congratulates the 2011 graduating class of CDDRL Undergraduate Honors Students:
Check out more photos of this event on our Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/StanfordCDDRL