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Kris Zhu with straight black hair draped over the shoulders of her black blazer

DURHAM, N.C. — Senior Kristin Zhu was selected for the competitive James C. Gaither Junior Fellowship at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Each year, the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program offers approximately 14 one-year fellowships to qualified graduating seniors and recent graduates. Gaither Junior Fellows work as research assistants to Carnegie’s senior scholars. The Gaither Fellowships begin on September 1st, and fellows serve full-time positions for one year.

A public policy and political science double major, Zhu sought out research opportunities throughout her time in undergraduate that allowed her to learn about America’s role in the world. Her work in Dr. Erika Weinthal and Dr. Jeannie Sowers lab, where she coded and analyzed the targeting of civilian infrastructure in Libya, inspired her honors thesis where she studies the impact of foreign belligerents in civil wars. When she wasn’t doing research in the lab, she filled leadership roles with Duke’s chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society and the Duke Moot Court.

During her Gaither Fellowship year, Zhu will work with the American Statecraft program, where she hopes to contribute to the Pivotal States series and research gaps in American foreign policy. The American Statecraft program is attentive to the history and values of the U.S. and suggests foreign policy strategies accordingly.

“It is an incredible honor to have been selected for the James C. Gaither Fellowship. I am indebted to the mentorship, dedication, and compassion of the Duke Nationally Competitive Scholarships office, Professor Erika Weinthal, Professor Shelley Liu, and Professor Rachel Myrick,” said Zhu. “The Carnegie Endowment provides spectacular opportunities for Junior Fellows to engage with Washington’s foreign policy space. The Endowment also nurtures and produces incredible scholars, and I am excited to kickstart my career in an organization with unparalleled global impact.”

Duke students and alumni can receive support for opportunities like the Gaither Junior Fellowship from the Nationally Competitive Scholarships team at the Office of University Scholars and Fellows.

A complete list of this year’s fellowship winners can be found at