University of Pittsburgh
July 5, 2011

Dick Thornburgh Summer Fellowship Established at Pitt

Inaugural award winner’s research will chronologically analyze Thornburgh’s response to the 1979 Three Mile Island crisis
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and the University of Pittsburgh Honors College have established the Dick Thornburgh Summer Fellowship for undergraduate research. Priyanka Kaura, a University of Pittsburgh junior majoring in economics and sociology in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences, has received the inaugural fellowship. Kaura is from Berwyn, Pa.

The fellowship was founded to support undergraduate research into issues of governance addressed in Thornburgh’s long and eminent service in national and international leadership. Fellows receive a stipend of $3,500 to perform independent research and to participate in the academic community of Pitt Honors College’s Brackenridge Summer Research Fellowship Program, a weekly roundtable seminar.

Kaura’s research is titled "Preparing for the Unexpected: A Critical Analysis of Public Responses to Crisis Management in Dick Thornburgh's Gubernatorial Terms." She will examine Thornburgh's notably high approval ratings against a backdrop of crisis management in three separate crises—the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, the Graterford Prison hostage crisis, and the Centralia Mine fire. Using the Dick Thornburgh Archive Collection housed in Pitt’s University Library System, Kaura will rely on Thornburgh’s published papers, press releases, and private notes to complete her project.

Kaura serves as a research assistant through Pitt’s Honors Research Assistants program, working with Pitt assistant professor of sociology Melanie Hughes on a project titled “Election of Minority Women and Men to National Legislatures.” She also was an intern at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC through the First Experiences in Research Program on “Teach Your Children Better,” under the supervision of Aletha Akers, assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences.

Active in the community, Kaura is a tutor and education board member for FORGE (Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Growth and Empowerment), a tutor for Mission Acceptance, and a board member of Humanitarian and Environment Alliance.

Kaura is a Pitt Dean’s Star and is on Pitt’s Dean’s list. In addition to her majors, Kaura also is working on certificates in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and in West European Studies.