Kyra Kocis (SFS’20), who plans to study social research methods and urban planning in the United Kingdom this fall,is one of two Georgetown students selected as a 2020 Marshall Scholar. She is one of 46 scholars across the country this year awarded the honor and will use the scholarship to pursue two master’s degrees.
Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Major/Degrees: Science, Technology and International Affairs (STIA), School of Foreign Service (SFS)
Research: Kocis is currently researching the social ramifications of technological modernization within the industrial textile cluster of hand block printers in Jaipur, India, with mentor SFS associate professor Shareen Joshi. The senior has made four trips to India over the past two years – two as part of the India Innovation Studio with SFS professors Irfan Nooruddin and Mark Giordano, one for a summer-long independent research project on Mumbai’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority, and another this past summer for her senior thesis research in Jaipur.
The Georgetown senior witnessed firsthand in India the unintended consequences of urban policies designed to promote economic growth and technological modernization.
“Mumbai’s new Metro project aims to reduce pressure on the city’s overburdened trains and to connect isolated neighborhoods,” says Kocis, who plans to study social research methods at the University of Sussex and regional and urban planning studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “However, it has also displaced millions of residents who were forcibly relocated to public housing blocks on the outskirts of the city.”
“Urbanization is a wicked problem, for which addressing one area of concern amplifies the challenges of another.”
A Professors’ View: Under the direction Nooruddin, Kocis managed the India Innovation Studio, was the teaching assistant for last year’s Studio class, oversaw and co-authored a 120-page report for the World Bank comparing reforms to irrigation management systems in four Indian states and was the professor’s main research assistant on the Gates Foundation-funded grant about public health provision in Bihar, India.
Nooruddin, the Hamad bin Khalifa Professor of Indian Politics at Georgetown, says Kocis is “one of the most naturally talented students I have taught in five years of teaching at Georgetown.”
“Kyra will arrive at whichever program is lucky enough to have her armed with analytical skills and field research experience unusual for most third-year Ph.D. students, let alone an undergraduate,” says Nooruddin, who also directs Georgetown’s India Initiative. “Add to these research chops a winning personality and an ability to speak confidently and clearly to any audience and you have someone with the tools necessary for success in whatever field she enters.”
“I wanted to experience new places and cultures, and make an impact in the world by implementing data-driven policies for international development,” Kocis explains. “Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service provided me with the ideal combination of policy study and practice, and the opportunity to combine these varied interests by majoring in Science, Technology and International Affairs.”
Campus and Community Activities: In addition to her involvement with the India Initiative, Kocis is the coordinator of the School of Foreign Service’s Peer Advising Program and has coordinated logistics for the university’s Admissions Ambassador Program. She also plays for Georgetown’s women’s club lacrosse team and serves as its president.
Awards and Recognitions: The Georgetown senior has received numerous recognitions during her academic career at the university – including the STIA Honors Thesis Program and the Krogh Honors Scholars program, for which she was selected as one of 15 sophomores for a data visualization course in partnership with the U.S. State Department’s Multilateral Moneyball project. She also was an SFS Improving Human Conditions Grant recipient and a Georgetown Social Innovation for Public Service Fund recipient, among other distinctions.
Internships and Positions: Kocis has been a research assistant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Strengthening State Capacity to Deliver Public Goods for Health, Bihar, India” project; consultant for the World Bank’s Solutions and Innovations in Procurement Team; summer intern at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center; and intern for the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s (NPRI) Transparent California program.
Future Goals: Kocis hopes to one day become a practitioner of international urban policy after she finishes her master’s degrees.
“Rapid urbanization is causing some of the greatest challenges of our time, including heightened levels of pollution, deterioration of overburdened infrastructure and the increasing difficulty of local governments to adequately provide basic services for all citizens,” Kocis says. “Whether working at international think tanks, in local government or serving as an advisor to national leaders, I intend to promote data-driven urban policies that make cities a better place to live for all.”