Graduate Students Form a Tradition of Civic Leadership

For students in the Center for Biology and Society (CBS), civic leadership is quickly becoming a tradition.  

For 2015-16, doctoral candidate Ernest Nkansah-Dwamena received a Spirit of Service Scholarship, which recognizes dynamic student leaders at ASU. He is the third CBS student in two years to receive the prestigious award.

For the scholarship, Nkansah-Dwamena will participate in the Spirit of Service Scholars (SoSS) program, run through ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The program, which lasts for two semesters, develops scholarship winners into even stronger leaders.

Nkansah-Dwamena is a student in the in the Ecology, Economics, and Ethics of the Environment (4E) PhD track. He studies issues of food security in African countries, especially Tanzania, where he’s spending summer 2015 collecting data.

In his time at ASU, Nkansah-Dwamena has participated in student organizations, mentored new students as part of the Shades program, and volunteered for local charities to collect food for homeless shelters and to teach English to refugees.

For the SoSS program, Nkansah-Dwamena aims to learn how to build programs that unite scholars, policy makers, and local communities so that they can address issues of food and water sustainability. The program will connect him with professionals who work on those issues in Arizona.

Nkansah-Dwamena plans to later deploy the skills learned in the SoSS in Ghana and Tanzania.

While Nkansah-Dwamena will represent CBS and the School of Life Sciences in SoSS, he’s taking the place of two outgoing Spirit of Service Scholars from CBS.

Anika Larson’s interests in public health made her a natural fit as a 2014-15 Spirit of Service Scholar.

Larson, who graduated in May 2015 with undergraduate degrees in global studies and biology and society, helped organize an SoSS seminar on undocumented immigrants in the US and some of the health and incarceration risks that those immigrants face.

She also helped to mentor a group of high school students to develop a program at their school to increase the number of peers who will pursue post secondary education.

Larson will start a master’s program in public health at the University of Washington in Fall 2015.

Steve Elliott is another outgoing Spirit of Service Scholar.

Elliott is the editor in chief of the Embryo Project Encyclopedia, one of ASU’s largest science outreach venues, reaching greater than 75,000 people per month.

As part of SoSS, Elliott co-organized expert panels about issues of water and energy sustainability in Arizona. He also spent a lot of time traveling the state and networking with leaders in philanthropy, bioscience and biotechnology sectors, and state policy.

Like Larson, Elliott helped mentor a group of local high school students to construct a program for post secondary education.

Elliott remains in CBS as a doctoral candidate, where he studies evolutionary theory, science communication, and history and philosophy of science.

More Information: Steve Elliott