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WSD-Handa Fellowship

Through the generosity of the Worldwide Support for Development and Dr. Handa Haruhisa, Pacific Forum has established the WSD-Handa Fellowship Program in 2011.

The program offers resident and non-resident fellowships, in addition to hosting a number of in-person and virtual gatherings designed to enhance emerging leaders’ understanding of complex regional issues and facilitate their meaningful engagement with established policymakers, global leaders, and their peers. By providing promising next-generation voices with expert mentorship and professional development opportunities, Pacific Forum’s WSD-Handa Fellowship Program actively contributes to WSD’s enduring mission of cultivating informed leaders dedicated to cooperation, innovation, and the active pursuit of a more peaceful and prosperous world. The program’s activities are guided by the WSD-Handa Chair in Peace Studies at Pacific Forum.

The resident and non-resident fellowships both provide young scholars and up-and-coming professionals with a vehicle for delving deeper into the political issues, economic trends, and security challenges that define the geopolitical dynamics of East Asia with a particular focus on Japan. Resident and non-resident fellows join the Pacific Forum team for six months or one year respectively.

While all are welcome to apply, special consideration is given to young professionals from Southeast Asia and to those in Europe and the US whose previous academic or professional experience has focused on East Asian security issues. WSD-Handa Fellows should already have some knowledge of East Asian security and economic developments and should use this fellowship as an opportunity to take a more in-depth look into these issues and offer solutions for improvement.


Eligibility and How to Apply:

  • Applicants may be of North American, European, or Southeast Asian nationality. Priority will be given to those from lesser-developed Southeast Asian nations including Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, or Vietnam.
  • Have completed their undergraduate education and
    • Have several years of experience in Indo-Pacific security issues, or
    • Has completed or is completing their graduate education (master’s or doctoral)
  • Proficient in English (verbal and written skills).
  • For non-U.S. citizens, applicant must possess or be eligible for an extended stay visa.

To apply for the Handa Fellowship, please complete the Non-resident WSD-Handa Fellowship online application form and include all materials listed below. All materials must be written in English. Any statement in your application that is found to be false will be grounds for disqualification.

  • A cover letter detailing interests and why the WSD-Handa Fellowship will contribute to the applicant’s professional development.
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A letter of recommendation
  • A description of a research project to undertake as a WSD-Handa Fellow (not to exceed 1,500 words)

Current Resident Fellows:

Brandt Kekoa Mabuni is a resident WSD-Handa Fellow at Pacific Forum and a working group member on nuclear policy issues with the BASIC Emerging Voices Network. He is currently conducting research on critical mineral supply chains and WMD proliferation pathways through commercial nuclear programs, and is broadly interested in energy statecraft and safeguards for dual-use technologies. Previous to Pacific Forum, Brandt spent several years in the financial industry and supply chain management. He holds a master’s degree in Asian International Affairs from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and a bachelor’s degree in International Business from Azusa Pacific University.

Current Nonresident WSD-Handa Fellows:

Jamie Lee graduated with a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is currently a WSD-Handa Research Fellow at Pacific Forum. Her research interests are Japan affairs, regional security, and democratization. She previously interned at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) where she pursued an original research project and contributed to multiple publications sponsored by the Center. She is actively involved in dialogues relating to U.S. foreign policy and is passionate about establishing a career where she can play an active role in upholding a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

Jung Seob “Scott” Kim, a Senior Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst at a Fortune 100 enterprise, has been selected as a Nonresident WSD-Handa Fellow at Pacific Forum. In this role, he will spearhead collaborative strategies between Japan and the U.S., strategically countering cyber espionage, with a special emphasis on North Korean state-sponsored cyber entities. He was also selected for the Analyst Exchange Program (AEP) – Increasing Threats of Deepfake Identities as part of the U.S. Office of Director National Intelligence (ODNI)/U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Intelligence and Analysis. Scott holds an M.S. in Criminal Justice from Lamar University. He received his B.A. in Criminal Justice and minor in Pre-Law from the University of Texas at Arlington. He will be pursuing M.S. in Cybersecurity from New York University Tandon School of Engineering in Fall 2023.

Dr. Indra Alverdian is currently the 2023-2024 WSD Handa Non-Research Fellow at the US Pacific Forum. He is currently a Lecturer at the International Relations Study Program at President University in Indonesia. Dr. Alverdian teaches various courses including Sea power and Maritime Affairs, Ocean Governance in World Politics, Foreign Policy Analysis and Defence Policy. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy on Maritime Policy and Strategy from the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong in Australia. Previously, he was the 2019 Visiting Research Fellow at the Sea Strategic Profiling Program at Abo Akademi University in Turku Finland, and was a 2020-2021 Research Associate with the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies at Kings College, United Kingdom. His research interests include maritime politics, maritime security, strategic culture and defence and security studies.

Michal Boksa (CZE) specializes in geopolitics, transnational threats, and NATO’s security policies. He has worked at the NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, NATO Defense College, and most recently within the NATO Resolute Support Mission to Afghanistan. Additionally, he has worked as a Lecturer at the University of Economics in Prague; and as a Research Fellow for the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Czech Association for International Affairs. He received his master’s degree in International Relations and Politics from the University of Cambridge.  


Naomi Slusser (USA) is a New York City native, and is assigned as a Political Science Instructor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. She holds a B.S. in English from the United States Naval Academy, and an MBA from the University of California – Los Angeles. As a career Naval Officer, she has completed multiple deployments throughout the maritime Middle East and Indo- Pacific. She is currently a Regional Security Studies Fellow with the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and is completing a master’s in Asian International Affairs at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. Her research interests include U.S.-China competition in the Indo-Pacific and China’s economic diplomacy in maritime Southeast Asia.


Allison Hart (USA) is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Most recently she has worked as a Title VIII Black Sea Fellow hosted by the Middle East Institute funded by the US State Department. During the fellowship, she conducted two months of fieldwork in Tbilisi, Georgia where her project focused on legacies of the Rose Revolution and how they manifest in present-day Georgia. Her research has largely focused on Black Sea maritime security, Russian influence in the MENA region, legacies of the Soviet Union in former USSR states, and Russia’s role in the Black Sea.


Sunny Cheung (HK) is a young politician in exile currently based in the US. Sunny was the founder of the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation and testified as the only student representative in the US Congress in 2019. He organized large-scale rallies in Hong Kong, which successfully mobilized hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers. In 2020, before Beijing intervened and issued several arrest warrants on him, Sunny was elected in the final democratic elections in the history of Hong Kong, where 600,000 people voted. Later, the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly named and shamed Sunny for his activism. In exile, Sunny continuously leads the movement overseas, and he is now serving as an advisor to the Hong Kong Democracy Council and one of the initiators of the Hong Kong Charter 2021. Sunny is also the founder of the largest overseas Hong Kong media – Flow HK. He is now an MA candidate at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.


Arshid Iqbal Dar (IND) received his master’s and PhD from the Department of Political Science University of Kashmir. He specializes in International Relations, Non-Western IR, Indo-Pacific, India’s Foreign Policy, South Asia and India-China Relations. His research has been published in reputed journals like Israel Affairs, Asian Affairs, India Quarterly and Chinese Political Science Review. Presently, Arshid is exploring the dynamics of China and the India-Japan Alignment in Indo-Pacific, its challenges and future prospects.


Lieutenant Colonel Brian Kerg (USA), USMC, is a prior-enlisted mortarman, communications officer, operational planner, and Nonresident Fellow with Marine Corps University’s Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare. He holds a M.S. in Information from the University of Michigan, a M.A. in Military History from Norwich University, a M.A. in Operational Studies from the School of Advanced Warfighting, and a M.A. in Operational Art and Science from Air University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and has deployed and served across the Western Pacific. He is a frequent contributor to the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings, the Center for International Maritime Security, the Marine Corps Gazette, and other professional journals. He is currently the Northeast Asia Plans Officer, III Marine Expeditionary Force, in Okinawa, Japan.