The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation
Addressing the Critical Issues Facing Asia - 60 Years
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Expert Profile

Tarlise Townsend

Tarlise Townsend

2013-2014 Luce Scholar

Placement: National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategic Studies, Ministry of Science and Technology, Hanoi, Vietnam


During Tarlie's undergraduate career at Indiana University (IU), a major in neuroscience fed her curiosity about human behavior and, supplemented by research in Dr. Tom James' Perception and Neuroimaging Laboratory, provided the tools to systematically ask and investigate her own questions. Acting in parallel was her German major, which, through a study-abroad year in Freiburg, Germany, piqued her interest in big-picture issues, such as those at the intersection of psychology, health, and the environment. This led her to intern at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where she co-designed a study on risk literacy in health decision-making. She complemented this work in academia with an internship at the Environmental Protection Agency the following spring, where she developed communications materials for the Agency's hydraulic fracturing study. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and with highest honors in August 2012, she returned to the Max Planck Institute as a visiting researcher, with funding from a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Graduate Study Scholarship. There, she lead a study of the communication of uncertainty regarding climate change, and collaborated on two other projects investigating environmental decision-making and the role of psychology in policy-making. Next, Tarlie plans to pursue a career in global and environmental health, informed by her background in psychology. Tarlie also looks forward to promoting education in various capacities, as she did in college: while at IU, she served as the educational programmer for her residence hall, co-designed and co-taught a course on models of empathy, and mentored child survivors of domestic violence. During four years on the Scholarship Advisory Committee, she helped connect high-achieving high school students to their place at the University; and as a three-year member of the Board of Aeons, a research and advisory group to IU President Michael McRobbie, she completed research projects tackling major issues facing IU students. She took a more theoretical approach to education in her undergraduate honors thesis, which examined social inequality in the German public school system, and which won IU's Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.

Tarlie Townsend is with Department of Science and Technology Human Resource Policy and Organization, at the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategic Studies (NISTPASS) in Hanoi.  Tarlie works on the research team of the Institute's director, Dr. Bach Tan Sinh, on climate change adaptation and communication of climate change risk.

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