Research Intern, Foreign Policy and Defence Program
Umber Latafat was a Research Intern in the USSC's Foreign Policy and Defence Program.
What is your educational background?
I am a postgraduate student in the International Relations program at the University of Sydney, pursuing a specialisation in American Foreign Policy. Previously, I completed my undergraduate degree in Foreign Policy from Georgetown University in Qatar. My research interests include American foreign policy, water security and conflict, migration, and environmental politics.
What have you been working on in your time here at the USSC?
I am examining the US foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific region, with a particular focus on US engagement in regional multilateral institutions including APEC, the ARF, the EAS and the ADMM Plus. I have created a database of US cabinet-level visits to Asia-Pacific throughout the Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama and Trump administrations and divided them into 2 categories: bilateral (i.e. visits to the region for the simple purpose of meeting with the host country) versus multilateral (i.e. visits to attend regional forums of which the US is a member). I have also written an explanatory blogpost which analyses the data collected to show the significance of regional multilateral meetings as important drivers of US focus on the region, and provides visual representation of the travel trends of US cabinet officials.
What do you hope to do with your experience from the USSC?
I decided to intern at USSC because I wanted to use my academic knowledge to gain hands-on experience by working with experts on US-Asia strategic policies. During the internship, I received constant guidance from Susannah Patton which has really helped me hone my research and analytical skills. Exposure to her expertise and engagement with other team members in the program has enabled me to better understand interactions between Indo-Pacific countries and the US. It has also given me an insight into a think-tank’s operations and research process in Australia. After completing my Masters, I hope that my experience from this internship will help me pursue a career in foreign policy research.