Yale College junior Pranav Pattatathunaduvil has been awarded the 2024 Douglas A. Beck Prize by the Jackson School of Global Affairs.

The $1,000 award is given to undergraduates who have demonstrated a deep interest in and commitment to global affairs, with a preference for students interested in a career supporting national security. Winners are selected based on high academic achievement, leadership potential, personal integrity, and commitment to public service.

A global affairs major recently admitted into the school’s five-year B.A.-B.S./M.P.P. degree program, Pattatathunaduvil was drawn to Yale and to the Jackson School because of its broad curriculum and academic flexibility.

“I’m able to take courses that touch upon various areas of global affairs and determine my areas of interest,” he said. “I’m also excited to be at Jackson at a time of growth — new investment, new courses, and new professors.”

Pattatathunaduvil says he initially became interested in global affairs as a high school student in Texas, where he competed in national speech and debate competitions. He began reading news articles and books about current events and policy, with a particular interest in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. In 2019, he was part of a group that won a national quiz competition on global affairs, earning a trip to Doha, Qatar, where he met officials from Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Embassy.

Pattatathunaduvil earned a prestigious Calvin Coolidge Presidential Scholarship to attend Yale, where he has focused his academic interest on Indo-Pacific foreign policy — reinforced after he completed an internship with the Hudson Institute’s South Asia program. He has also interned at the Special Competitive Studies Project as a foreign policy research assistant and, this summer, he will intern at the State Department’s Office of Pakistan Affairs in Washington, D.C.

He says his most formative course has been “Intelligence, Espionage, and American Foreign Policy,” taught by Ted Wittenstein, which covers the relationship of intelligence to U.S. foreign policy and national security decision-making. Pattatathunaduvil also took Wittenstein’s yearlong Schmidt Program class at Jackson, “Artificial Intelligence, Emerging Technologies, and National Power,” and participated in a recent trip to China for an AI dialogue with Chinese experts and students.

“I have been impressed by the powerful intellect, capacity for critical thought, strong and persuasive writing skills, and fine character that Pranav has demonstrated as a Yale undergraduate,” says Wittenstein, lecturer in global affairs and executive director of International Security Studies. “He is a worthy recipient of the Beck Prize, as he continues to pursue his passion at the nexus of emerging technologies, national security, and public service.”

At Yale, Pattatathunaduvil has helped establish the Geopolitics of Technology Initiative, an organization that brings together students from Yale and the College of William and Mary’s Global Research Institute to explore ways global emerging technology strategy can be more creative, inclusive, and responsible. He is also the incoming president of the Alexander Hamilton Society at Yale and co-president of the Yale Policy Institute.

In the fall, Pattatathunaduvil will participate in a Jackson School senior capstone project with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, led by retired Rear Adm. John Weigold and focused on economic strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. He hopes that completing the B.A./M.P.P. program will lead to a position at the State Department and, potentially, a role with the National Security Council — his dream job.

“I’m passionate about public service and inspired to look for opportunities to bring together the private and public sectors to help create a better world,” says Pattatathunaduvil. “Winning this award, which is in honor of that mission, is a reflection of what I hope to do in my life.”