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Spring 2023

Kaitlyn Pastino, "Discussion About Diplomacy Lab with Dr. Yannis Stivachtis and Mr. Robert Hodges" [Synopsis]

Established by former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013, the Diplomacy Lab offers hands-on experience with the State Department to undergraduate students of all disciplines. After the State Department sends out topics each semester, Virginia Tech teams have the opportunity to provide solutions to real global policy issues and present their findings and field questions in the nation’s capital. 

As the Diplomacy Lab’s most active university in the United States, Virginia Tech typically produces four to six projects per semester, made possible by teams of six to eight students, and has seen over one thousand students participate in the program over the years. Recent topics include researching how to use the Serbian Diaspora to improve Serbian relations, misinformation of Chinese intelligence in conflict zones, and how to improve recruitment of Thai and Southeast Asian students to come to the United States for higher education. Working on these specialized issues gives students the chance to dive deeper into their fields of interest and has proven to be a pathway to internships and jobs with the State Department as well as a fantastic resume builder for other research and diplomacy professions.

Students who would like to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to gain real world experience should seek involvement in a research class at Virginia Tech and reach out to Director Dr. Yannis Stivachtis at or Associate Director Mr. Robert Hodges at for more insight on current projects and desired skill sets. Because of the State Department’s wide range of needs and areas of interest, there are many ways for students of every major and discipline to contribute to the Diplomacy Lab’s efforts. Visit Diplomacy Lab | College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to learn more about the Diplomacy Lab program at Virginia Tech and Diplomacy Lab for information on the organization as a whole.