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Wenshu Li


Wenshu Li, PhD Candidate in Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement, won a two-year Evaluation Fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August, 2015.


It was a rigorous process involving an application (including an essay, transcripts, and resume), a survey, and three different interviews. At the end, she was matched with her first choice of available programs and started work with the Division of Global Health Protection in Atlanta, GA. There, she’s been utilizing quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods, preparing logic models, identifying and developing indicators and data sources, and coordinating activities to advance implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda.

We asked her some questions about her experience so far. Read her responses below.

What interested you in the Fellowship?
There are several reasons. First of all, CDC is a perfect place for me to gain program evaluation experience. I could work together with experienced evaluators in a team to conduct cross-national evaluation studies. I would have opportunities to learn how to collaborate with different stakeholders (such as Ministry of Health staff in different countries, CDC officers in other countries, leadership within division/center, etc.) and conduct large scale evaluation. Secondly, the fellowship provided great benefits. In addition to decent stipend, fellows have $5,000 each year to spend on professional trainings (workshop, conferences, books, etc), and a health insurance supplement. Finally, location. I really needed a job in the Atlanta area because my husband and his whole family live there. I wanted to stay with my family.

What has this experience been like?
It’s hard to describe the experience in several sentences. But overall I would say it is really a good experience for a new graduate like me. First of all, you have a great opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in graduate school into practice and make an impact on the public (domestically and internationally). Secondly, you get to know a lot of great people who are working on the field as experts and learn from them. Thirdly, I really enjoy the experience to collaborate with people from all over the world. My fellowship program is nested in the center of global health within the CDC. To conduct global health evaluation, we have to collaborate within CDC with other centers/subject matter experts, with other US agencies, such as USAID and DOD, and with international partners, such as Ministries of Health in other countries.

How has it enhanced your professional development?
The best part and uniqueness of the fellowship is its nature of providing the fellows with plenty of experiences and professional development opportunities. In addition to stay in the host program, fellows can reach out to work on other small projects through the fellowship program by using 20% of their time during a 2-3 month periods. The fellowship program also hosted a lot of workshops such as scientific writing and public speaking as well as provided $5000 professional development funding for each fellow. Fellows can make use of the funding to purchase books, attend conferences or workshops, and even take courses.

What impact did the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program have on obtaining this fellowship and the work you are completing as a Fellow?
Close mentorship and the curriculum of the program; the great opportunities to collaborate with faculty and students on diverse research projects and gain various field experiences. I was focused on evaluation of STEM programs. But, I’ve engaged in several public health evaluation field practice, which helped me to get my CDC Fellowship.

Do you enjoy living in Atlanta?
Yes, most of the time. I can stay with my husband and his family. I enjoy a lot of family time with them. There is also delicious food (from Asia) and interesting social events in Atlanta area. But, the traffic in Atlanta really is the reason I am afraid of living in big cities. I have to drive an hour one way from my home to work because of the traffic.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
I really want to express my deepest gratitude to my advisor, associate professor Gary J. Skolits, and other ESM faculty and students. Millions of thanks for your expertise, constructive comments, support, and time in my graduate study and life at ESM program. I could not get the fellowship without your endless support.


Evaluation, Statistics & Measurement

Wenshu is currently seeking her PhD in Educational Psychology and Research with a concentration in Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement. Originally from Hengyang, Hunan, China, she received her BS in Psychology at Peking University in Beijing and her MS in Educational Psychology at Miami University in Oxford, then came to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2012. We asked her to reflect on some of her past and current experiences. Read her responses below.

  • Shipley-Swann Graduate Fellowship – 2012-13
    Fellowship awarded from the Graduate School designated to recognize outstanding academic achievement.
  • Received CDC Evaluation Fellowship and working as an evaluation fellow at CDC
  • Completing the master’s degree in statistics through Intercollegiate Graduate Statistics Program while completing the PhD in Educational Psychology and Research
  • Co-author of two manuscripts that are currently under review
  • Served as Association Committee Member and Chairs at regional conferences (Mid-Western Educational Research Association)
  • Gave presentations at leading national evaluation (American Evaluation Association annual conference) and engineering education (American Society of Engineering Education) conferences
  • Refer to Curriculum Vita for more details

Wenshu Li with a peer and professor.

Current Occupation

CDC Evaluation Fellow
Center of Disease Control and Prevention, Center of Global Health, Division of Global Health Protection, Atlanta, GA

The responsibilities are: Serve on a team of evaluators responsible for assessing progress towards implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA); Work with available, adapted and new methods to assess public health capacities; Conceptualize, design, coordinate, implement and disseminate basic program evaluations in support of GHS.
• Use of both quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods
• Preparation of logic models
• Identification of existing indicators and data sources, and development of new indicators and data sources
• Conduct and coordinate activities to quantify progress towards targets set for GHS implementation with Ministries of Health, other U.S. Government (USG) agencies, and other international partners present in country

Personal Interests

I love outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. I also enjoy family time that I spend the most my weekends with my family (watching movies and having dinner). In addition, I’m a musician playing Chinese fiddle (Erhu). I have been invited to perform at multiple UT activities and Knoxville local events.

Future/Vocational Goals

My short-term goal is to become a full-time employee at the CDC as a Health Scientist leading monitoring and evaluation activities or serving as a biostatistician. My ultimate career goal will be working as a tenured-track faculty member at a university. I would like to apply my evaluation and statistics experiences that I gained in my the field to teach program evaluation, research methods, and statistics to undergraduate and graduate students.

Wenshu Li with husband.

What sold you on this program/department/university?

Close mentorship and the curriculum of the program; the great opportunities to collaborate with faculty and students on diverse research projects and gain various field experiences.

What would you tell an incoming student who joins the program/department?

Talk to your mentor and advanced students when you have questions and engage in multiple field practice projects. I was focused on evaluation of STEM programs. But, I’ve engaged in several public health evaluation field practice, which helped me to get my CDC Fellowship.

What do you think has been the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

The ESM seminar. You will have opportunity to gain field experience, learn how to write your CV, editing your manuscript, etc.

What is the best tidbit/find you have about UTK/Knoxville?

This is a beautiful campus with great faculty and students. You will never regret your time spent here!