Sep 2021

Harvard Graduate Capstone Project—PROJECT TERRA

A U.S.-China-led techno-diplomatic proposal for transitioning the world to sustainable energy. Advised by Ambassador Nicholas Burns. Generously supported by grants from the Harvard University Center for the Environment and the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Ambassador Burns: "John is the most impressive student I have taught in his understanding of China."

Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative

I'm honored to lead Our vision is to be the most influential foreign policy student organization in the world. I've built a team of 28 to lead the creation of:

  • The world's largest foreign policy program for high school students. Inaugural class of 615 students from 62 countries and 150+ speakers including Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Steve Schwarzman.
  • An annual rotating Harvard-Tsinghua U.S.-China Young Leaders Dialogue to produce a joint communiqué; in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué in 2022
  • An interdisciplinary foreign policy forum bringing together Harvard students and faculty from all disciplines—medicine, law, business, engineering, the arts, etc.
  • Harvard’s largest undergraduate-led research program (several hundred Harvard undergraduates each semester); past partners include State Dept, Pentagon, White House National Security Council, Intelligence Community, Facebook, and foreign governments on every continent.
  • A leadership speaker series where we've hosted conversations with David Petraeus, Robert Gates, Wendy Sherman, Steve Hadley, William McRaven, among others.
  • Jointly-organized foreign policy summits on every continent in partnership with top foreign universities

Jan 2021 - May 2022

1st Harvard-Tsinghua U.S.-China Young Leaders Dialogue

Leading Harvard's undergraduate foreign policy group to jointly organize with Tsinghua University's Student Association for Global Affairs—the first partnership of its kind at the undergraduate level between the U.S. and China's leading universities. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of U.S.-China rapproachement, we are drafting a joint communiqué to:

  • Outline the most consequential issues facing humanity: 1) space & life beyond Earth on the Moon and Mars, 2) sustainable energy, 3) AI, 4) genetic engineering, 5) global digital finance, 6) and global digital trade.
  • Formulate a productive framework for the United States and China to handle these issues; for those issues that are more competitive—defining the rules of competition; for those issues that can be more cooperative—leverage complementary strengths to achieve a solution through synergy.
  • Jointly present these proposals to senior American and Chinese leaders in politics, business, technology, and finance across virtual meetings in classrooms at Harvard and Tsinghua.

Jul 2021 - Apr 2021

1st Harvard Foreign Policy Forum

Bringing all Harvard schools together for the first time to explore foreign policy from an interdisciplinary approach leveraging expertise in law, engineering, business, divinity, design, medical, etc.

HBS students might apply management theory and organizational behavior to the Communisty Party of China, Harvard Medical School students might provide an in-depth psychological analysis of a prominent world leader, or a student from Harvard Design School might break down what makes effective propaganda.

Jun 2021

1st Harvard Undergraduate International Relations Scholars Program

Led a 14-person team of Harvard undergraduates to create the largest program of its kind in the world for students interested in foreign policy. Inaugural class of 615 scholars from 62 countries; more than 150 speakers contributing across 4 days.

Moderated keynote conversations with Dr. Henry Kissinger (U.S. Secretary of State), Eric Schmidt (Google/Alphabet), Graham Allison (Harvard Kennedy School), Steve Schwarzman (Blackstone), Joshua Cooper Ramo (Kissinger Associates), John Brennan (CIA Director), Robert O'Brien (U.S. National Security Advisor), and Tamir Pardo (Mossad Director). Other guests included Leon Panetta (SecDef/CIA Director), Michèle Flournoy (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), and Gen. John Allen (Brookings).

Full guest list

Coverage by the Harvard Gazette

My foreword

Eric Schmidt: "I really admire what you are trying to do here. This is exactly the kind of effort that I think is going to make the world a better place, and I could not say more supportive things about, collectively, the audience and the people you have assembled."
Jan - May 2021

Host of Conversations on Leadership in Foreign Policy

Hosted among others:
  • David Petraeus (CIA Director)
  • John Bolton (U.S. National Security Advisor)
  • Robert Gates (CIA Director/U.S. Secretary of Defense)
  • Wendy Sherman (U.S. Deputy Secretary of State)
  • H. R. McMaster (U.S. National Security Advisor)
  • Nicholas Burns (nominee for U.S. Ambassador to China)
  • Steve Hadley (U.S. National Security Advisor)
  • William McRaven (Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command)
  • Jared Cohen (CEO, Jigsaw, Alphabet)
  • Kent Walker (SVP, Global Affairs, Google)
  • Ben Rhodes (Deputy U.S. National Security Advisor)

General David Petraeus: “You clearly assembled an impressive group and you guided it very nicely. Please share with whomever leads the program there next year that I would be willing to do another such event."
Oct 2019 - Present

Harvard Foreign Policy Research Program

Created Harvard’s largest undergraduate-led research program in 4 semesters, expanding from 0 to 200 Harvard undergraduate researchers on 51 total projects for the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Mission to NATO, Belfer Center, House Intel, House Foreign, USTR, White House NSC, Facebook, USAID, UN, Space Force, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, USCYBERCOM; foreign governments of Sudan, South Korea, Afghanistan, Peru, Ukraine, Pakistan, Sweden, Egypt, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, and many more.
Dec 2020 - Mar 2022

Harvard Undergraduate Thesis—A Case Study in Applied History: Lessons from Dr. Henry Kissinger’s Opening to China for Sino-U.S. Techno-Diplomacy

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Kissinger's secret trip to China (1971-2021), this thesis applies the lessons from Dr. Kissinger's opening to China for contemporary U.S.-China techno-diplomacy and in the process, demonstrates the utility of "digital applied history," a new interdisciplinary field that could potentially mitigate the challenges that traditionally come with applied history as a policy tool.

Ongoing undergraduate thesis in government advised by Founding Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School Graham Allison.

Henry Kissinger: "Dear Mr. Ferguson: Graham Allison has introduced me to many bright and interesting students over our decades of friendship, but you are the very first to use technology to render me a great kindness. My staff has walked me through the remarkable interface you have assembled on my travels as Secretary of State. It is a delightful resource for students and scholars of American foreign policy. I am amazed and grateful... I would like to set up a brief phone call with you to express my thanks directly. We will be in touch."

General David Petraeus: "It is seriously impressive and should be a great guide for others seeking to do this for other senior officials over the years."
Dec 2020

Kissinger: A Case Study from the Chinese Perspective

For Harvard Law School 3061: Negotiations Lessons From American Secretaries of State. I was the sole undergraduate.
Jul 2020


Ongoing project to assemble the most comprehensive visual organizational diagram of senior political leadership in the People's Republic of China. Feedback appreciated.
May 2021

CATL: China's Battery King

An HBS-style case study on Chinese battery giant CATL.
May 2021

The Fifth World Order: Friedrich Nietzsche and Henry Kissinger

Mar 2021

Niccolò Machiavelli and the Governance of the People's Republic of China

Apr 2021

Brookings China Strategy Initiative

Full Report: Becoming a "Cyber Great Power:" China's Two Voices in Telecommunications Discourses. Co-authored with Brookings China Strategy Initiative Founding Director and White House National Security Council China Director Dr. Rush Doshi. Generously supported by a grant from the Harvard Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.
Dec 2020

Mapping Sino-Indian Hydropolitics

Modelling China's plan to build the world's largest hydropower project.
Dec 2020

What Does Jack Ma Want in Africa?

Dec 2019

Chinese Proxy Political Warfare in Africa

Nov 2020

Visualizing Trends in Global Research

Visually contextualizes trends in global research across the most cited papers. Inspired by IGA505: Solving Tech's Public Dilemmas with Secretary Ash Carter at the Harvard Kennedy School. Video demo.
Sep 2020

China-Europe Research for Philippe Le Corre

China's Diplomatic Duo Fails to Engineer a Successful Summit with Europe
Aug 2020

How Europe's Big 3 Are Shifting on China
Mar 2020

China's Rising Presence in the West Balkans
Aug 2020

Visualizing American Diplomacy

Recognized by Secretary Pompeo for placing 1/400 participants in building interactive diplomatic visualizations for the National Museum of American Diplomacy.
Aug 2020

Visualizing China's Ambassadors

Advised by Ambassador Nicholas Burns. Generously supported by a grant from the Worley-Drankoski Fund for Undergraduate Research.

Maps China's ambassadors (7/2020) and their diplomatic networks.

Visualizes in 3D, the career connections among China's ambassadors (7/2020). This version offers filtering and sub-networks.
Jul 2020

How is the World Responding to a Changing China?

Interactive map that uses weights to see how foreign countries are responding to China. Led Carnegie-Tsinghua Center Founding Director Paul Haenle's research team to build this.
May 2020

The Geography of China's Foreign Investment

Examines whether greater Chinese aid and investment is allocated toward the birth regions of foreign leaders.

Mapping China's Foreign Aid

Mar 2020

Visualizing China's Foreign Aid

May 2020

Visualizing the Strategy of China's Arms Trade

Professor Johnston: "This is an excellent study. The analysis is sophisticated and systematic, well-researched and well-written... The effort in building the visualizations is impressive and would be useful public goods for researchers."

Visualizes the global arms trade.

Visualizes in 3D, the global arms trade. PRC deals in red.
May 2020

Perspectives on Chinese Digital RMB Strategy

Professor Parker: "This is your best work by far."
May 2020

Chinese Astropolitics

Professor Imparato: "Thank you for this excellent paper. It was a true pleasure to read. Your analysis persuasively addresses the link between China's space strategy and China's perception of its own history and present role on Earth. Your argument about sovereignty concerns is particularly convincing." Subsequently invited by Professor Imparato to be a guest lecturer in GOVT E-1987 American Foreign Policy.
Dec 2019

A Social Network Analysis of Xi Jinping-Era Chinese Elite Political Leadership

Professor Lei: "You are the only student who has received a full score."

Visualizes in 3D, the shared work history between the Central Committee members after the 19th Party Congress offering insights into factions, clustering, and centrality within China's political elite. English version.
Dec 2019

Brushing the Heavens

Using skyscrapers to better understand Chinese economics, politics, and society. Professor Koss: "What a fascinating exploration, full of insights into China."

Visualizing China's skyscraper boom.
Feb 2019

Co-Host of the Ivy League Chinese Spring Festival Gala

Co-hosted in Chinese the 2019 Ivy League Spring Festival Gala (常春藤春晚) for ~1,000 attendees, organized by the Harvard Chinese Students & Scholars Association.

Jun 2018

Co-Host of the China Ivy League Global Freshman Convocation

Co-hosted in Chinese the first China Ivy League Global Freshman Convocation (美英18所学校2022届本科生全球迎新大会) organized at Peking University's Stanford Center.