Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar Dissertation Scholarships and Minerva-USIP peace and Security Dissertation Scholarships are awarded to outstanding doctoral students in U.S. universities. The fellowships support ten months of dissertation research and writing on topics addressing the sources, nature, prevention, and management of international conflict.

This year’s Peace Scholar cohort is composed of 20 Peace Scholars who are conducting their dissertation research across the globe. To learn more, read their biographies below.

Current Peace Scholars

Adya Apa Pomeshikov

Ayda Apa Pomeshikov (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
The Prophet was a Refugee too: Islamic Humanitarianism and Syrian Refugees’ Search for Belonging in Turkey
University of Washington, Near and Middle Eastern Studies
Ph.D. Candidate

Ayda holds a B.A. in Sociology from Boğaziçi University, Turkey and an M.A. in Transcultural Studies from University of Heidelberg, Germany. Her interest in cultural integration of refugees from Syria has started while doing fieldwork for her M.A. thesis. In 2015, she collected personal narratives and stories from refugees about their experiences during and after the Syrian uprising, who were very recently moved to Mersin, Turkey. Her interest in the future of refugee settlement in Turkey turned into a Ph.D. project that examines the phenomenon of faith-based humanitarianism in Turkey.

Ayda explores the conceptual deployments around the Islamic humanitarianism by analyzing practices of various local faith-based organizations in Gaziantep Province and aims to understand how they influence the reception, accommodation and integration of Syrian nationals in Southeastern Turkey. She is particularly interested in understanding the role of faith and faith-oriented humanitarian practices and narratives in everyday struggles of refugees in cultivating recognition and belonging.

Ayda’s preliminary dissertation research has been supported by the International Research and Study Fellowships funded by the Chester Fritz and Boeing International endowments and the Maurice and Lois Schwartz Fellowship.

Maria Arango

Maria Paulina Arango (USIP Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar)
The Role of Education in the Reintegration of Ex-combatants in Colombia
Florida State University, College of Education
Ph.D. Candidate

Maria Paulina Arango is a Ph.D. candidate in International and Multicultural Education at Florida State University (FSU), presently working on her dissertation, “The Role of Education in the Reintegration of Ex-combatants in Colombia,” supported by FSU’s College of Education. Maria holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and philosophy from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana-Colombia, and a master’s degree in International Affairs from FSU.

Her research examines how ex-combatants from illegal armed groups experience educational programs designed to facilitate their reintegration into society. Globally, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is considered a key means to prepare ex-combatants to participate in the labor market, assume new social roles, and gain community acceptance. However, little is known about whether ex-combatants find access to TVET useful. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews and six months of fieldwork, she addresses this gap, analyzing various meanings they attribute to education, how these meanings influence decision-making, and the role access to and participation in a TVET program plays in developing new social networks. This research responds to the growing need to better understand ex-combatants’ diverse perspectives as a way to improve reintegration programs.

Maria’s areas of interest include education for reconciliation and citizenship formation in post-conflict contexts. She has worked in governmental programs to prevent domestic violence and researched mental problems in the displaced population in Medellín, Colombia, taught philosophy, and served as a research assistant with the FSU Learning System Institute.

Vincent Bauer

Vincent Bauer (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Does Doctrine Matter? The Role of Discretion during Counterinsurgencies
Stanford University, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Vincent Bauer is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at Stanford University where his research focuses on civil war and political violence. He is passionate about supporting evidence-based policy making and identifying the most effective solutions for mitigating armed conflict.

His dissertation project, entitled “Does Doctrine Matter? The Role of Discretion during Counterinsurgencies,” studies how the U.S. Army implemented the comprehensive counterinsurgency doctrine in Afghanistan. This research draws on Bayesian hierarchical models, instrumental variables, and surveys of active-duty officers to demonstrate the causes and consequences of the tactical decisions made by military units in Afghanistan.

His previous projects studying the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State have been published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution and Foreign Affairs. Vincent has worked with a variety of organizations including the RAND Corporation, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism to bridge the gap between academic research and policy. He holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago and speaks Modern Standard and Levantine Arabic.

Polina Beliakova

Polina Beliakova (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Explaining Erosion of Civilian Control: A Policy-focused Theory
Tufts University, Fletcher School
Ph.D. Candidate

Polina Beliakova is a Ph.D. candidate in international relations at the Fletcher School and a Senior Ph.D. Research Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at Tufts University. Her research interests include civil-military relations, intrastate political violence, and democratic governance.

Polina’s current research project focuses on the intrastate conflicts in democracies and their effects on civilian control of the military. Polina relies both on a quantitative and qualitative methodology. Being proficient in Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, and English, she collects data through fieldwork, archival research, and the analysis of primary sources. Last spring, Polina conducted archival research and expert interviews in Moscow, Russia. Now, she is preparing for the fieldwork in Ukraine and Israel.

Before coming to Fletcher, Polina studied Diplomacy, Conflict Resolution, and Counterterrorism for her MA in Government at IDC Herzliya (Israel). While at IDC, she co-authored the article, “Say Terrorist, Think Insurgent: Labeling and Analyzing Contemporary Terrorist Actors,” published in Perspectives on Terrorism (2014). She also worked as a professional educator in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

In her free time, Polina enjoys birdwatching, hiking, practicing yoga, and Krav Maga. You can find more information about Polina’s research and teaching at and follow her on Twitter @Beliakova_P.

Jason Blessing

Jason Blessing (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Securing Cyberspace: Military Innovation and Cyber Force Structure
Syracuse University, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Jason Blessing is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Jason’s research examines the causes and consequences of strategic defense innovations for national cyber-security.

His dissertation investigates why and how states organize their militaries for cyber-defense; special emphasis is placed on the developments of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states. The project employs a multi-method approach that includes cross-national statistical analysis of a custom database and three case studies that draw on elite interviews: the evolution of the United States’ Cyber Command; the development of Estonia’s Cyber Command; and the creation of Germany’s Cyber and Information Domain Service. More broadly, Jason researches topics related to foreign and defense policy, asymmetric conflict, and political methodology.

His work has received funding from the Maxwell School for Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, the Moynihan Institute for Global Affairs, and the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT). From 2018-2019, Jason was a Junior Scholar with the Carnegie International Policy Scholars Consortium and Network (IPSCON) hosted by the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Prior to Syracuse, Jason worked in the financial services industry as a fraud prevention analyst where he mitigated corporate risks and losses through the analysis of technical compromise data and client behavioral patterns. Jason has previously received his M.A. in Political Science from Virginia Tech (2013) and his B.A. in Government from The College of William and Mary (2011).

Matthew Cebul

Matthew Cebul (USIP Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar)
Repression and Rebellion in the Shadow of Foreign Intervention
Yale University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Ph.D. Candidate

Matthew is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University and graduate of Haverford College. His research agenda lies at the intersection of international security and comparative politics, with a regional focus on the Middle East. Matthew’s dissertation and book project, “Repression and Rebellion in the Shadow of Foreign Intervention,” investigates two puzzling aspects of mass resistance to autocratic regimes: (1) why opposition mobilization sometimes persists despite extreme repression; and (2) why some resistance movements remain nonviolent, while others embrace armed rebellion.

Whereas existing scholarship attributes this variation to a number of domestic factors, Matthew analyzes how the possibility of international support conditions the opposition’s response to regime violence. Drawing on original interview and survey data from the 2011 Syrian Revolution, the project reveals a troubling relationship: while the expectation of foreign support can encourage nonviolent mobilization, emboldened movements are also more likely to experience excessive exposure to repression and are consequently at greater risk of violent radicalization.

As a USIP Peace Scholar and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan’s Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, Matthew will continue to develop his book manuscript, incorporating data from both contemporary and historical cases of resistance to autocracy. He will also advance a series of related projects, including research exploring how dissidents assess the likelihood of repression and the relationship between the severity of repression and U.S. support for democratizing movements.

Laura Collins

Laura Collins (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Guns and Prayers: Religious Organizations and Wartime Violence in Central African Republic
George Mason University, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Ph.D. Candidate

Laura Collins is a Ph.D. candidate at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, where her research focuses on internal armed conflict, religious and armed nonstate structures, and the dynamics of violence against civilians. Her dissertation, Guns and Prayers: Religious Organizations and Wartime Violence in Central African Republic, examines how religious organizations operate in war to shape the joint production of nonstate armed violence against civilians. To answer this question, she employs a comparative process tracing research design, leveraging evidence gathered largely sub-nationally throughout Central African Republic from in-depth interviews with Christian and Islamic religious figures, armed groups, and members of the civilian population for the purpose of a comparative analysis.

She has also conducted archival research in both Central African Republic and Aix-en-Province, France. Laura’s dissertation research has been supported by the Office of the Provost at George Mason University. She has published in the journal Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal where she is also an Editor. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked in the field of mass atrocity prevention and the responsibility to protect where she was involved in developing networks among civil servants and parliamentarians.

She holds a joint BA in French and International Relations from Aberdeen University, Scotland and a joint European MA in Human Rights and Genocide Studies from Kingston University, London. Laura is originally from Scotland.

Christina Cottiero

Christina Cottiero (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Staying Alive: The Strategic Use of Regional Integration Organizations by Vulnerable Political Leaders
University of California, San Diego, Department of Political Science 
Ph.D. Candidate

Christina is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science at the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on regional intergovernmental organizations and security cooperation in Africa. In her dissertation she develops a theory about the circumstances in which politically vulnerable state leaders are more likely to contribute toward regional club goods and to emphasize reciprocity with neighboring leaders. Christina applies this framework to study where and when African states contribute troops for peacekeeping and other security operations. To link domestic sources of political vulnerability with regional cooperation, she relies on qualitative data from interviews with West African political elites and regional organization staff in Nigeria, as well as quantitative cross-national tests.

Christina’s dissertation research and field work has been supported by the UCSD Sanford Lakoff Research Fellowship, Friends of the International Center, and International Institute. In addition to her dissertation, she researches how autocratic regional intergovernmental organizations help member state leaders in their attempts to stymie democratization. While at UCSD, Christina has instructed a self-designed course on International Law, served as an undergraduate research mentor, and worked as a research assistant and teaching assistant.

Before beginning her doctoral studies at UCSD, she graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University’s Honors Program with a BA in international affairs, a BS in economics and a concentration in international trade.

Travis Curtice

Travis Curtice (USIP-Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar)
The Autocrat's Dilemma: The Politics of Policing in Multiethnic Societies
Emory University, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Travis Curtice is a Ph.D. candidate at Emory University. Travis studies the use of police to repress people in authoritarian regimes and the effect of repression on people’s perceptions of the police and their willingness to cooperate with police. In his dissertation, “The Autocrat's Dilemma: The Politics of Policing in Multiethnic Societies,” Travis develops a theory of the ethnic politics of policing, explaining how ethnicity shapes the deployment of officers, which in turn affects why people cooperate with police. With several studies in Uganda, he shows the various ways repression by police impacts individuals' cooperation with police, affecting the provision of law and order and political dissent.

In his work, Travis uses a variety of methods including extensive fieldwork, survey experiments, a national experiment, statistical models, and interviews to take into account the sensitivity of the topic he studies as well as the demands of causal inference. His research has received support from the Institute of Developing Nations, the Carter Center, Emory University, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He has published in Conflict Management and Peace Studies and written for The Monkey Cage, Democracy in Africa, and Sojourners.

In addition to his research, Travis has worked as a data analyst for the Carter Center’s election observation missions in Kenya, Liberia, and Nepal. He has taught classes on comparative politics and international relations at Emory University, the University of Arkansas, and other institutions. Prior to graduate studies, Travis taught and worked internationally in Bosnia, Uganda, and India.

Sophia Dawkins

Sophia Dawkins (USIP-Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar)
Making Peace Safe for Civilians: Violence and Restraint During Elite Peace Negotiations
Yale University, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Sophia researches how peace processes shape political violence in civil wars, with a focus on South Sudan and the Horn of Africa. Her dissertation analyzes the conditions under which armed groups protect or target civilians during peace talks and asks what mediators can do to keep civilians safe. Sophia builds theory from a comparative analysis of civilian experiences across sixteen years of South Sudanese peace processes, drawing on regional archives, interviews with political elites and combatants, oral histories, and displacement, mortality and satellite data.

Sophia has been engaged with Sudan and South Sudan since 2010, when she deployed as a humanitarian worker in the contested Abyei Area. She then worked for four years in peace mediation and humanitarian negotiations with Conflict Dynamics International. Sophia has conducted projects for the World Peace Foundation, African Union, World Bank, Carnegie Corporation, U.S. Department of State and Mercy Corps.

Sophia’s writing on peace processes has appeared in diverse outlets, including the Washington Post, and won the International Studies Association’s 2018 Finkelstein Prize for best graduate student paper in international organization. The Diplomatic Courier named her to the 2013 list of 99 most influential foreign policy leaders under 33 years of age. Sophia holds a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and an M.A. in International Relations from The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

Ashley Fabrizio

Ashley Fabrizio (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Contingent Radicalization: Government Repression’s Differential Effect on Ethnonationalist Mobilization
Stanford University, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Ashley’s research has been supported by the American Political Science Association Centennial Center, the Stanford Vice Provost of Graduate Education, The Europe Center at the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Stanford Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies Program.

Prior to attending Stanford, Ashley was a researcher and project manager at the Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. A California native, she also participated in the California Executive Fellowship Program at the Center for California Studies. Ashley graduated from Harvard College with a BA degree in Government.

Lillian Frost

Lillian Frost (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Beyond Citizenship: Protracted Refugees and the State
George Washington University, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Lillian Frost is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at George Washington University, where her research focuses on issues in forced migration, citizenship, policy enforcement, gender, security, and Middle East politics. Focusing on cases in Jordan, her dissertation examines variations in the sets of rights and legal statuses host states offer to different protracted refugee groups over time, including divergences between the content of laws stipulating these rights and the implementation of these laws in practice.

This research compares Jordan’s laws toward different protracted refugee groups in content and practice from 1946–2018 by engaging over 800 files she collected from the U.S. and British National Archives as well as 180 semi-structured interviews she conducted in English, Modern Standard Arabic, and Levantine Arabic during 13 months of fieldwork in Jordan from 2016–19.

Her research has received support from the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Fulbright Program, Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Project on Middle East Political Science, Boston Consortium for Arab Region Studies, and Maastricht University’s Centre for Citizenship, Migration, and Development.

Previously, she worked for the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Social Protection unit, where she focused on projects in Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, and the Palestinian Territories. She received her M.P.P. and B.A. in Political and Social Thought and Foreign Affairs with high distinction from the University of Virginia.

Rob Grace

Rob Grace (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Understanding Humanitarian Access Obstruction
Brown University, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

He is a Senior Associate at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), where he has contributed to humanitarian negotiation workshops convened with humanitarian practitioners across the globe. Previously at HHI, he served as the lead researcher on a project focused on the practices of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding missions mandated to examine alleged violations of international law. The project culminated with the publication by Cambridge University Press of the HPCR Practitioner's Handbook on Monitoring, Reporting, and Fact-Finding.

He is also a researcher and affiliated fellow at the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies, based at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. In this role, he is leading a research effort that examines contemporary challenges of civil-military coordination in humanitarian response. His writing has been published by the Journal of Conflict & Security Law, World Health & Population, the European Society of International Law, Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection, the Foreign Policy Association, and Foreign Policy in Focus. He holds an MA in Politics from New York University and a BA from Vassar College.

Erum Haider

Erum A. Haider (USIP-Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar)
Disempowered: Citizenship and Service Delivery in a Global
Georgetown University, Department of Government
Ph.D. Candidate

I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, a city of over sixteen million people. My first job out of undergrad was as a news reporter in Karachi, I was immediately drawn to the seemingly endless iterations of power and patronage, or 'wasta', in a megacity.

My doctoral dissertation at Georgetown University focuses on the provision of electricity. It examines the evolving power structures in the urban developing world as the states delegate the provision of public goods – through formal or informal mechanisms – to private actors. I find that the relationship between citizens and the state changes when service delivery is privatized; in the case of weakly democratic contexts such as Pakistan, this can debilitate crucial participatory institutions such as voting, membership and trust.

I completed undergraduate studies at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan (BSc ‘07). My graduate training at the University of Chicago (MAPSS ‘09) and at Georgetown University have focused on comparative politics and political methods, I am interested in issues of local urban politics, energy and community resources, and race and identity.

My research has been funded by the International Growth Center at LSE, London, the American Institute for Pakistan Studies and Georgetown’s Graduate School Dissertation grants. When I am not doing fieldwork in Karachi, I enjoy hiking in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, and have completed treks to multiple high-altitude glaciers in the region. I hope to one day combine my interest in micro-politics and my love for being in the wilderness by working on community-led conservation and the politics of climate change.

Ramzy Mardini

Ramzy Mardini (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Rebel in Society: Social Networks and the Regeneration of the Islamic State
University of Chicago, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Ramzy Mardini is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Chicago, studying international relations and comparative politics. His dissertation examines the intersection of social networks and consolidation dynamics in civil wars. It utilizes field interviews, survey data, and archival documents to examine how the Islamic State used informants and collaborators within aggrieved communities in its expansion and consolidation of territory across Iraq and Syria.

The project has received support from the U.S. Department of Education, Smith Richardson Foundation, Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, Center for International Social Science Research, among others. Most recently, his fieldwork was supported as a Fulbright-Hays fellow in Jordan and Turkey.

Prior to returning to graduate school, Ramzy served in the White House within the Office of the National Security Advisor to the Vice President and in the Office of Iraq Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. He was also a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council; an adjunct scholar at the Beirut-based Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies; a research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War; a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation; and a research assistant at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan – Amman.

He is the editor of two books on insurgency in the Middle East and has written commentary for the New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, among others. Ramzy graduated summa cum laude with research distinction from Ohio State University and holds both a M.A. in political science and a M.A. from the Committee on International Relations from the University of Chicago. He was born in Dayton, Ohio.

Chris Price

Chris Price (USIP-Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar)
Legacies of Conflict: Group Identities and Ethnic Polarization after Civil War
Yale University, MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies
Ph.D. Candidate

Chris studies the dynamics and legacies of civil war violence. His dissertation examines variation in the depth of post-war ethnic polarization, using data gathered during ethnographic field research in Bosnia and Liberia. The United States Institute of Peace, the Japan Foundation, and Yale University’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies have supported his research.

Previously, Chris served with the Department of State and the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. He graduated with a BA degree in Political-Economy from Tulane University, and holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations.

Noah Rosen

Noah Rosen (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Seizing a Window of Opportunity: Converting a Peace Process into Local Peace
American University, School of International Service
Ph.D. Candidate

I am a PhD candidate at American University’s School of International Service. In 2013, I graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minneapolis with a B.A. in International Studies.

Broadly, I’m interested in the intersections of social movements and peace/conflict studies. The focus of my dissertation is on local resistance processes in the context of a national peace process: what kinds of new opportunities and threats does a peace process create for local social movements? How can movements advance their interests given this complex mix of opportunities and threats?

My research takes place in partnership with Afro-Colombian community councils in the Pacific region of Colombia. In addition to the USIP Peace Scholarship, I have received support for my research from the American University Doctoral Student Research Scholarship and the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research Scholarship. Professionally, my interests lie in understanding how to strengthen the capacity of movement organizations in violent contexts. Personally, I like music and being outside.

Megan Ryan

Megan Ryan (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
The Making of an Unlikely Movement: Privilege and Nationalism in a New Democracy
University of Michigan, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Megan is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan. She studies authoritarian state-building and nationalist mobilization in newly democratizing contexts. Her dissertation uses the critical case of Myanmar to answer the following question: why has an extreme Buddhist nationalist movement emerged since the transition to democracy despite no concrete threat to the political and cultural status of Buddhism?

She previously worked as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State on the Myanmar Desk and in the Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations. Prior to her government service, she was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia and received a master’s degree in Southeast Asian Studies.

Megan was not always focused on political science and peace research; in fact, she was a biology major at the University of Illinois planning to go into medicine. Her experiences studying abroad in Malaysia and volunteering on the Thai-Myanmar border, however, piqued her interest in conflict and ethnic politics, leading her down her current path.

Andres Uribe

Andres Uribe (USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar)
Armed Actors, Influence, and Participation in Violent Democracies
University of Chicago, Department of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate

Andres Uribe is a PhD student in Political Science at the University of Chicago. His research broadly focuses on democracy and governance in contexts of violent political contestation. In particular, his dissertation project examines the ways in which armed nonstate actors seek to influence the conduct and outcome of elections. Through quantitative and archival analysis of rebel, paramilitary, and criminal groups in Peru and Colombia, the dissertation argues that these actors draw on a mix of coercive endowments, proto-governance institutions, and alliances with mainstream political actors to shape political behavior.

Other projects examine processes of competitive state-building during civil war and rebel group-political party transitions. Andres’ research has been supported by the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts and the University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies.

He holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago and a BA in History from Harvard College. Before graduate school, he spent three years working in international capacity building at the Organization of American States in Washington, DC.

Maro Youssef

Maro Youssef (USIP-Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar)
Women’s Movements During Democratic Transitions: The Case of Tunisia
The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Sociology
Ph.D. Candidate

Maro Youssef is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, where she focuses on gender politics, social movements, and democratization in the Middle East and North Africa. Her dissertation examines Islamist and secular feminist women’s civic associations that emerged after the 2010-2011 Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, and their relationships with the government and foreign donors during the democratic transition. She draws on ethnographic methods, with a special focus on interviews and has conducted fieldwork in Tunisia and Washington D.C.

Maro’s research has been supported by the Kisco Spirit Foundation, the University of Texas at Austin’s Urban Ethnography Lab, Center for Women and Gender Study, the Robert Strauss Center for International Law and Security Studies, the Association for the Study of Religion, and P.E.O. International. She earned her Bachelor’s in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Master’s in Middle East Studies from the George Washington University.

She was a Thomas R. Pickering fellow with the U.S. Department of State from 2006 to 2014 and served in Washington D.C. and at U.S. Embassy Tunis and U.S. Embassy Ankara. Maro serves as a mentor to young women interested in politics, government, and academia. She wishes to see more women of color represented in politics and hopes to become a Congresswoman from California someday.