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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy

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Student Research Assistants

PhD Research Fellows  

Chuck Aoki, Research Fellow
Chuck is a PhD student in International Studies at the Korbel School in Denver. He is currently working as a research fellow for Dr. Rachel Epstein on various ongoing projects. His research interests include civil-military relations and the way in which changes in military technology will affect these relationships, particularly with regards to drones and autonomous weapons. Alongside this, he is also interested in how advances in technology will change intrastate conflicts, particularly between militant groups and state actors. He is also interested in how development projects can be more inclusive of persons with disabilities. Prior to Korbel, Chuck received his master's degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota, with a graduate minor in program evaluation. He earned his bachelor's degree from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN in secondary education, where he was named the most outstanding graduate of his class. Chuck has also been a member of Team USA Wheelchair Rugby at the last two Paralympic Games, earning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympics, and a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, and is currently training for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, where he hopes to help bring home a gold medal.


Sooyeon KangSooyeon Kang, Research Fellow
Sooyeon is a PhD student in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School and a research fellow working on the Major Episodes of Contention data project at the Sié Center. She earned her MA in International Affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and double majored in Government and Psychology at Dartmouth College. Her recent professional experiences include developing content for a HarvardX/ Harvard Humanitarian Initiative course on "Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster," contingency planning for change in North Korea at the Joseon Institute, and assessing grant acquisition and management strategies for World Vision International. Her current research interests include unconventional warfare, state-building, and understanding the calculus behind violent and nonviolent resistance. Her extracurricular experiences include running the Boston Marathon (2012), scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, golfing and playing basketball with her husband and their friends.


Laura Siltanen Hosman, Research Fellow
Laura is a PhD student at the Korbel School in the fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics. She currently serves as a Production Editor for the Journal of Global Security Studies (JoGSS), and a Research Assistant overseeing and coordinating all data coding for Professor Tricia Olsen's Corporations and Human Rights Database (CHRD) Project. Prior she served as a Research Assistant coding data for Professor Erica Chenoweth's External Support NAVCO Database Project. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2008 with a BA in Political Science. She earned her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2013, where she served as Production Editor for the Journal of Islamic Law & Culture and a Research Assistant to Professor Uche Ewelukwa, S.J.D. Laura's current research interests focus on the intersection between global governance, business, and human rights; the impact of human rights prosecutions and transitional justice on democratization; and the likelihood of judicial defection under non-democracies. Prior to entering the PhD program, Laura worked for Legal Aid of Arkansas where she represented indigent clients in domestic violence cases. Laura currently lives in Denver with her dog Catherine and works as a volunteer debate coach with the Denver East High School speech and debate team. She enjoys running marathons and hiking.


Pauline Moore, Research Fellow 
Pauline Moore is a PhD candidate at the Korbel School in the fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics, as well as a research fellow on the MEC data project, and a Production Editor for the Journal of Global Security Studies. Her research seeks to understand the patterns of interaction between armed groups and civilians during civil war, and her dissertation examines the role of social embeddedness on conflict dynamics. Together with Erica Chenoweth, Pauline recently completed the book The Politics of Terror (Oxford University Press, 2018). She received her BA in International Studies from Middlebury College and an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Before the beginning her PhD program, Pauline consulted on the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in Africa and Latin America and worked at Conservation International's Carbon Fund.

Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants

Deema Almoayyed, Research Assistant
Originally from the Kingdom of Bahrain, Deema completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where she majored in Finance and Commercial Law. She then returned home and pursued a career in research and management consulting for several prominent governmental organizations. Through this work, she familiarized herself with local development programs targeting women, students, farmers, and other segments of Bahraini society, and took an interest in international development. In line with her passion for women's rights, she also held a volunteer position as a crisis advocate for Women's Crisis Care International, where she provided advocacy services for victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Bahrain. Deema has been granted the Fulbright scholarship to study at the Josef Korbel School, where she plans to pursue an MA in International Development and center her research on gender and development, with a primary focus on the Middle East.


Anushka Bose, Research Assistant 
Anushka is an MA candidate in International Security at Korbel, and she recently graduated from Purdue University, where she studied Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, along with minors in Sociology and Communication. During her time at Purdue, she interned at the Institute of Global Security and Defense Innovation, an interdisciplinary startup dedicated to promoting research and development in defense technology and capability in the United States. In addition to her coursework and relevant experience, Anushka cites her international upbringing as an instrumental force in driving her to the field of international security. Growing up as an Indian national and an expatriate and as a Third Culture Kid in Dhahran, a multicultural city in Saudi Arabia, Anushka was exposed to an arena of international affairs. She lived in Saudi Arabia during key events in history, such as the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, the rise of extremist groups, and the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This experience allowed her to have a new vantage point to understand international conflict, and inspired her to learn more about geopolitical challenges that arise from economic turmoil, political destabilization, and extremist ideologies. Anushka is also passionate about writing and has published articles on college and international newspapers, as well as on various blogs. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, photography, learning languages, and prioritizing health and fitness.


Guilia Bova, Research Assistant
Giulia is excited to join Korbel as an MA candidate in International Development with a certificate of Global Health Affairs. She was born in Italy and grew up outside of Chicago prior to moving to Montreal, Canada to complete her Bachelor's in International Development Studies at McGill University. After her undergraduate studies, she moved to Boston, where she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a literacy non-profit. She then taught World History and ELA at charter schools in Boston, while also completing a Master's in Teaching. Giulia is a recently returned Peace Corps Rwanda volunteer (2016-2018). During her Peace Corps service, she taught English to secondary students and worked on public health projects related to malaria and sexual and reproductive health. After her Peace Corps service, Giulia worked at Guild Education at a Student Success Advisor. She is also a co-founder of The Now Exchange, a women's health organization aimed at increasing access to reproductive health services and knowledge for women working in the Read-Made Garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh.


Phil Davis, Research Assistant
Phil is a graduate student pursuing an MA in International Security. He was born in Philadelphia and raised in Maryland. Phil received a BA in International Relations with a Minor in Diplomatic History from the University of Pennsylvania. During undergraduate, he spent a summer in London, England working at the United Kingdom Parliament. He also completed an International Relations thesis regarding the European Union's drug policy towards the Andean region of Latin America. After graduating from Penn, Phil worked for U.S. Congressman Don Beyer as a constituent liaison for 2 years. His portfolio included outreach responsibilities as well as resolving constituent issues involving Veterans Affairs, Military Affairs, Customs Border Protection, and Passports. Prior to coming to Korbel, Phil served as a Legislative Affairs Specialist for the FEMA Grant Programs Directorate. In addition to his role as Research Assistant, Phil works in the DU Office of Global Engagement, under the direction of Ambassador Christopher Hill (ret.). Phil enjoys all things music (especially The Weeknd), outdoor activities, travel, and brunch adventures.


Rachel Goodman, Research Assistant 
Rachel is an M.A. candidate in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School. Her primary research interests include migration and borders, politics of development, and political violence, with regional focuses in Latin America and South Asia. In 2017, she received a B.A. in International Studies, Political Science, and Spanish from the University of Idaho. She also spent one year during her undergraduate career studying Latin American culture and politics in Santiago, Chile. After graduating from the University of Idaho, Rachel worked in the Idaho State Senate, which sparked her interest in bridging the gap between academic research and public policy. She eventually plans to pursue a Ph.D. in political science. When Rachel isn't working or studying, she can usually be found rock-climbing or playing ukulele.


Bilen Gurara, Research Assistant 
Bilen is an MA candidate in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration. She is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Bilen holds degrees in Economics from Addis Ababa University. She was involved in various research projects when she was working at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute. Her academic research interests include political economy, development in sub-Saharan Africa, economic integration and socio-economic policies in developing countries. She enjoys taking long walks and reading in her spare time.


Caroline Holdren, Research Assistant
Originally from Ohio, Caroline attended the University of Michigan where she received a BA in Public Policy in 2014. Upon graduation, Caroline commissioned as a Military Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army. Throughout her four years of service, Caroline completed multiple assignments with different units across the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and participated in training exercises and deployments to Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan. Caroline is pursuing an MA in International Studies with a Certificate in Humanitarian Assistance. In her first year of graduate school, Caroline completed an internship focused on humanitarian diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Caroline recently received her Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, and she hopes to work in the field of international humanitarian operations after graduation.


Madison Hunke, Research Assistant
Madison Hunke is a Research Assistant with the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration project at the Sié Center with Dr. Kaplan. She is pursuing a Master of Arts in International Security with interest in International Humanitarian Law and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. Madison has experience working at an international non-profit focused on furthering cross-cultural exchange and hopes to pursue a career post-graduation at an international NGO working to strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights in conflict zones. Madison graduated from the University of Iowa in 2018 with a B.A. in Political Science and French (Arabic Track), with a certificate in Human Rights. 


Amber Hunt, Research Assistant
Amber was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Arizona with a BA in Political Science, Linguistics, and Eastern Asian Studies with a minor in Spanish. During her time at UA, Amber studied Japanese politics abroad in Tokyo for a semester, then taught English in Himeji, Japan as a participant in the Phoneix Sister Cities Teach Abroad program. At the Josef Korbel School, Amber will pursue an MA in International Security. 


Micaela Iveson, Research Assistant 
Prior to pursuing an MA in International Development from the Josef Korbel School, Micaela worked for the ONE Campaign in Washington, DC. At ONE, Micaela helped plan and execute advocacy campaigns that promoted the health, education and economic empowerment of women and girls throughout sub-Saharan Africa - work that took her everywhere from the sidelines of rock concerts to the floor of the UN General Assembly. She has also held fellowships with the Andrew Goodman Foundation and the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, which included policy research on engaging youth living in poverty with educational and professional opportunities. Micaela graduated with Summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of Idaho, earning a BA in International Studies. She was born and raised in Reno, Nevada and enjoys running, road-tripping and performing stand-up comedy.


Zachary Lien, Research Assistant
Born and raised in Idaho, Zach earned degrees in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Idaho in 2018. An avid researcher and reader, he has dedicated most of his research to the role of religion in human rights, revolution, and international relations. Specifically, Zach focused on the human rights violations perpetrated by apostasy and blasphemy laws as well as the consequences those laws inflict on the lives of apostates. Zach continued this research as a Mount Vernon Leadership Fellow at the Library of Congress, as a Rangel Scholar at Howard University, as an undergraduate student studying abroad in Israel, and as a presenter at the Wheatley Conference for Religion and World Affairs. At Korbel, he plans to continue studying the nexus of religion and human rights by pursuing an MA in International Studies with a certificate in Religion and International Affairs. Zach also enjoys movie marathons, pub trivia, and eSports.


Caitlin O'Brien, Research Assistant
Cait is an MA candidate in International Development. She is a recently returned Peace Corps Zambia VolunteerandTeach for America Alumni. While in Africa she focused on rural education development and sexual reproductive health for youth and HIV/AIDS vulnerable populations. Her projects included electrifying the village's school, hosting multiple HIV testing and education events in the village, as well as leading female youth empowerment camps and clubs. Cait is a competitive marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast.


Dana Parke, Research Assistant
Dana is an MA candidate in International Development, complemented by the Global Health Affairs Certificate. A native Michigander, she earned her Bachelor of Arts from Oakland University's Honors College with a triple major in International Relations, African Studies, and French. She also spent a semester at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal. Since 2013, Dana has been working at the Global Health Initiative at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. In her role as Capacity Development Coordinator, she leads GHI's medical education and training initiatives globally, including training Haitian medical students to conduct surveys on healthcare utilization in internally displaced communities in Haiti, leading an educational needs assessment of physicians in India, designing a nursing exchange program in Jamaica, exploring partnerships and the health landscape in Ethiopia and Ghana, organizing the Annual Global Health Symposium, and more. Her leadership in her career merited her one of Oakland University's 2017 "10 Within 10" Young Alumni Awards. She has over 10 publications in journals including the Journal of Developing Societies, Annals of Global Health, Malaria Journal, and European External Affairs Review. She plans to dedicate her career to strengthening African cities' capacities to provide equitable access to health.


Brittny Parsells-Johnson, Research Assistant
Brittny came to the Josef Korbel School to pursue a master's degree in International Human Rights and to explore her interests in transitional justice and conflict response. Brittny began her career in public diplomacy and international exchanges, first working at a university study abroad organization and then at the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She later moved to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, where she managed foreign assistance grants to promote and protect human rights abroad. Her portfolio included atrocity prevention, documentation, forensic anthropology, memorialization, and truth-telling initiatives. Brittny is interested in the different ways countries and communities address legacies of conflict and human rights abuses. She is looking forward to bolstering her previous work experience with theories and methods for becoming a stronger advocate for justice and accountability.


Sinduja Raja, Research Assistant
Sinduja Raja has a Master's in Development Studies from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. Through this five-year interdisciplinary engagement, she learned to wed her interests in gender, conflict and foreign policy. Her early foray into research began with field-training at Kabadiwalla Connect (a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development funded social enterprise) in the realm of recyclable waste management and this nascent interest in sustainability led to project with the Ministry of External Affairs (India) on Financing Sustainable Development Goals from an Indian perspective. Her independent research, however, is grounded in Conflict studies – she studied the legal and political grey areas constructed by the Indian Peacekeeping forces in the Sri Lankan Civil War for her MA thesis. At Josef Korbel, she intends to continue this regional emphasis on Asia and is keen on foregrounding individuals in conflict-areas in her research - studying the impact of their day-to-day experiences on macro policies on conflict resolution and exploring the role of gender in constructing conflict and peace.


Maria Rapisarda, Research Assistant 
Maria graduated magna cum laude from Butler University in 2018 with a dual degree in International Studies and History, as well as a minor in French. As an undergraduate, Maria studied abroad across South Africa and in Geneva, Switzerland, where she was able to conduct archival research regarding the International Committee of the Red Cross' involvement and neutrality in the World Wars. Currently, she is pursuing an MA in International Studies with concentrations in Policy Analysis and History. Her academic research interests include historical analysis of development, political economy, and both foreign & public policy. In her free time, Maria enjoys hiking with her dog, baking new treats, and gardening.


Daniel Rinner, Research Assistant
Originally from Overland Park, Kansas, Daniel is an MA student in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration. In 2019 he earned a bachelor's in economics and international studies with a minor in mathematics from the University of Denver. As an undergraduate, Daniel conducted research on human-wildlife conflict mitigation in Kenya and wrote his thesis on the implications of the 2008 financial crisis for U.S. immigrants' remittance. Additional experiences include work in peer education for gender-based violence prevention and an internship with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet's Denver office. Daniel eventually hopes to produce research that improves development policy through a career in academia.


Tad Unruh, Research Assistant
Tad Unruh is a Research Assistant with the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration project at the Sie Center with Dr. Kaplan. Tad is from Kansas City, Kansas and received a B.A. in Electronic Media Journalism and B.A. in Sociology from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in International Security with interests in China, Southeast Asia, and Cybersecurity. Tad has lived in 3 countries and visited 36. He lived in the United Kingdom working as an Intern for the Today Show. He also lived in Chongqing, China working for Sichuan International Studies University as an International Relations professor. Living for one year in Australia, he worked for Apple 6 months permitting work visa requirements and traveled throughout the country surfing. He is also currently working for the Bangkok Embassy as a Virtual Foreign Service intern at the U.S. State Department during the 2019-2020 year. 


Savannah Wallace, Research Assistant
Originally from rural Western New York, Savannah graduated from American University in 2016 with a BA in International Studies. As an undergraduate, she completed internships with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the U.S. Department of State's Office of International Religious Freedom, and Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26). She also studied abroad at Peking University in Beijing, China. Following graduation, she started working at the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Institute. Savannah primarily planned cultural events, created and implemented administrative policies, designed a communications plan, and coded qualitative data. She also learned more about the conduct of American diplomacy and hopes to join the U.S. Foreign Service. Savannah is pursuing an MA in International Studies at Korbel and enjoys reading, traveling, and graphic design.