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


Sié Center

Student Research Assistants

PhD Research Fellows

Dogus Aktan, Research Fellow
Dogus is from Istanbul, Turkey. He graduated from the Galatasaray University in Istanbul in 2013 with a degree in Political Science. He spent one year of his undergraduate in Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium with the Erasmus Exchange program. He recently graduated with a Master's degree in International Studies from the Josef Korbel School, where he continues to support the MEC project. In his first year at Korbel, he was a research assistant for Professor Joseph Szyliowicz. His research interests focus primarily on global governance and the role of non-state actors in the security realm. 

Jillian "JJ" Janflone, Research Fellow 
Jillian is originally from Washington, Pennsylvania. She holds a BA from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, where she majored in English and triple minored in Chinese Language and Culture, History, and International Relations. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, JJ spent several years working for the Hebei Institute of Tsinghua University, China, providing ESL teaching and curriculum writing, as well as overseeing international students' academic progress. JJ then completed an MA in International Studies at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. There she served as the graduate director of the Human Trafficking Center and focused on East-Asian response to human trafficking, blood-borne illnesses, and the stigma surrounding erotic service providers. Now a Phd candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, JJ continues to research and write on East Asia, exploitative labor and human trafficking, and the formation and performance of identity within stigma-affected populations.

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.

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.

Paul KempPaul Kemp, Research Fellow
Paul is a new PhD student and research fellow at the Sié Center, working for Dr. Erica Chenoweth on a project concerning external assistance to nonviolent movements. He is primarily interested in the relationship between money and violence, or more specifically, the coercive mechanisms by which state-issued currencies are disseminated and sustained. An avid aficionado of both music and nomadism, Paul spent the past few years as a professional touring drummer and intermittent hermit of the mountains. He holds degrees in Political Science from the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University.


maria lotitoMaria Lotito, Research Fellow
Maria is a PhD student at Korbel where she serves as co-project manager for the External Support for Nonviolent Campaigns project and as a pre-production editor for the Journal of Global Security Studies. Prior to joining Korbel, Maria worked as a civilian analyst for the US Department of Defense. She has also worked in international development in Mongolia and China. Maria obtained her MA in International Affairs from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a double major in International Affairs and Chinese.

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 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.


Christopher ShayChristopher Shay,  Research Fellow
Christopher Shay is a PhD student in International Studies at Korbel and a research fellow on the  NAVCO data project. His research interests focus on transitional justice and security sector reform, with special emphasis on human rights prosecutions and their effects on regime stability and state-on-citizen violence. Christopher also provides analysis on the Naxalite Conflict in east India for the International Institute of Strategic Studies' Armed Conflict Database. Christopher received a master's degree (with distinction) in peace and conflict studies from Uppsala University (Sweden), where he subsequently researched armed conflicts in South Asia for the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Prior to graduate school, Christopher worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a fire ecology research assistant and wildland firefighter, and withe the National Parks Service as a trail crew leader.

Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants

Kelci Burckhardt, Research Assistant
Originally from Alabama, Kelci graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2008 with a degree in global health policy and minor in chemistry. She spent eight years as an analyst in the federal government before beginning her master's degree in international studies at the Korbel School. Kelci's academic interests include conflict resolution, political psychology, institution building and development in post-conflict societies, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Joseph Digby, Research Assistant
Joseph is a Research Assistant with the Private Security Monitor project at the Sié Center. A graduate student pursuing an MA in International Security, his goal is to become an analyst for a government agency or a research think tank. At the Josef Korbel School he is exploring his interest in emerging forms of warfare and how to meet the challenges posed by them. He graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2016 with a BA in Political Science and Minors in Public Policy and Asian Studies. While at Case Western he spent a summer as a research intern at a policy think tank in Cleveland, Ohio, focusing mainly on tax and sustainability policies. Born in Toronto, Canada, he is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Summer Downs, Research Assistant
Summer Downs is an MA candidate in International Administration and a Colorado native. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Global Development Studies from Seattle Pacific University, complemented by numerous distinctions and awards. Summer has extensive experience working with NGOs in locations such as Ghana, Rwanda, northern Iraq, Greece, Guatemala, the Philippines, and Thailand. Her interests as an aspiring scholar-practitioner include complex emergencies, sexual violence, psychosocial trauma, health, and humanitarian assistance, with a regional focus on East Africa. She is currently working on becoming fluent in Swahili, and she also plans on earning a degree in International Disaster Psychology at DU. 

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 United States Army. Throughout her four years of service, Caroline completed multiple assignments with different units across the United States 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 desire to explore her interests in foreign policy and international security. Living in the Pacific Northwest for the past three years, Caroline is excited to continue climbing mountains, pursuing outdoor activities, and enjoying a lot more sunshine while living in Denver.

Colin Johnson, Research Assistant 
Colin is a graduate student pursuing an MA in Conflict Resolution. Born and raised in New Jersey, he graduated with honors from Marist College in New York where he received a BA in Public Relations with a minor in Psychology. Following his graduation, Colin moved to Shanghai, China and spent a year working as an English teacher. Returning to the United States, he accepted a position with a small non-profit that assists immigrants, refugees and asylees seeking to gain United States citizenship. In his role, he was responsible for coordinating a volunteer educator program helping individuals to prepare for the citizenship exam. In 2013 he began service with the Peace Corps in Thailand where he focused on education and providing student-centered training for local teachers. While there he met his wife and, after completing his service, spent two and a half years teaching Social Studies at a small international school in Bangkok. Colin is interested in studying interpersonal and community-based conflict resolution, the use of restorative justice as a vehicle for conflict resolution, and best practices for responsible and active allyship. In his free time, Colin is an endurance sports enthusiast having competed in several marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons, and open-water swimming races, and both he and his wife love to travel whenever possible.

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.

Kelsey Landstrom, Research Assistant
Kelsey Landstrom is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in International Human Rights degree with specializations in forced labor and human trafficking, research methods, and program monitoring and evaluation. Her focus is on participatory action research of child marriage (specifically in India) and the use of community-based development interventions. She hopes to work for an international research organization in order to help craft policy that will directly cause a positive, durable change for those studied. 

Nancy Li Research Assistant
Nancy is an RA with the Private Security Monitor Project at the Sie Center and is an MA candidate in the International Studies program at Korbel with a focus on Security and a regional concentration in Asia. Originally from North Carolina, Nancy spent most of her life living in Connecticut and lived for a short time in Singapore. She graduated from Boston University in 2016 with a degree in International Relations. Prior to attending Korbel, Nancy spent two summers working at the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China and one semester studying abroad and working in Geneva, Switzerland with a nonprofit environmental organization.

Jamison Nelson, Research Assistant
Jamison is a Colorado native. He is pursuing a MA in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration as well as a graduate certificate in Homeland Security from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He has an undergraduate degree in International Affairs with a concentration in Latin America from the University of Colorado, Boulder. At CU Boulder, he also completed a minor in Portuguese Language and Culture, and an Applied Business Certificate from the Leeds School of Business. Prior to graduate school, Jamison worked in telecoms as a Data Analyst for 9-1- 1 data management with Intrado in Longmont, Colorado. From 2007 to 2013, he served as a United States Marine. In 2009 he was deployed to Iraq, where he was awarded a certificate of commendation for his work as Company Clerk and Training Manager for an Infantry Battalion's Headquarters and Service Company. He spent the next three years working with the Department of State as a Marine Security Guard at the U.S. Consulate Rio De Janeiro, the Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic. Ever since his time with the State Department as a Marine, he has worked tirelessly to return to the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer.

In addition to his work at the University of Denver, Jamison works at Matsuhisa Denver, a Nobu owned sushi restaurant that aims to bring world-class cuisine to the Denver area. He is also currently the intern at the Denver Council on Foreign Relations. Jamison is an avid snow and water skier.

Nick Nusbeitel, Research Assistant 
Nick was born in San Diego, California. He is currently an MA candidate in the International Human Rights program at Korbel. He received a BA in Global Studies with concentrations in human rights, international law and gender from California State University San Marcos in 2017. His interests are in LGBT rights, social movements, and radicalization.

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.

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.

Tasia Poinsatte, Research Assistant
Tasia graduated summa cum laude from American University in 2013 with a dual degree in International Studies and Environmental Studies, along with minors in French and Economics. As an undergraduate, Tasia studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal, where she taught English at a public primary school. Following graduation, she worked in Ghana as the site manager of an education-focused nonprofit before moving to New York City, where she received a Conservation Corps Fellowship to work for the NYC Parks Department Office of Green Thumb as a school gardens coordinator. For the past year, she has worked as a financial editor in Valparaiso, Chile. When she was 19, Tasia founded a scholarship program serving students from rural communities in Nicaragua, which she continues to direct today. A Boulder native, she is excited to return to her roots in Colorado to pursue a MA in International Development. She loves painting, hiking, riding her bicycle, learning languages and organizing co-ed soccer matches wherever she might be in the world.

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 learnt 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.

Josh Satre, Research Assistant
Josh Satre received a BA with Honors in Political Science from Swarthmore College in 2013. During his time at Swarthmore, he interned for a microfinance organization and studied abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland, sparking an interest in conflict resolution. After graduation, Josh interned at Congressman Van Hollen's Office and worked as a legal secretary at the Distilled Spirits Council. He enjoys endurance sports and has completed two marathons, including the Right to Movement marathon in Bethlehem, which fused his interest in running with his interest in conflict resolution and human rights. An avid reader and researcher, Josh is particularly fascinated by stories and research describing the role of institutions in peacebuilding, development, and innovative public partnerships.

Noa Shapira, Research Assistant
Noa was born and raised in Israel. She served in the Israeli Defense Force for three years as a foreign affairs correspondent for the military radio and later worked for two more years as a journalist covering Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other conflicts around the world. She graduated summa cum laude from Tel Aviv University with a dual degree in Political Science and the Interdisciplinary Program in Humanities - Social Justice, Gender Studies and Judaism. Noa has a vast experience in human rights and conflict-related work, including with an Israeli-Palestinian initiative to resolve conflict, and as an intern with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Israel. Her experience led to an interest in the privatization of conflicts and the way it affects women rights in those conflicts, a subject she hopes to explore at the Korbel School, where she is pursuing a degree in international human rights. She loves baking, travelling, and open-water diving.

Olivia Storz,  Research Assistant
Olivia Storz is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and Spanish, with a minor in leadership studies. She is currently writing her honors thesis on social mobilizations against gender-based violence in Latin America. Her recent professional experiences include an internship in the Family Violence Unit of the Denver District Attorney's Office as well as an assistantship with the Foundation for the Investigation of Women in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Following her undergraduate degree, Olivia hopes to pursue a J.D./PhD dual degree program and specialize in the intersection of international law and gender-based violence.

Abbey Vogel, Research Assistant 
Abbey is an MA candidate in International Human Rights and is pursuing a certification in Global Health Affairs. Before entering the Josef Korbel School, she worked for nine months at The Center of Arts for Peace in Suchitoto, El Salvador, serving as a volunteer teacher and assistant for diverse arts programming in the department of Custcatlán, where she explored post-war peace-building through creative expression. Academically, she seeks to explore sustainable, rights-based approaches to intractable conflict resolution, which emphasize horizontal, local leadership and the mobilization of transnational advocacy networks. She attended John Carroll University from 2012-2015, and graduated with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights.

Ariel Zarate, Research Assistant

Ariel Zarate is a second year, MA/ M.S.W candidate. She received her B.S.W / BA in Psychology from Lewis University. Prior to returning to graduate school, she spent 27 months in South Sudan working on empowerment and educational programs for women and girls. She has additional experience working with youth development organizations in Bolivia and the Philippines.

Her primary areas of interest are trauma and resilience of communities that have experienced various levels of conflict. She does this both in the field with a regional focus spanning across Sub – Sharan Africa and domestically in the refugee/asylee resettlement and development field. Of particular interests to her are communal healing processes, how trauma manifests somatically in the body as well as how spaces of healing can serve as platforms for increased political and social engagement. She is interested in how different gender identities and members of marginalized communities operate within these spaces and applies a feminist analysis to these topics.

Tom Zolot, Research Assistant

Tom is an MA candidate in Conflict Resolution. Tom was born in rural California and attended University of California, Davis. He received his BA there in Linguistics graduating with honors. Following graduation, Tom served two terms with Americorps VISTA in New Orleans. His first term was with the English language night school, Oportunidades NOLA, and the second was with the Center for Restorative Approaches (CRA). He then worked for several years with CRA providing training and facilitation of restorative justice circles. While in New Orleans, Tom also pursued and volunteered with a variety of initiatives including community-police mediation, various gardening programs and working closely with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center, Arte Reviver NOLA.