25 Years

Graduate Students

Abanu Steele, Vanessa

Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
Email Address: steel012@umn.edu
Country: USA

Abebe, Surafel

Theatre Arts and Dance
Email Address: abebe024@umn.edu
Country: Ethiopia

Surafel W. Abebe is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He obtained a degree in English Literature minoring in Political Science and International Relations. He also received his MA in Cultural Studies at Addis Ababa University where he served as a lecturer and assistant dean in Humanities.  Surafel attended two summer schools in BIARI at Brown University.  He is interested in critical global conversations in humanities. Particularly, he takes performance as a mode of thought and site of contestation to think through questions of circulation of power and subjectivities. Being a PhD student at the University of Minnesota in Theatre Historiography program, he  enquires into participation of drama and performance in the construction of nationhood and subjectivity in the 20th and 21st Century Ethiopia.

Adovor, Alexander

Email Address: alexander.adovor@gmail.com
Country: Ghana

I grew up in Accra, Ghana. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in 2009 from the University of Ghana, Legon, I worked in the department of Geography and Resource Development as a research assistant. I also had stints with the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) and the AYA center as a volunteer and program officer. I enrolled in the MPhil Environmental Science Program in 2010, also at the University of Ghana, Legon. But Moved to Minnesota in the Fall of 2011 for PhD in Geography. My research focuses on the challenges and state of Geographic Information Science (GIS) in developing countries with emphasis on Ghana. I am also interested in development issues in Africa and currently working on African state capacity and Chinese investments in Ghana.

Alarcon Espinoza, Giovann

Applied Economics
Email Address: alar0013@umn.edu
Country: Peru

Algaze-González, Alexandra

Spanish & Portuguese

Alexandra Algaze was born and raised in Puerto Rico where, as an undergraduate, her interest in cultural expression through written and spoken language led her to study Modern Languages at the University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras. She went on to pursue a Master’s degree in International Relations between Latin America and Europe from the University of Bologna. Her M.S. research focused on how the plantation served as the setting where societal roles and attitudes solidified the hierarchy and conventions that characterize the Caribbean. As a PhD student in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures, she hopes to expand her research on Caribbean literature and history by focusing on colonial and neocolonial sociocultural structures based on race and ethnicity. She is currently interested in the ethnographic repercussions of the production of sugar, molasses, rum, and coffee in the development of an imperial discourse imposed upon colonized identities in the Caribbean.

Anti, Sebastian

Applied Economics
Email Address: antix001@umn.edu

Sebastian is a student in the University of Minnesota’s PhD program in Applied Economics. He is interested in the rural poor in sub-Saharan Africa and how developments in various national policies, agricultural technologies, and markets affect their food security and welfare. Prior to arriving in Minnesota, Sebastian served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, and as an analyst for an NGO in Kenya. Originally from Pittsburgh, he earned his BA from Oberlin College and his MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Bargi, Drishadwati

Asian Languages and Literature
Email Address: bargi003@umn.edu
Country: India

Drishadwati is from Kolkata, India. She has done her M.Phil in Women's Studies from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She did her M.A and B. A in English Literature from the same university. Her M.Phil dissertation interrogated the creation of caste markers in  three canonical Bengali novels that were published in the decades close to India's Independence from the British rule in 1947. In her PhD, she wants to understand the relationship between caste as an identity and space as one of its major determinants through an analysis of the mythologies and chronicles of the city of Kolkata. She has also been actively writing for online portals, journals and magazines in which she has discussed and debated issues related to caste, gender, student politics, affirmative action, food politics etc. 

Bhattacharya, Sayan

Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies
Email Address: bhatt229@umn.edu
Country: India

Sayan Bhattacharya is a queer activist and journalist from West Bengal, India. He has completed an M.Phil in Women’s Studies from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. For his PhD, he would like to understand how transgender people are accessing citizenship across caste and class specificities in India and how these negotiations are disrupting and/or getting folded within normative frameworks of the nation state. Sayan volunteers for a number of groups in Bengal working on gender, sexuality and disability rights. Recently, he co-organised a 3 day Disability and Gender Rights workshop as a platform to explore the possibilities of alliance building between Bengal's transgender movements and disability movements. He has organised queer reading circles, film screenings and several meetings between the media and queer communities to address the sensationalist coverage of LGBTIQ movements in the media. 

Budhiraja, Kriti


Kriti is from New Delhi, India. She received her BA in Political Science from the University of Delhi and finished her Masters and M. Phil at the Center for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is interested in the political economy of urbanization in contemporary India.  Her M. Phil work explores this through a study of planned development in India. In her doctoral project, Kriti hopes to write an account of the contemporary history of Delhi, understood through the shifting contours of the state and its relationship with urbanization.

Chatterjee, Anindita

Email Address: chatt051@umn.edu
Country: India

Anindita Chatterjee hails from Delhi, India. After completing her Bachelor's degree in Law from Symbiosis Society's Law College, Pune, she spent two years working with a non-profit organization (Samavesh) on issues of elementary education in government schools in rural India. She then went on to complete her Master's degree in Development Studies from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi. She is currently pursuing a PhD in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society. her areas of interest include contemporary capitalism, labour geographies and the political economy of development. 

Chatterji, Devleena

Email Address: chatt087@umn.edu
Country: India

Devleena Chatterji is a resident of India. She holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. She was also selected from a pool of 3400 applications for a batch of 100 as a Young India Fellow, where she completed a post graduate diploma in Leadership and Liberal Studies with partial funding. Prior to joining University of Minnesota, she worked with the Admissions Team at Ashoka University, handling telephonic and personal interviews for post graduate students amongst other responsibilities. For her PhD, she would like to look at Education Policies in India and their intersection with cultural norms that vary from state to state in the country. She seeks to gain an insight into women’s education policies in India at the primary and secondary level and work towards creating a level playing ground for them at higher education. Though her interests are largely academic in nature, she is also a voracious reader and takes keen interest Indian Classical Music and Dance forms.

Chipindi, Ferdinand

Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
Email Address: chipi001@umn.edu
Country: Zambia

Ferdinand Mwaka Chipindi is from Lusaka, Zambia. His Bachelor of Arts with Education was awarded in June of 2006 and his Master of Education (Educational Administration) in August of 2009 from the University of Zambia. Ferdinand has since March 2009 worked as a Lecturer at the University of Zambia, teaching in its department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies. He currently seeks a PhD in Comparative and International Development Education from the University of Minnesota.

Cohen-Rencountre, Agléška

American Studies
Email Address: cohen514@umn.edu
Country: USA

Rebecca (Agléška ) Cohen-Rencountre graduated with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Native American Studies.  For their doctoral work, Agléška plans to study gender assimilation in Native American residential boarding schools.   This historical and ethnographic project will use a transnational and feminist studies framework for understanding the ways gender fluidity was made invisible in these institutions.

Coral, Deniz

Email Address: coral006@umn.edu
Country: Turkey

Deniz is from Eskisehir, Turkey. She received her BA degree in Economics from Bogazici University. Since she felt the desire to have a more critical and interdisciplinary approach to explore the boundaries of economics as a social science, she obtained her MA degree in Cultural Studies from Istanbul Bilgi University. She is interested in economic anthropology, political economy, and psychoanalysis. For her PhD, she aims to study Turkish financial markets to pursue the question of how financial imagination shapes the economic field, as well as how the machinery of financial markets is sustained by the actions of financial actors.

dos Santos Sao Bernardo, Ana Claudia

Spanish and Portuguese
Email Address: saobe001@umn.edu
Country: Brazil

Ana Claudia dos Santos São Bernardo received a BA in Languages and Literatures from the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Araraquara, Sao Paulo. She developed research analyzing the relation between fiction and history in lusophone literature. After graduating, she became a teacher whose goal was to help poor students, especially poor black females similar to herself, to escape poverty through education. In her doctoral studies she intends to focus her research on Brazilian views of black women in an attempt to understand how and why they are seen and treated as they are. She strongly believes it is possible to fight against the cycle of poverty and violence that exists for women in Brazil and she plans to promote change through contributing to the scholarship on race and ethnicity in Brazilian cultural production. She is currently a graduate student in Lusophone Literatures and Cultures at the University of Minnesota.

Fajardo Sotelo, Guillermo

Spanish and Global Studies
Email Address: fajar028@umn.edu
Country: Mexico

Guillermo Fajardo is a Mexican fiction writer and a PHD student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. After receiving a BA in Law from ITAM in Mexico he earned a MA in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a writer he has published three novels, one book of horror short stories and was included in an anthology of essays about TV series. His novel “The presidential speeches” won the second place in the contest organized by Editorial de Otro Tipo in 2016. He has published essays and articles on a wide arrange of topics such as the representation of serial killers on films and media, Latin American conquest and ethnocide and Latin American identity in the United States. His current work explores the representation of oil in Mexican literature. Other interests include: power and Literature; capitalism; globalization and post colonialism.           

Farrell, Jessica

Email Address: farre256@umn.edu
Country: USA

 Jess Farrell grew up in Marlborough, Massachusetts.  She left the northeast to attend Washington University in St. Louis where she received a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in anthropology and political science and minoring in history and writing.  After graduating, she spent nearly three years working for the Peace Corps, teaching in Azerbaijan and Liberia.  Returning from these experiences, she is currently perusing a PhD in African History focusing on Liberia in the 1800’s.

Fok, Beverly

Email Address: fokxx008@umn.edu
Country: Singapore

Beverly Fok is pursuing a PhD in sociocultural anthropology. Her interests are in the state, anthropologies of infrastructure and space, and cultural politics of nature. She received her BA in political science and economics from Vassar College.

Gardner, Tia

Gender, Woman and Sexuality Studies
Email Address: gardn423@umn.edu
Country: USA

Tia-Simone Gardner was born in Warren, Ohio but was raised from an infant in her mother's home state Alabama. Tia Graduated from the University of Alabama in Birmingham with a BA in Studio Art, going on to do her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus in interdisciplinary practices and time-based media. After spending a year completing a Studio Fellowhsip in Art with the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program she returned to Alabama to take a teaching position at her undergraduate University. It was there that she continued her creative practice and in collaboration with other artists and community members developed projects that allowed her to informally learn and pursue black feminist practices. Tia began working toward a Master's in Women's Studies in 2011 to bring together what seemed at the time very compartmentalized knowledge of diasporic blackness, the geo-politics of gender, and the Black women artists who have imagined and created meaning out of spaces and place. She is now a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Gender Women's and Sexuality Studies.

Gortler, Shai

Political Science
Email Address: gortl001@umn.edu
Country: Israel

Shai received his BA from Ben Gurion University in Israel and an MA in Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The topic of his Masters thesis is “Israeli Prison Policy and the Production of Palestinian Political Subjects”. As part of his research he conducted interviews with former Palestinian political prisoners, commissioners of the Israeli Prison Service and Ministers of Police. In his doctoral studies he is interested in investigating the ways in which power operates in carceral institutions. He plans to focus on the similarities and differences between different cases of political imprisonment and imprisonment on the basis of what the incarcerating state defines as “security offences”.

Hassan Wasarme, Amal

Email Address: wars0071@umn.edu

Amal received her bachelors across the street at Augsburg College in Political Science and Psychology.  At first, she wanted to study the effect war has on the psychology of those who have lived it but she moved on to add political science in order to understand how war happens and what could be done to prevent it. Now as a student doing my masters in International Development Amal is interested in the African continent and the effect war has on women and children, terrorism as well as understanding the reconstruction of a country after decades of war. Her interest in war comes from a history of living through civil war and being personally effected by it and she hope to learn more and understand more


Huselid, Kevin

Spanish and Portugese Studies
Email Address: huse0067@umn.edu
Country: USA

Kevin Huselid is from west central Minnesota and is pursuing a PhD in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures to research early modern humanist studies of trans-Atlantic literature. Kevin received a BA in Spanish Studies, a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Minnesota and worked as an R&D Process Engineer in food production for six years. Kevin’s research focuses on literary genealogies of intersectional gender, race and class with the objective of situating human rights in the context of gender violence and social constructions of knowledge. 


Ikizoglu, Asli

Email Address: ikizo001@umn.edu
Country: Turkey

Asli Ikizoglu comes from Istanbul, Turkey. She has a BA in Social and Political Sciences from Sabanci University, Turkey and an MA in Sociology from University of Essex, UK. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Geography department at the University of Minnesota. Her interests are in global asylum governance and its expanding/emerging spaces (as well as temporalities) with a focus on transit countries and cities. For her dissertation, she is working with asylum-seekers and refugees in Turkey who are subject to mandatory residence in government-selected cities while waiting to be resettled in a third country. She examines factors that impact survival in transit cities and explores questions such as how transit cities respond to global networks of asylum governance, and how asylum-seeking bodies are accordingly disciplined or resist such disciplining. 

Iyengar, Siddharth

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
Email Address: iyeng029@umn.edu
Country: India

Siddharth Bharath Iyengar comes to UMN from Bangalore, India. He did a BS and MS at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Pune, India, with a major in Biology and a minor in Mathematics. He is interested in understanding the ecology (structure and function) of plant communities, especially in multi-use landscapes of the developing world. Through the ICGC, he hopes to learn more of how human cultures dialogue with nature, how human perceptions of nature affect resource use and sustainability. In India, he has volunteered extensively with movements for good governance, and promoting classical arts, culture and heritage. Field time spent in villages of Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh have given him a passion to work on issues related to conservation, sustainability and livelihoods in the long run.

Jatusripitak, Napat

Applied Economics
Email Address: jatus001@umn.edu
Country: Thailand

Napat Jatusripitak is seeking a PhD in applied economics at the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, he was a research assistant working with Joseph E. Aldy and Joshua Goodman on projects in the fields of environmental economics and the economics of education at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. His research interests broadly include the impact evaluations of programs that affect human capital accumulation through education, innovation, and health policies. Napat holds a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

Ji, Seung-Gyeong

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
Email Address: jixxx228@umn.edu
Country: Seoul, South Korea

Seung-Gyeong Ji comes from Seoul, South Korea. During her undergraduate work at HUFS, she involved in student's political activism and women’s right activism in/out of campus. She led volunteer activities at Korea Sexual Violence Relief Centre. At Ewha Womans University, she produced research on the abortion experiences and on the reflectivity of qualitative research work. She also worked as an intern at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development at Geneva, Switzerland. Her current research interests lie in post colonial approaches in development studies, sexuality and social justice in post-colonial societies.

Jimenez, Anthony

Email Address: jimen033@umn.edu
Country: USA

Anthony Jimenez is from El Paso, Texas. He received his BA and MA from The University of Texas at El Paso. In his master’s thesis, Anthony examined the consequences of the United States’ neoliberal development model for a local Latina-led NGO working toward community empowerment along the axes of race, class, gender and citizenship. Currently seeking his PhD in Sociology at the University of Minnesota, Anthony is interested in the effects of the Affordable Health Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) for undocumented immigrant groups residing along the U.S.-Mexico border, with particular attention to discourses revolving around citizenship, the racialization of migrant bodies and expanding illegality regimes.

Kollu, Sravanthi

Asian Languages and Literatures
Email Address: kollu005@umn.edu
Country: India

Sravanthi is a life long resident of India.  She earned her BA and first MA in Bangalore.    Her Mphil in Cultural studies is from The English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderbad.  Throughout her studies Sravanthi has been interested in gender, class, caste in critique of and in the forming of engaged political practice. During her Mphil she researched the women’s movement in Andhra Pradesh.   For her PhD, she intends to continue to work on the women’s movement in AP to explore the relationship between the movement, the literature that was produced around the movement and contemporary India.

Kumar, Snigdha

Email Address: kumar238@umn.edu
Country: India

Snigdha is from New Delhi, India. She has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Economics

from the National University of Singapore and the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland

respectively. For her Master’s thesis, she explored the impact of structural adjustment

policies on urban poverty in India. A desire to better understand the dynamics of urbanization

and its relationship with capitalism led her to enrol in the MPhil degree in Sociology at the

University of Delhi, India. Her recently submitted MPhil thesis examined the informalized

structure of the labour market in India and its implications for the nature of capitalism more

generally. In the PhD, she hopes to tie her interest in capitalism, urbanization and labour

together to make sense of the role of informal labour in shaping and sustaining the

aspirational and exclusionary world-class city of the global south.

Lazzarini, Alicia

Email Address: lazza008@umn.edu
Country: USA

Alicia is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society.  She received a dual Bachelors degree in Feminist Studies and English Literature at the University of Washington and a Masters degree in Geography at the University of Minnesota.  Alicia engages geographical and feminist political economic scholarship, Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) historical and postcolonial African studies, and critical race, labor, and gender studies in Southern Africa.  Her dissertation interrogates reinvestment, land and labor transformations, and racialized and gendered productions of postcolonial place in Mozambique. Alicia received a 2013-2014 Fulbright Fellowship and a 2016 Community of Scholars Program Residential Fellowship for dissertation writing at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Study.  Her research has been recently published in the Journal of Southern African Studies.

Lee, Ju-Young

Email Address: leex3464@umn.edu
Country: Republic of Korea

Ms. Lee graduated from Yonsei University in South Korea where she earned a BA and and MA in Sociology.  Generally speaking she is interested in women’s global mobility, more specifically women within Asia.  Even though her past education is in Sociology, she has trained and researched with cultural anthropologists who placed a great deal of importance on the anthropological disciplines, especially cultural politics and rigorous field work.   With it’s emphasis on critical cultural theory with a feminist perspective, the graduate program in sociocultural anthropology at the UofM will help her develop theoretical and methodological grounds for her research in women’s marriage migration within Asia.

Leon, Mauricio

Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy
Email Address: leonx075@umn.edu

Mauricio Leon, originally from San José, Costa Rica, is currently pursuing a MSc degree in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. After concluding the International Baccalaureate program at the United World College of Costa Rica, in 2011, he moved to Waverly, Iowa, where he obtained his BA degree majoring in Environmental Sciences and Biology at Wartburg College. As an undergraduate Mauricio participated in several academic and leadership experiences, including ecological research collaborations with the Department of Natural Resources, the US Forestry Service and the University of Northern Iowa. His interests include Global Warming prevention and mitigation, as well as a more sustainable growth in developing nations like his. He hopes to gain experience and resources to bring back to his home country, a nation that is often portrayed as “environmentally friendly” but that has many social, political and environmental challenges to face.

Little, John


John Little is from Winner, South Dakota.  He is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  He received his BA in history from South Dakota State University in 2011 and his MA in history from the University of South Dakota in 2014.  During and after college, he has worked at multiple jobs that served Native youth throughout Great Plains area.  These included multiple Boys & Girls Clubs and the Indian University of North America.  His master thesis titled, Between Cultures: Sioux Warriors and the Vietnam War, focused on South and North Dakota Sioux Vietnam veterans and their service.  A portion of this thesis will be published in the Great Plains Quarterly in the Fall of 2015.  He hopes to continue this project for his dissertation research at the University of Minnesota PhD history program.  Additionally, his focus is on twentieth century Native Studies, nineteenth and twentieth century American history, and Indian Law.

Lodge, Meryl

Email Address: lodg0022@umn.edu
Country: USA
Meryl Lauer Lodge is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of Minnesota and a Mellon fellow at Minnesota’s Interdisciplinary Center for the study of Global Change. She has held research fellowships at University of Western Cape and the University of Witwatersrand. Her dissertation, “Performances of Privilege: The Practice of Politics in South African Ballet," is based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork with South Africa's professional ballet communities. Meryl holds a B.A. in dance from Barnard College.

Lyimo, Francis

Email Address: lyimo002@umn.edu
Country: Republic of Tanzania

Francis Lyimo hails from Dar es Saleem, United Republic of Tanzania. His undergraduate work was done at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in Sociology. He then received an MA in Sociology from the same university. His graduate school research agenda in the areas of political and environmental sociology centers on understanding land and natural resource disputes in sub-Saharan Africa. He is especially interested in the involvement of multinational corporations (and states) in the processes that give rise to these disputes. He is currently seeking a PhD in Sociology at the University of Minnesota.

Lynch, Damon

Email Address: damonlynch@gmail.com
Country: New Zealand

Damon Lynch is from Wellington, New Zealand. His undergraduate work was done at Victoria University of Wellington and the University of California at Berkeley. After graduating with a BSc in Computer Science, he worked with nongovernment organizations in Asia in biodiversity conservation, agrarian reform and sustainable development policy. He has photographed professionally and has also developed a free software project that is included in the world’s leading Linux desktop distributions. He has an MA in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. He is currently seeking a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, focusing on time frameworks and peacebuilding after civil war in Tajikistan.

Malauene, Denise

Email Address: malau002@umn.edu
Country: Mozambique

Denise Maria Malauene comes from Maputo City in Mozambique. Her undergraduate work was done at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique where she obtained a BA Honors in History followed by a MA in Forced Migration at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg - South Africa. Her research focused on the migration of Congolese communities to Mozambique.  She teaches History of Africa and History of Mozambique at Eduardo Mondlane University and has been engaging in research activities in social history, international migration, refugees’ issues, higher education and gender issues. She is currently seeking a PhD Program in History of Africa.

McFadden, Keavy

Geography, Environment, and Society
Email Address: mcfad074@umn.edu

A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Keavy comes to Minneapolis from Chicago. Keavy graduated from DePaul University with a BA in International Studies and Economics with a focus on international political economy and critical development studies. Informed by research in El Salvador's garment industry and anti-sweatshop activism, she is interested in the intersections of gender, sexuality, labor, and neoliberalism in Central America. Keavy is continuing her studies in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Society and is examining the economic dimensions of peace in the aftermath of authoritarianism in El Salvador. She is also interested in critical cartography and GIS.

Mendoza, Alex

American Studies
Email Address: mend0121@umn.edu
Country: USA

Ms. Mendoza was an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she earned an honors B.A. in Community Studies and Sociology.  In the course of her studies and internships she was engaged in a considerable amount of public service and advocacy for young Chicana women, and especially teen-age mothers.  She began her research interest in an internship and senior honors project on the relationship between pregnancy and the culture of violence that normalizes abusive behavior toward women.  Ms. Mendoza intends to continue her study of the intersection of race, culture, education, class and gender performance related to sexuality and violence, to gain a finer and more nuanced analysis of teenage pregnancy.  Her intention on completing doctoral work is to continue research, service and advocacy through teaching.

Miller, Ai

Email Address: mill7176@umn.edu
Country: USA

Ai Miller is from Toledo, Ohio, and did hir BA at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. A non-binary-identified transgender person, Ai has worked closely with a number of transgender youth to help them navigate institutional barriers to having their identities fully recognized in higher education. Hir research examines the history of transition for transgender people in the United States in the 20th century, with particular focus on the agency and resilience of individuals pursuing transitional healthcare, as well as legal and institutional policies relating to transition. Zie hopes to expand this research in the PhD program in History.

Mpofu, Ntombizodwa

Email Address: mpofu003@umn.edu
Country: Zimbabwe

Born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Ntombizodwa Mpofu relocated to South Africa in 2012. Ntombi has a B A in Environmental Studies from Africa University Zimbabwe, a BA in History from Wits University and recently completed an MA in History from Wits University. By marrying Environmental studies and History she found great interest in the environmental issues in Southern Africa with a special interest in the issues surrounding water scarcity and distribution. Her MA research focused on the relationship between coal and water in the Mokolo River Catchment in Limpopo. From her MA research, Ntombi has found interest in the history of Eskom particularly issues surrounding Eskom and water use in the last century.

Munhazim, Ahmad Qais

Political Science
Email Address: munha009@umn.edu
Country: Afghanistan

Ahmad Qais Munhazim is an international student from Afghanistan. After receiving his BA in Political Science and Global Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2012, Qais decided to pursue his PhD in Political Science at the U of M. His research interests include international security, Political Islam, Political Violence, suicide bombing and terrorism. He is particularly interested in studying the rise of terrorism in the aftermath of the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Prior to receiving a scholarship to study at the University of Minnesota, Qais worked for the United Nations in Kabul Afghanistan.

Musaifer, Sara

Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
Email Address: musai001@umn.edu

Sara Musaifer is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Comparative and International Development Education and a graduate student fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. As a Fulbright Scholar, she received a masters of arts degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota. She also holds a bachelors of arts degree in political science from the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan. Her professional experiences are transcultural and transnational, and include policy research, cross-sectors engagement, community outreach, capacity building, reconciliation, restorative practices and international development. Her current research interests lie in the field of education and its intersection with political socialization, labor market organization and peacebuilding in the Middle East. In her doctoral studies, she plans to focus on examining non-formal education environments, particularly as they relate to youth empowerment and its role in supporting sustainable reconciliation in the region.  

Narayan, Devika

Email Address: naray116@umn.edu
Country: India

Devika received her BA from St. Xavier’s college, Mumbai and her M.A and M.Phil from the University of Delhi, in Sociology. Broadly, her commitment to sociology emanates from a desire to understand and conceptualize the social relations of power. She is interested in debates on political economy and contemporary capitalism. Devika's doctoral research, in the context of contemporary urban change, will examine the shifting relationship between private capital, service provision and governance in India.

Nguyen, Oanh

Political Science
Email Address: nguy2465@umn.edu
Country: USA

Oanh Nguyen is from Portland, Oregon. Her undergraduate work was done at the University of Oregon. After graduating with a BA in Philosophy and Political Science, she moved to Bangkok, Thailand. There, working in both the urban setting and in an immigration detention center, she provided legal representation to urban refugees seeking international protection via the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She is currently seeking a PhD in Political Science at the University of Minnesota with a particular focus on human rights in Southeast Asia.  Her interests include: rule of law, migration, and labor.   

Nkwenge, June

Master of Development Practice
Email Address: nkwen004@umn.edu

June S. Nkwenge hails from Wakiso district in Uganda. She has worked as Operations Manager of Smart Oils and Smart Farm since November 2011 and August 2012 respectively. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in May 2012, and has most recently completed a Business and Entrepreneurship Institute at Northwestern University as a Mandela Washington Fellow. She is looking to pursue a Masters in Development Practice from the University of Minnesota, and is most keen to learn about Human Rights, social justice and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nunez, Joanna

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
Email Address: nunez081@umn.edu
Country: USA

Joanna Núñez is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrant parents and is a first generation graduate student. She is from San Jose, California. She received her undergraduate degrees at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada as a double major in Women’s Studies and Social Work.  Joanna’s decision to pursue a PhD has been fundamentally influenced by her involvement as a community organizer in the struggle for im/migrant, women, and queer rights.  She is currently seeking a PhD in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota.  Her research interests are in  U.S. women of color and third world women’s feminism, Chicana/os in the educational pipeline, critical race theory, jotería and queer of color theories, decolonization and education, Chicana feminist epistemologies and pedagogies, organic and indigenous knowledge, and oral histories and testimonies.

Obando, Mario

American Studies
Email Address: oband004@umn.edu
Country: USA

Born in San José, Costa Rica, Obando is an immigrant and first generation college student.  He grew up in Los Angeles, where he worked as a tutor and mentor within communities of color.  He is committed to making sure students from marginalized communities have access to higher education.  Mr. Obando is developing a program to introduce low income high school students to academic research in order to prepare them to lead research projects in their communities.  For his doctoral work, Mr. Obando plans to explore how Costa Rican nationalism and identity is shaped by migration to the US and in turn shapes Costa Rican discourses and policies toward immigrants in their homeland.

Pacas, José

Applied Economics
Email Address: pacas002@umn.edu
Country: USA

US-born Salvadoran.  Although he was born in California, he spent several years of his youth living in various Latin American countries.  He received his BA in Political Science from Williams College and recently an MA from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  His goal is to earn a PhD in Applied Economics with a focus in policy analysis and development economics.  He wants to explore and quantify racial dynamics across different international settings while teaching at the University level and being a role model for other minority students considering Phds in Economics.

Payne, Gabriale

Email Address: payne199@umn.edu
Country: USA

Gabriale Payne was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She obtained her BA in History with a minor in Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2007 where she discovered her passion for interdisciplinary research while researching and writing her Honors Thesis, which explored the historical relationship between the changing meaning(s) of female genital cutting and women’s grassroots movements among the Gikuyu in colonial Kenya. After taking a brief hiatus from her academic work, inspired by her lingering passion and commitment to interdisciplinary research, she returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota in 2011 and is now working to complete her PhD in African History. Her current research examines changing sex/gender systems in Kenya from the 19th to the 20th century with a particular emphasis on exploring the ways in which Gikuyu notions of manhood and masculinity have been (re)constructed alongside and/or in interaction with notions of womanhood and femininity. She also has a strong commitment to investigating and illuminating the ways in which a Eurocentric gaze – a characteristic feature of the production of knowledge on or about Gikuyu cultural practices, gender norms, and sexuality throughout the colonial period – continues to structure what is and what can be said about the historical (re)construction of Gikuyu culture and society.

Perez, Bernadette

Email Address: perez269@umn.edu
Country: USA

Bernadette Jeanne Pérez grew up in Boulder, Colorado. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Colorado, Boulder. After receiving her BA in International Affairs, she worked for several years in women's clinics in the Denver-metro area. Some time later, she returned to school to complete a Master's degree in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she investigated the relationship between exclusionary immigration politics, Mexican migration, and the development of Euro American agribusiness in Colorado. After finishing her Master's work, she spent several years in San Francisco working in HIV prevention research and community-based health clinics. She is currently seeking a PhD in U.S. history at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation examines the entanglement of settler colonialism, agrarian capitalism, and the politics of belonging in twentieth century Colorado, through a social and environmental history of the sugar beet industry.

Pha, Kong

American Studies
Email Address: phaxx010@umn.edu
Country: USA

Kong was born in the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand and then migrated to the United States with his family.  He received his BA from the University of Minnesota with minors in Asian American Studies, History, and Sociology. He has an intellectual passion for interdisciplinary Asian American Studies.  He is especially interested in analyzing members of the Hmong community who might be generally understood as part of the LGBTQ community.  Virtually no scholarship on Hmong American LGBTQ people and themes has been published. Kong hopes to be a trailblazer in this area.  His goal is to become a professor and activist-scholar conducting research and teaching courses on the impacts of and how to eradicate racial and queer inequality in America.

Pham, Quynh

Political Science
Email Address: qupham@umn.edu
Country: Vietnam

Quỳnh N. Phạm is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation examines the mutually constitutive relationship between subaltern power and world order, and situates “local” struggles of peasant subalterns within a global politics of worlding. She is co-editor with Robbie Shilliam of Meanings of Bandung: Postcolonial Orders and Decolonial Visions (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016). Some of her other publications include Quỳnh N. Phạm, “Enduring Bonds: Politics and Life Outside Freedom as Autonomy,” Alternatives 38:1 (2013); Quỳnh N. Phạm and María José Méndez, “Decolonial Designs: José Martí, Hồ Chí Minh, and Global Entanglements,” Alternatives 40:2 (2015); Quỳnh N. Phạm and Himadeep Muppidi, “Colonial Wars, Postcolonial Specters: The Anxiety of Domination” in Tarak Barkawi and Keith Stanski, eds., Orientalism and War (Columbia University Press, 2012).


Poindexter, Sami

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
Email Address: poin0009@umn.edu
Country: USA

Danielle's undergraduate focus was on feminist theory and peace studies at the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at University of Redlands.  She received an MA in Applied Women's Studies from Claremont Graduate University.  Danielle's interest include;  gender and sexuality studies, peace studies, the politics of AIDS/HIV, international and global studies, the politics of NGOs in the global south.  Contributing to the building of a more equitable world is Danielle’s ultimate goal and she plans to achieve this through Feminist Studies.

Portales, Cristy

Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
Email Address: porta020@umn.edu
Country: USA

Cristy Portales was born and raised in Mexico’s central plateau, in the state of Guanajuato. She holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.S. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Texas at Austin, and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. She is interested in understanding how anthropogenic perturbations affect the functioning of ecosystems and the services they provide to society. Her current work explores the potential impacts of long-term nitrogen inputs in the maintenance of plant and microbial diversity, as well as its implications for sustainable agriculture.

Rebolleda-Gómez, Maria

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
Email Address: rebol004@umn.edu
Country: Mexico

Maria Rebolleda-Gomez did her undergraduate studies at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). She graduating with a BS in Biology and has always been interested in philosophy of science and the intersections between biology and society. She is now working on a PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. Currently she is interested in our notions of biological individuality and the ways in which these notions shape scientific practices.

Sajjanhar, Anuradha


Anuradha has a Masters degree in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, and a Bachelors degree in English Literature from the University of York, UK. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, she worked on issues of resource management (food security and water 'rights') and healthcare policy with the Brookings Institution in New Delhi. Having grown up in several different countries, she is primarily occupied with understanding axes of power and difference. As part of her doctoral work, she hopes to explore the political economy of water distribution in conjunction with a growing agrarian crisis and changing imaginings of modernity in India.


Santella, Julie

Geography, Environment, and Society
Email Address: sante076@umn.edu

Originally from South Dakota, Julie Santella earned her BA in political science and Spanish from Northwestern University. Research assistance on a project exploring religion and politics in African democracies kept Julie tied into Northwestern's Department of Political Science beyond graduation and extended her research interests from Latin America to Africa through fieldwork in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. This experience fed into a 2014-15 Fulbright Student grant, in which Julie explored the work of the Interfaith Standing Committee on Economic Justice and the Integrity of Creation, an inter-religious coalition engaged in social and economic justice advocacy around Tanzania's dynamic extractive sector. Julie continues to pursue her interests in identity and the politics of resource contestation in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Tanzania, through her PhD studies in Minnesota's Department of Geography, Environment and Society.

Santosa, Lisa

Geography, Environment, and Society
Email Address: santo261@umn.edu
Country: USA

Lisa is a native of the Washington DC Metro area but has also lived in the Southern US and Japan. She obtained her undergraduate degree at Boston University in 2009 in the Bachelor of Fine Arts where she studied Studio Arts and Philosophy. Deciding to switch career and disciplinary tracks, Lisa went on to gain a Master of Arts in International Commerce and Policy at George Mason University in Arlington, VA and also participated in a summer course abroad in South Africa. The decision to change disciplinary approaches was informed by wanting to take a more activist approach to issues of race, gender, and global inequality. Becoming critically aware of the institutional processes involved with global financial flows and the developing world, Lisa seeks to critique these processes through her doctoral research in South Africa where she will investigate race, commercial agriculture, and the police state in relation to land restitution post-apartheid.

Seda, Abraham

Email Address: sedax006@umn.edu

My name is Abraham Seda, I am from Zimbabwe. I did my undergraduate degree and Masters degrees in African History at the University of Zimbabwe. My research interests are in migration studies, ethnicity, belonging and sport in Africa. I have worked with Pindula as an editor. Pindula is a publicly editable source which creates brief biographies for prominent people in Zimbabwe like politicians, sports people etc.

Serour, Amgad

French and Italian
Email Address: serou001@umn.edu
Country: Egypt

Amgad was raised in Egypt. He received a BA in French from Cairo University and an MA, again in French, from the University of Western Ontario.  He has worked as an archival researcher, gathering information on the French speaking press in Egypt, as part of a joint venture between Egypt and France under the aegis of the CNSR of France (the National Center for Scientific Study). In his MA work he looked at the role of different media – novels, movies and graphic novels – in defining the relationship between memory and space.  In his doctoral work he intends to expand his investigation of various media to include virtual social media.  He will investigate how social media forces the rethinking of spatial and historical divides, as well as rethinking the relationship of identity to geography.  He wants to analyze the network-based dialog around the geopolitical, social and economic division of the global north and global south.

Sikenyi, Maurice

Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development
Email Address: siken001@umn.edu
Country: Kenya

Maurice Sikenyi is from Bungoma, Kenya. He holds a Master’s degree in international peace studies from the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame, in Indian, USA, and a B. Ed., First Class Honors in Education, Linguistics and Literature, from the University of Nairobi. He taught English and Literature in Kenyan Secondary schools and worked to promote peace education and democratic voting behavior. He proceeded to teach Swahili language and culture at Syracuse University as a Fulbright Fellow and earned a C.AS: in Language Teaching: TESOL. He has also worked as a program consultant with Catholic Relief Service in Nicaragua and USA, a project fellow with Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel-Palestine, and a research associate for the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative and International Development Education with a minor in Development Studies and Social Change at the University of Minnesota. His research interests examine the intersection of education, conflict and development with a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. 


Slade, Virgil

Email Address: slad0038@umn.edu
Country: South Africa

Virgil received BA and MA degrees from the University of the Western Cape. The project that he is working on was conceived during the two years he was employed at the District Six Museum as a researcher and text writer. Working on three different football exhibitions at the Museum illuminated the possibilities that football provided as a fruitful terrain for scholarly investigation. Today’s presentation is an example of how he plans to use football as a way of underscoring the importance of sports in Africa in general, and South Africa specifically.

Soto, Michael

Email Address: sotox116@umn.edu
Country: USA

Michael Soto is from Princeton, NJ.  He received his BA in Development in Latin America from Harvard University and his MA in Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation from the University of Sussex.  He has ten years of experience working on projects globally from Bangladesh to Colombia in a range of fields including entrepreneurship, innovation, grassroots politics, microfinance, and workforce development. He is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Minnesota with an interest in difference and solidarity across group boundaries, focusing on the role of relationships and networks.  

Springer, Emily

Email Address: spri0075@umn.edu
Country: USA

Emily Springer is a PhD hopeful in Sociology. She is interested in the intersection of evaluation, organizations, and women's empowerment in international development contexts. Emily holds a masters in International Education Policy from Harvard University and a bachelors degree in African Studies and International Studies from Ohio State University. She has experience in monitoring and evaluation, strategic planning, development research, and program management in the US, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. 

Srinivasamohan, Ashwini

Geography, Environment, and Society
Country: USA

Ashwini Srinivasamohan is originally from Rockville, Maryland. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, with minors in Anthropology and Spanish, at New York University. In 2011 After a year spent working for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Ashwini pursued a Master of Environmental Science (MESc) at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Her research is concerned with sociocultural values of waste and networks of informal waste working economies, with a focus on Chennai, India.

Steele, Alexander


Alex studied history and political science at Vassar College and earned an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. He studies South Asian history in the global context and is interested in historical conceptions of marginalization and resistance.    

Terra, Maria

Master of Human Rights
Email Address: terra040@umn.edu
Country: Chile

Maria Ignacia Terra Figueroa is an international student from Chile. Her undergraduate work was done at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile receiving a Political Scientist degree. After that she pursued a Master’s degree in Political Science focused on International Relations at the same university. She worked in different projects related to the human rights field, specially in transitional justice focused on human rights violations of the chilean dictatorship. She was recently awarded a Fulbright and U of M. Scholarship to pursue a Master of Human Rights.

Thumbran, Janeke

Email Address: thumb004@umn.edu
Country: South Africa

Janeke Thumbran is from Pretoria, South Africa. She has a BA in Education from the University of Pretoria, an MA in Communication Sciences from Tilburg University in The Netherlands and an MA in History from Indiana University. She is currently doing a PhD in African history and is looking specifically at the relationship between universities, urban planning and racial formation during the apartheid era. Janeke is also interested in digital humanities and is currently co-designing a digital project on the history of Guantánamo Bay.

Tun, Heider

Email Address: tuntu002@umn.edu
Country: Mexico

Heider Tun is from Merida, Mexico. His undergraduate work was done at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan where he graduated as a cultural anthropologist. Since 2011 he has been working for a Human Rights Organization in El Salvador called: The Committee of Mothers and Family-Members of the Imprisoned, Disappeared, and Politically Assassinated of El Salvador “Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero” (CoMadres) where he actively works to preserve civil war archives, document women’s testimonies and promote human rights. In addition, Heider has done fieldwork in Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru and is interested in topics such as: violence, memory, peace, women, human rights, global change, colonial history, and popular culture. His interdisciplinary work seeks to bring the history of disadvantaged minority groups to academic discussions. He is currently seeking a PhD in History at the University of Minnesota.


Vargas Gutierrez, German

Plant Biological Sciences
Email Address: varga111@umn.edu
Country: Costa Rica

German is a highly motivated biologist from Costa Rica, whose both short and long term goals involve working in natural resources management for sustainable development in rural localities from Latin America. He obtained his B.Sc. in Tropical Biology at the National University of Costa Rica, and then he got a specialization in Natural Resources Management by studying the effect of two soil types in plant traits associated with drought tolerance. He is interested in the study of tropical dry forests plant communities’ responses to climate change and the implications for social development, aiming to create tools that might facilitate conciliation between economic growth and nature conservation through forest management. During his graduate studies, he wants to focus on understanding the effects of current droughts on the tropical dry forests of Costa Rica, México, Colombia and Puerto Rico, with the intention of generating physiological data to parametrize ecological models on ecosystem’s responses to climate change.

Vig, Paul

Email Address: vigx0013@umn.edu
Country: USA

Paul Vig is from Northfield, MN.  He received his BA in History and Religion from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.  Following two years volunteering with his wife the United States Peace Corps in South Africa, he returned to Minnesota to pursue his PhD in African history.  His work looks at the history of hunting in South Africa and how it developed, and continues to operate, at the intersection of race, identity, and development.  

Wares, Heather

Email Address: wares001@umn.edu
Country: South Africa

Heather Wares is from Cape Town South Africa and graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA degree, majoring in Politics, History and English in 2007. After teaching English in Korea, she continued her studies in 2010, completing a postgraduate diploma with the African Programme for Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Directly following this, she completed a Masters under the history department at UWC focusing on the representation of Maritime Archaeology in a Post Apartheid South Africa.

In addition, Heather has worked in the field of maritime and underwater cultural heritage since 2010. She has gathered her experience through various projects both in South Africa and abroad, having worked for Iziko Museums, SAHRA, the African Centre for Heritage Activities and the African Slave Wrecks Project. She leaves a position as a Heritage Officer for SAHRA in the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit to enter into the PhD program with the African History Department. Her research interests address questions about Southern African peoples’ historical relationship to and understanding of (bodies) of water, including oceans, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. This interest lies in conjunction with questions of community, knowledge production and the creation of publics.

Wauters, Vivian

Applied Plant Science
Email Address: vwauters@umn.edu
Country: USA

A native of California, Vivian earned her BA and MA in Linguistics from UC Berkeley, where she studied endangered languages in northeastern Amazonia. After four years working on small-scale vegetable farms, Vivian became interested in the intersection of ecological health and agricultural production. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in Applied Plant Science in order to study soil health and cover cropping strategies both in the US and abroad.

Ye, Shana

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
Email Address: yexxx167@umn.edu
Country: China

Shana Ye is a Phd candidate in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She received her Bachelor of Law in International Affairs and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Beijing International Studies University, China and her Master of Arts in Women, Gender and Sexuality at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Shana's academic researches include transnational feminist and queer studies, feminist/queer studies of affect, critical methodology, queer cinema and queer ecology. Her dissertation interrogates the relationship between futurity and the discourse of repression and modernity by examining queer affect and subject formations. Shana is also a graphic artist, blogger and she translated AN CRITICAL INTRODUCTION OF QUEER THEORY in Chinese.

Ye, Wei


Wei Ye is from southern China and is seeking a PhD in Cultural Anthropology. She received her BA in Sociology in Fudan University and finished her Master in Anthropology in Sun Yat-sen University. She worked for a business research company for a year to help understand consumers' interests and behaviors. Her research interests are in the body and embodiment, science studies and everyday life studies.

First Year Students

Abdelghany Ibrahim, Mohamed

Email Address: abdel153@umn.edu

Mohamed is from Egypt.  He holds a B.Sc. in Accounting, MBA in financial management.  His experience is in the banking sector, and he is interested in Economic development practices to eliminate poor and corruption in Egypt.

Arce Martinez, Adriana

Email Address: arcem001@umn.edu

Adriana is 24 and from Bolivia.  She graduated from Catolica University in La Paz Bolivia, with a BA in International Business. During college she had the chance to explore different areas of study, from Finance to Leadership. She enjoys Entrepreneurship, Leadership and the International Relations field. One important experience she had during this time was to start a personal business by designing, producing and selling women bags to different target markets in Bolivia. After working in two international companies, she decided to focus her career on development projects that can be oriented to improve quality of life standards in developing countries.

Becker, Katrina

Email Address: becke768@umn.edu

Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Katrina moved to Minnesota in 2010 to pursue her undergraduate degree in Public/Nonprofit Management and Entrepreneurial Management, with a minor in Sustainability Studies, at the University of Minnesota. In 2012, she studied abroad for a semester in Kenya through the Minnesota Studies in International Development Program (MSID) and completed an internship on micro-credit at a rural community bank. Since graduating, Katrina has been working as a Development and Communications Associate at WellShare International, based in Minneapolis.

Bohn, Hannah

Email Address: bohnx125@umn.edu

Born in Minnesota and raised in Colorado, Hannah earned her undergraduate degree in anthropology and French from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois in 2014. Following graduation, she served as an AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps team leader before traveling to Thailand to teach English. While abroad, she volunteered in the recovery efforts of All Hands Volunteers following Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Most recently,  Hannah worked as communications and volunteer coordinator for a non profit home repair and disaster relief ministry in the Bahamas. At the University of Minnesota, she is excited to pursue her interests in disaster relief/recovery and volunteerism.

Compton, Jennifer

Email Address: compt035@umn.edu

Jennifer graduated from Lawrence University in 2011 with a B.A. in Government. She is interested in forced migration and refugee resettlement, a passion that stems from time spent working with refugees while teaching and living in Amman, Jordan. For the past three years, Jennifer has worked with refugees and immigrants new to the Twin Cities at a small non-profit, and is eager to deepen my understanding and ability to impact this work.

Elsayad, Elmohanad

Email Address: elsay021@umn.edu

ELmohanad is 23 years old. He grew up in Port-said in the north of Egypt and then moved to the capital to study at the American University in Cairo through the LEAD scholarship sponsored by USAID. Elmohanad received his bachelor's of science in construction engineering with a specialization in Construction Management in Spring 2016. He is a believer that the success of any project or program depends primarily on its management system, and is very interested in digging deep into the field of public management and the management of development programs.  He is also interested to learn about Infrastructure and housing policies to combine his Construction Engineering background with Public Policy and Development. As a student leader at his University, Elmohanad participated in different development campaigns in Egypt's slums where he helped promote the infrastructure of these areas by raising funds and providing solutions to some of the problems.

Eyimina, Tarere

Email Address: eyimi002@umn.edu

Tarere was born and raised in Lagos Nigeria, but is originally from Bayelsa state in the Southern part of Nigeria. She studied economics and International Relations at Knox College in Galesburg Illinois. She is particularly interested in micro-finance and how it can be used to empower women and help them lift their families above the poverty line. She has worked on several community development projects including creating a youth board and a travel/tourism package for the galesburg community. She has some experience writing rants for Discovery Depot, a children's museum in Galesburg. She spent a year teaching grade three students at a public elementary school in Lagos Nigeria. 

Fair, Julia

Email Address: fairx033@umn.edu

Julia graduated from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin in May 2016 with a BS in Sociology with a Social Justice Emphasis and a BA in Sustainable Community Development with a minor in Environmental Studies. While at Northland College, Julia conducted research for both her major department and the Center for Rural Communities. While attending the Humphrey Institute, she hopes to study peace processes following civil conflict and how societies have fared. She will focus on on-the-ground activities during negotiations to measure the effects of outside intervention (i.e. peacekeeping forces, NGOs, and the people appointed to broker peace agreements) on the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Giron, Isaac

Email Address: giron019@umn.edu

Isaac is from Mountain View, CA and earned his Bachelors degree in International Development from UCLA. Upon graduation, he joined the Peace Corps where he served in Togo, West Africa as an English Teacher and Gender Equality extension agent. While in Togo, Isaac developed a great interest in strengthening existing organizations, and empowering locals to assume a greater role in the development of their communities. Following the Peace Corps, he interned for Kiva Microfunds and worked with teachers and students on informing their peers of microfinance and global poverty issues. Isaac's professional interests include capacity building/training, and the implementation of development projects with sustainable outcomes.

Golightly, Christian

Email Address: goli0025@umn.edu

Christian has a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota.  In 2015 he returned from 2 and a half years in Kyrgyzstan with the Peace Corps. He taught English, but also did many other side projects within the village and the surrounding areas. He would like to continue working in developing countries and hopes to find a good fit during this program.

Hassan Wasarme, Amal

Email Address: wars0071@umn.edu

Amal received her bachelors across the street at Augsburg College in Political Science and Psychology.  At first, she wanted to study the effect war has on the psychology of those who have lived it but she moved on to add political science in order to understand how war happens and what could be done to prevent it. Now as a student doing my masters in International Development Amal is interested in the African continent and the effect war has on women and children, terrorism as well as understanding the reconstruction of a country after decades of war. Her interest in war comes from a history of living through civil war and being personally effected by it and she hope to learn more and understand more


Marsh, Isabel

Email Address: posad009@umn.edu

Isabel is a Colombian economist, who has experienced firsthand the struggle to access the building blocks of development. Isabel is passionate about finding solutions for people battling poverty. She has a keen interest in economic development, gender studies, conflict resolution, rural and sustainable development. Isabel has worked in strategic communication for a public relations firm in Colombia, having as her main client the Colombian Government. There she deepened her knowledge on the Colombian conflict, the struggle of victims, the importance of peace, and the intricacies of international relations. She moved to Minnesota in 2014 looking to improve her English and explore the academic scene. She found here what is called home and a handful of great opportunities to become an active agent in the development process.

Ntalo, Erin

Email Address: ntalo002@umn.edu

Erin was born and raised in Minnesota, earned a B.A. from Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, and lived on the west side of Chicago for several years after graduation where she worked in community development. What followed were a few months living in Uganda, where she met her now-husband. They married a year later, in 2014, and have been living in Minneapolis since. Erin now oversees the retail operations of Spyhouse Coffee Roasters, where she has honed a passion for entrepreneurship. She wants to explore further the power small business and sustainable practices can have in the lives of ordinary Africans.

Raasch, Cody

Email Address: raas0046@umn.edu

Cody Raasch is from Milwaukee, WI and came to Minneapolis to complete his BA in Psychology at the University of Minnesota. In 2012 he participated in the University's MSID program in Kenya, researching behavioral modes of transmission in the Luo tribe. After graduating he worked as a program assistant for a Mental Health Non-profit called Touchstone Mental Health.

Roisen, Patrick

Email Address: roise010@umn.edu

Patrick Roisen is a 2011 graduate of St. Olaf College, majoring in Political Science and History. Before arriving to Humphrey, he served over 3 years in West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. There he worked as the National Program Coordinator, and later as the Development Officer, for an international NGO. He is originally from Argentina and spent a majority of his upbringing living internationally. Patrick's professional interests include exploring strategies to improve access to education in developing countries and promoting gender equality.

Voller, Vanessa

Email Address: voll0144@umn.edu

Vanessa Voller is a 2016 graduate of Colorado College where she obtained a Bachelor of Art’s degree in Sociology with concentrations in post development theory and international education. As an undergraduate, Vanessa served as a research fellow for the Bell Policy Center in Denver, Colorado and the World Policy Institute in New York. She has lived and worked in a variety of countries throughout Latin America including Argentina, Bolivia, Panama, and Costa Rica. Most recently Vanessa served as the Costa Rica Program Director for Amigos de las Americas, a cross-cultural youth leadership organization. Vanessa’s research interests include participatory action based research methodologies and the Vivir Bien/Buen Vivir paradigm. While at the University of Minnesota, Vanessa hopes to continue to build upon her qualitative research skills while answering the question: how do citizens of the 21st century use environmental and cultural conservation as a means for community development?

Wiedenman, Erin

Email Address: wiede070@umn.edu

Erin Wiedenman graduated from Appalachian State University in 2013 with a B.S. in Geography. During her college years, she spent a semester studying abroad in Ireland, learning about urban planning and geography. She also spent a summer as an intern with the State Property Office in NC doing GIS work through the NC State Government Internship Program. She has had several jobs as well as done volunteer work focusing on children and education including working as an after school tutor for youth in poverty, a volunteer mentor for Western Youth Network, a camp counselor, an Alternative Spring Break trip participant and leader, and most recently, a nanny. She is particularly interested in international education and immigration, as well as gender studies.

Zumba-Deleg, Franklin

Email Address: zumb0025@umn.edu

Franklin is 26 and moved from Ecuador to Minneapolis in 2005. He graduated from St. Cloud State University last year, with two BA's one in International Relations and the other in Political Science. During his years at St Cloud State, he worked with non-profits in the Minnetonka area, helping those less fortunate get the help they needed. During this time he learned that he wanted to take this experience a little step farther and got at internship and a job at the Ecuadorian Consulate of Minnesota, where he worked with the Ecuadorian community and different international organizations. After this experience he thought that he can do much more to improve the quality of life standards in back home and in other poor countries in South America. He decided that the best way to help achieve this goal was to focus in his career and gain the knowledge he needs in order for him to change the world.

Second Year Students

Baatartsogt, Oyudari

Email Address: baata001@umn.edu

My name is Oyudari Baatartsogt and I'm from Mongolia. After earning my B.A. in psychology with honors from the U of M, I decided to pursue the MDP program.  Also,  I'm a Jack Kent Cooke foundation scholar.
My topics of interest include public health,natural resources, and the interrelation of the two.

Dampha, Nfamara

Email Address: damph002@umn.edu

Nfamara K. Dampha, a native of The Gambia is admitted to the MDP program with the expectations to becoming a special international development expert on climate change adaptation and social welfare. He earned Cum-laude- BA in Development Studies with a minor in Psychology at the University of The Gambia in 2012. Over the course of three years professional experience, he also served as Director of Administration at the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), under the Office of the President, Republic of The Gambia. He has officially attended international conferences in many African countries including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, etc.

Mr. Dampha was also a Mandela Washington Fellow of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative 2014.  He spent six (6) weeks studying Public Management at the University of Minnesota and participated in a week Washington Fellows Summit hosted by President Obama. There he had the opportunity to interact, hone his leadership skills and network with U.S. leaders in the field of business, government, non-profit sector and young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.

As a current MDP student, Dampha is found to be interested in international development practices on disaster risk reduction/ management, climate change adaptation/ mitigation, social welfare/public health issues, and project planning and management.

Hadorn, Sean

Email Address: hado0003@umn.edu

My name is Sean Hadorn and I am a 2005 graduate of the University of Minnesta - Twin Cities with a degree in human geography and a focus on regional analysis and development. After graduation I spent time working in volunteer camps for Hurricane Katrina as a Team Leader with the National Civilian Community Corps. After that I drove a car from California to the southernmost tip of South America. Upon returning to the States I found myself working in Democratic electoral politics with stints in the Wisconsin Assembly, the Ohio House, and President Obama's reelection campaign and inauguration. I am particularly interested in how global disaster relief and recovery efforts are organized and executed, the global response to the growing climate crisis, and how to best create policies to address these problems that are acceptable to our political leaders.

Kirgis, Alison

Email Address: kirgi004@umn.edu

Alison Kirgis is a 2012 graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs with concentrations in international human rights and environmental policy. In college she joined the student chapter of Amnesty International (AI) and discovered her passion for working to enhance human rights at home and abroad. She went on to become the AI volunteer Legislative Coordinator for Ohio and then Minnesota where she has focused extensively on international women’s rights legislation.  Since graduation she has also worked in international finance and underwriting in Cincinnati, OH and then became the community organizer/administrator for the Como Community Council in Saint Paul, MN. As a community organizer, Alison helped lead initiatives to promote and ultimately increase recycling, composting and overall environmental stewardship in the community. 

Alison is particularly interested in exploring how sound natural resources management and sustainable development can lead to the enhancement of human rights, and she is very excited to pursue these areas of interest in the interdisciplinary MDP program.

Maikuri, Antony

Email Address: maiku001@umn.edu

My name is Maikuri Bob Antony and I come from Nairobi Kenya. I am a transfer student from the Western Kentucky University having started off with masters in Organizational Leadership where I gained skills and knowledge about leadership in an organization. After studying half way in the program I realized my main passion is to do development, that’s why I transferred to the University of Minnesota. This passion of development did not start recently but after having an undergraduate in bachelors of Science in finance specialization on microfinance and after working in some financial organizations in Kenya I realized I needed to practically learn and have knowledge on development projects. This change of mind came when I started my training with the United Nations Industrial Development program on training women on entrepreneurships with collaborations with Hewlett Packard and gender for women entrepreneurship. This was a changing point in my life and it’s when I had to follow the path of development. In between, I have worked with Scopeinsight East Africa, a Dutch organization on agricultural development in East Africa. I am looking for a career line in development practices especially working back in Africa after gaining many skills from this great country of America.

Nkwenge, June

Email Address: nkwen004@umn.edu

June S. Nkwenge hails from Wakiso district in Uganda. She has worked as Operations Manager of Smart Oils and Smart Farm since November 2011 and August 2012 respectively. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in May 2012, and has most recently completed a Business and Entrepreneurship Institute at Northwestern University as a Mandela Washington Fellow. She is looking to pursue a Masters in Development Practice from the University of Minnesota, and is most keen to learn about Human Rights, social justice and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Osborne, Lillian

Email Address: osbor185@umn.edu

I have a strong interest in community building, and particularly programming that leverages partnerships between private enterprise and nonprofit organizations. Most recently I worked in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Outerwall, the company behind Redbox and Coinstar kiosks. I earned a B.A. in Political Science from Gonzaga University and previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA, as well as worked for several nonprofit organizations. Within the MDP program I am especially interested in learning more about micro-enterprise development and natural resource management.

Sobraske, Katelynn

Email Address: sobr0004@umn.edu

My name is Katelynn Sobraske and I graduated from the College of St. Benedict with a B.A. in Psychology. After graduating I spent a year living abroad and Teaching English through an organization, which sparked my interest in international work. After living and working abroad, I returned to the US and worked in the health field for several years. My goal is to combine these two passions through MDP and increase my influence internationally through public service.

Tatlow, Johanna

Email Address: tatlo003

I graduated from Columbia International University with my Bachelors in Humanities and a Masters in Theology, during which I studied both Christian and Islamic studies. My interest in development comes from growing up in Turkey, spending several years in the underdeveloped Southeastern region. I worked for the last two years as an employment specialist focusing on case management for ex-offenders through Goodwill in South Carolina. 

Villarraga, Maria

Email Address: villa374@umn.edu

I am Maria Camila Villarraga from Colombia. I am an Industrial Engineer graduated from Universidad de los Andes (Bogota, Colombia). I have almost three years of experience on financial planning. I am fluent in Spanish, English and French. I find very interesting the experiences that allow interaction with intercultural and multidisciplinary teams.


During my degree I took a course called “Public Systems” which focused on the critical analysis of public problems in Colombia; this topic attracted my attention and interest in researching about development issues within the country. As a result, I decided to investigate on inclusive businesses, elaborating a framework for a successful sustainable model in Colombia that contributes to the development of the base of the social pyramid..

I want to address social and economic development in my country. Colombia has a challenging environment to which I intend to contribute by proposing meaningful and optimal solutions to various development problems. I believe this program will contribute enormously to address real-world issues and approach them with creative solutions.


Waiswa, Moses

Email Address: waisw005@umn.edu

My name is Moses Waiswa and I immigrated to the U.S. in 2007. I am from Uganda but grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. I graduated last year with a double major in political science and global studies. I had previously worked at Bridging inc a non-profit that helps families in transition from 2008-2010. I am pursuing my MDP as I am interested in human rights, sustainable development and working with refugees. My passion would be to work with refugee populations in Sub Saharan Africa. 

Wittman, David

Email Address: wittm045@umn.edu

My name is David Wittman and I grew up in the metro area around Minneapolis. I earned a degree in Biology from University of Minnesota Morris. Before my undergrad I served in the US Air Force where I grew an appreciation for what challenges some areas of the world contend with. Since my undergraduate studies I have worked with several different types of organizations and found that I have a desire to improve and empower those I work with. I recently traveled to South Africa where I worked in the greater Cape Town area providing support to those that aspire to improve their lives and a have a more fulfilling experience. My desire moving forward is to work in the response effort for disasters to rebuild infrastructure in a sustainable and forward thinking way to most benefit the local populace. 

Graduated Students

Punay, Maria Victoria (Mavic)

Email Address: punay001@umn.edu

Maria (Mavic) Punay earned her undergraduate degree in Development Studies in 2007 and has since been involved in the development field in the Philippines. She has worked for the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO, coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Program in the country. She has a keen research interest in the conservation and sustainable development of natural and cultural heritage sites.

Adaboh, Afia


My name is Afia Achiaa Adaboh. I was born on the 13th of May 1988 in a city called Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. I did my undergraduate studies in Political science and Sociology at the University of Ghana. After graduation I volunteered with the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) and worked as an election monitor during Ghana’s 2012 elections. I also worked with a Faith-based NGO called Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council as a Project Assistant. In this role, I assisted the unit director in carrying out a range of projects in needy communities in the country. I hope that a Masters in development practice will equip me with the necessary knowledge and skills to plan more effective interventions and positively impact the lives of the poor and vulnerable in my country especially women and children.

Bayu, Mekdelawit

Email Address: bayux004@umn.edu

Born and raised in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, Mekdelawit Bayu joined the MDP program on the path to make her aspirations of becoming a Development Practitioner and social justice activist her career profession. She earned her B.A. in Global Studies with a concentration in International Political Economy and a minor in African and African American Studies from University of Minnesota. While her geographic area of interest continues to be sub-Saharan Africa, she is interested in developing applied skills in development program design, impact evaluation, and women empowerment.

She  is starting her MDP program with work experience in the nonprofit sector, as well as international organizations. In her role as the Communication and Outreach Manager at the nonprofit Prepare + Prosper, she worked with immigrant and underserved populations in the Twin Cities, in helping them gain access to free tax preparation and financial services. She also worked on the statewide Claim it! campaign that promotes the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as managed social media and customer story telling programs. 

Internationally, she's worked in Ethiopia with United Nation's Economic Commission for Africa on a literary review for post-2015 Millennium Development agenda for least developing countries (LDC's) particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. She is also an African Union Youth Volunteer Corps, and as such had the opportunity to partake in various trainings, as well as the 17th Annual Summit of Heads of States meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Butler, Megan

Email Address: butle553@umn.edu

My name is Megan Butler and I am a first year student in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ MDP program. I was born and raised in Chicagoland, Illinois and obtained a degree in Environmental Studies from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Most of my work experience is comprised of either biological research or environmental education and community advocacy work both domestically and in Central America. I spent several years working with the United States Peace Corps in El Salvador which is ultimately what inspired me to return to the United States and work towards my Masters degree at UMN. In my free time I enjoy long-distance running, journaling and volunteering.

Cao, Rong


My name is Rong Cao from Shanghai, China. I have graduated from Fudan University 2010, majoring in Statistics and minoring in Laws. As the president of the Red Cross Fudan University branch, I have dedicated myself to HIV/AIDS prevention and first aid training. Having worked as a project manager in charge of a rural-teacher training project in the Adream Charitable Foundation in China for one year and a half, I have witnessed how a better education method changes the teachers’ career as well as their life. As a result, I would like to pursue more theories and tools in the education field to improve my work during my study as a MDP student. Also, I would like to learn more about health policies which is another issue I am interested in. I love reading and swimming. MDP program will be a most valuable experience in both of my career and my life. I am hoping to make new friends in the following 2 years.

Chisholm, John

Email Address: chish031@umn.edu

John Chisholm moved to Minneapolis from Oakland, California, but he is a Mainer at heart. He received a BA in Government from Wesleyan University, and is interested in sustainable development issues, with a focus on renewable energy and waste management. His areas of interest include sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

De Mel, Randi


My name is Randi De Mel, and I am from Colombo, Sri Lanka. For my young days, I wanted to have a career in the nonprofit sector in order to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I earned my double major in Supply Chain Management and Finance (Bachelor of Science) from Arizona State University in 2009. Furthermore, I obtained a Master of Science in Public and Nonprofit Institutions (PNI) from St.Cloud State University in 2013. For my master’s thesis, I conducted an empirical analysis that examined the effect of human capital (education and health) on economic growth in developing countries using data from the World Development Indicators Data Base from 1980 to 2010. Moreover, this study analyzed whether education of females contributes to economic growth more than the education of males. Additionally, since 2010, I have been a volunteer for the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter and Central Minnesota Chapter. Currently, I am a volunteer International Services Caseworker for the Restoring Family Links Program where I help to reconnect families separated due to war, disasters, and on humanitarian grounds for the American Red Cross Twin Cities Chapter. I am extremely excited to be part of the MDP program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. While pursing my MDP degree, I will be studying a minor in program evaluation. My research interests are in education, poverty, income inequality, and sustainable development in developing countries. For my hobbies, I enjoy travelling, hiking, and reading.

Diemer, Alexandra


My name is Alexandra Diemer, a native Minnesotan with an itch to travel and interests in culture, health, and creative expression.
I graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 2011 with a degree in Biology, but along the route to sorting out my long-term goals and prospects for education, I spent my ‘gap year’ working and developing other skill-sets. Because nutrition and holistic health are important parts of my personal life (and I needed to pay rent and buy things like groceries), I became certified as a personal trainer. I also worked as a development intern with One Heartland, a non-profit based in Minneapolis that provides respite and social counseling for children and families who are at-risk and suffering from HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other health/social obstacles. Then in February, I traveled to South America and spent two months volunteering in a shanty community on the southern border of Lima, Peru.\nThe push that led me to this program began in 2010 when I spent three months researching in the savannahs of Namibia. It took me a while to interpret how living a simpler life from a tent and a backpack could frame my future, but my work in Africa was the first experience that really got my blood boiling. I knew I wanted to continue with higher education, but none of the graduate programs I had found fit all of my study area interests. I saw a common theme in my experiences abroad: that in order for conservation to be successful and viable, core issues must be confronted from as many sides of the spectrum as possible. So I kept searching for a collaborative degree, one that was multi-faceted and transcended the boundaries of ‘traditional’ conservation efforts (if such a term can be used). And just as my educational quest has led me to the MDP program, I am very enthused to see how the next two years mold and whittle my career path.

Dorbor, Edwin


Edwin Dorbor was born and raised in Liberia, West Africa. He graduated from the University of Liberia with a B.S. degree in Economics. He spent several years working with Save the Children UK, UNICEF, UNDP and the Government of Liberia. His job responsibilities included supporting management, implementation and monitoring of women and children’s programs across Liberia and other West African Countries. His experience working with these different organizations motivated him to pursue a study in Master of Development Practice in International Development at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He is looking at starting a program management career in the field of international development. Edwin resettled with his family in Minnesota in 2009. He enjoys outing and being with his family and friends.

Dyna Barroso, Felipe

Email Address: dynab001@umn.edu

My name is Felipe Dyna Barroso and I am originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I hold a B.A in International Affairs from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, but spent three years of my undergraduate at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo. Over the course of five years of professional experience, I had the opportunity to work for the Bexar County Economic Development Department in San Antonio and the Tax Collections Department in Barueri (Brazil). The experience in the public sector in both countries sparked my interest in the role of the State as a catalyst for development. On a more specific level, my professional interests are in project design and evaluation. As a current MDP student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, my career and life goal is to assist developing nations in achieving economic development coupled with social justice.

Faris, Kasim

Email Address: kasim009@umn.edu

I did my undergraduate studies in Business Administration in Pakistan. After starting out as a journalist, I worked in a grassroots NGO and later joined the national office of Save the Children in Pakistan. I got the opportunity to work with the organization in different capacities in East Africa and most recently in the Middle East. Though I attended several workshops and also completed a few diplomas related to development practice, I realized that I needed to gain interdisciplinary training in policy making, economics, program evaluation and financial management to reach my professional goals. The right balance of academic and skill-based training is what has brought me to the MDP program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Field, Christina

Email Address: field324@umn.edu

I studied Comparative Cultures and Politics during my undergraduate experience at Michigan State University, and received a minor in Gender in a Global Context (GenCen) and African Studies. I worked for several journalist publications in Michigan regarding education, business, and gender issues. My main passion is working with refugee populations, which I have done the past six years in America and abroad, particularly through teaching ESL and Community Orientation (CO) courses and, most recently, case management for newly arrived refugees in Kansas City, Missouri.

Gebru, Eliel


Eliel Gebru is native of Ethiopia; she has an MBA in business management from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota and a BS in management information systems from University of Northwestern in Saint Paul, Minnesota.\nMuch of her work experience in the area of international development has been in program management and administration for USAID funded projects. She has also worked in various Minnesota based higher learning institutions designing and providing transitional academic support services and interventions to students that come from historically under-served communities. This past summer she had the opportunity to be part of a University of Minnesota evaluation and monitoring research team that looked at youth education programs in sub-Saharan Africa.\nHer research interest primarily focus on social justice education. She is particularly interested in looking at the digital divide and how disparities in access to information communication technologies (ICTs) intersect with the quality of education.

Gering, Elizabeth


My name is Elizabeth Gering. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a degree in Rural Sociology with a focus in International Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2009. As an undergraduate, I became involved with a student organization that focused on sustainable agriculture initiatives, which sparked my interest in global food systems. After graduation, I got a position as an AmeriCorps VISTA working on a joint garden and nutrition education program for at risk youth in Madison with UW-Extension and a local non-profit. I continued to work for the non-profit as a garden educator, as well as a consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to create community based garden and Farm to School programs around the state. I was able to bring my knowledge of youth agriculture programs to Nepal in 2012 to work with a local organization in schools around the Kathmandu Valley. My interests remain in agriculture and education, and I am excited to continue to pursue a development career here in the MDP program. In my free time I enjoy yoga, cooking, good wine, the ocean, and playing with my yellow lab Sunny!

Getahun, Angélica


Angélica Getahun is entering her second year of the MDP program after working for five years as the Events and Outreach Coordinator at Peace Coffee, a Minneapolis-based fair trade and organic coffee company. Before Peace Coffee, Angelica was a social worker in Nevada, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Costa Rica. In the community of San Martin de Rivas, she worked with small-scale coffee growers on a marketing project, selling their organic fair trade coffee on the Pacific Coast. Additionally, she worked with a variety of community members on projects ranging from peace and conflict resolution to Junior Achievement. She has a strong interest in micro-enterprise development and value chain analysis, and will be working in the Oriente, Ecuador for her summer field experience. Angelica grew up in the border community of Douglas, AZ, and holds a B.A. in Spanish and Business Administration from the University of Redlands.

Ghebreamlack, Israel


A native of Eritrea, Israel Ghebreamlack is a Master of Development Practice (MDP) student, minoring in Public Policy and is interested in international development and immigration. Israel completed his undergraduate coursework in the year 2012 in Global Studies major and African/African American Studies minor at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He did his Global Studies degree and joined the MDP program encouraged by his colleagues and friends while he was volunteering as a refugee paralegal in Nairobi Kenya. In his spare time, Israel enjoys helping newly arrived refugees get familiar with Minnesota. He also enjoys helping with homeless shelters as much as he can.

Glynn, Natalie


Natalie Glynn grew up exploring the woods of Fairburn and Fort Benning, GA (and a few other places across the country as the daughter of a military man). She went to college at Auburn University, where she studied anthropology, history, and biology. Combining her love of people and the environment with her voracious appetite for knowledge, she was involved in a variety of student organizations and volunteering opportunities throughout college including water testing in Alabama and Tennessee and compiling oral histories for the Clearfork Community Institute, TN. She also sought and received research fellowships in biological anthropology and community organization focusing on Alabama coal communities. In 2010, she earned her BA in Anthropology from Auburn University and joined Teach For America. For the past two years she has taught 6th grade science at Todd County Middle School on the Rosebud Reservation. Her studies and experiences up to this point have taught her the value of healthy sustainable communities, so she continues her education with the goal of becoming a resource to the communities she has had the privilege to know and love.

Gonzalez, Susana


Susana Gonzalez is a candidate for the Masters of Development Practice (MDP) program 2014 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. A native of Bolivia, she grew up in the culturally rich environment of Los Angeles. For 4 years Gonzalez worked in the documentary division of the public television station KCET-TV as researcher and administrative assistant, working on issues affecting marginalized communities. More recently, Gonzalez’s research on child labor in the mining sector of developing countries led to an internship at the United Nations’ International Labor Organization in the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor. Gonzalez received her B.A. degree in English from California State University, Northridge and, as an adult student, a second B.A. degree in International Studies with an emphasis on sustainable development from California State University, East Bay. As a member of the global network of Masters of Development Practice students, scholars, and practitioners, Susana is committed to advancing practical solutions to address global poverty and sustainable development.

Guachichulca, Zoila


My name is Zoila Guachichulca, I am originally from Ecuador.   I am pursuing a Masters of International Development and Practice at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  I want to contribute to underdeveloped societies on emerging issues that cause poverty, inequality and injustice. I did my field experience in  the community of Junin, Peru where I  gained more knowledge on socially just solutions for the underprivileged groups  by designing a development project to promote an ecosystem protection and sustainable development in the Junin’s community. As undergraduate  my research has primarily focused on poverty alleviation within struggling marginalized communities. For example, while studying in Brazil in 2011, I completed an independent research study in which I analyzed Brazil’s anti-poverty programs:Family Grant and National Student Assistance. In summer 2010, I conducted an original research project titled, “The Driving Force Behind Latinos/as and Doctoral Degree Attainment.” Additionally, in summer 2011, I worked with a research team at the University of Texas Austin on “Project M.A.L.E.S:  Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success.” Both research projects enhanced my analytical reasoning skills by learning about the under-representation of Latinos in higher education.  As a student of Masters in Development and Practice I have gained substantive knowledge, tools, and guidance to analyze and address complex challenges to development.

Hamid, Saleema


I am from Islamabad, Pakistan but the U.S Midwest is my other home. I attended Northland College in Ashland, WI, which is where I began to explore the northwoods, discover the magic of Lake Superior and find myself amongst amazing individuals. I have journeyed much since then ~ in terms of cultural transitions, acceptance, evolving outlooks and of course, all the wonderful challenges in between. My travels have allowed me to understand the importance of cross-cultural dialogues and global exposure ~ something I am now active with, in the communities that I interact in. One of my favorite mediums for communication is using my photography and mixed-media-art to connect people and places. While my undergraduate background is in Environment, Biology and Sociology, I have worked in the educational sector of Pakistan and on the side pursued social work, especially in the times of the recent Monsoons Flash Flooding we experienced. With my commitment towards civic responsibility, the MDP program will give me just the right skill set to pursue my efforts more effectively—on a personal and professional level. I look forward to gaining the holistic approach this program has to offer (though Statistics and Economics scare me) and I am excited to meet everyone. Plus adventures await.

Hernandez Espinosa, Violeta

Email Address: herna414@umn.edu

At the age of 10, Violeta and her family were forced to leave their small farm in Michoacán, México when the deteriorating economy made their way of life impossible. Relocating in rural southern Minnesota, Violeta struggled with the language barrier, discrimination, and financial obstacles but graduated eight years later as the valedictorian of her high school class. At Gustavus Adolphus College, Violeta pioneered on-campus diversity efforts, co-founding and co-directing the Zeta Chi Phi Multicultural Sorority and Orgullo Latino Association; she graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in International Management and Spanish. Upon graduating, Violeta worked in the private sector for a large, multi-national agribusiness corporation, but seeing the damage done to small businesses by the decisions of these giant companies, she decided to join the non-profit sector in order to contribute to making our world ‘more just.' She returned to Gustavus Adolphus as the Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment, working to increase the admission percentage and aid packages of underrepresented students. In 2012, Violeta received a Princeton in Latin America fellowship, which allowed her to spend a year working in rural Mexican public schools as part of the Learning Communities Project, an innovative and radical approach to education reform. Violeta believes that the best way to strengthen and develop an economy and society is through education. After completing the Master of Development Practice, she plans to return to Mexico and devote her life to education reform, Indigenous people’s rights and development in her home country.

Herr-Hoyman, Rachel


My name is Rachel Herr-Hoyman. I grew up in Madison, WI where I developed a love of politics and social justice causes. While in high school I had the opportunity to take a trip to Australia which cemented my love for travel and exploring other cultures. I have a BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. While there I studied abroad in Aberdeen Scotland and was able to travel around Europe. After graduating I worked as a contractor in the Scottish Affairs Office at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. My goal is to become a foreign service officer and I am very excited to be a part of the MDP program.

Hill, Joshua


I grew up in Minneapolis, and graduated from Hope College in Michigan with BAs in International Studies and History. After graduation, I worked in Minneapolis for an international consulting firm. Following a six-week leave of absence traveling in the Levant, the downsizing of my entire office provided an opportunity. I relocated to Damascus, and spent much of 2009-20011 teaching English, studying Arabic, and traveling. During the summers of 2009-2011, I returned to Morocco, where I had studied abroad, as the leader of an experiential learning and cultural exchange program for high school students. I returned from Syria to Minneapolis in 2011, and am involved with the East African youth population, working as a math and English tutor via the Somalia American Parent Association, and working to secure employment for refugees and asylees via World Relief – Minnesota.
I look forward to starting the MDP program at the Humphrey school. My professional areas of interest are the MENA region, refugee issues, and cross cultural exchange. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, reading, playing soccer, cooking, and spending time outdoors.

Hume, Meagan


Meagan Hume hails from Maryland. She did her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr College, graduating with a BA in Anthropology and Peace & Conflict Studies. After three years doing events and conferences management, she became a Health Case Manager with refugee populations in Philadelphia through AmeriCorps. After AmeriCorps, Meagan worked with the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis. It was through these experiences that Meagan decided to enroll in the Masters of Development Practice program at the University of Minnesota. Through her affiliation with the Institute on the Environment at the UofM, Meagan has honed her research and career interests to understanding the impact of climate change on vulnerable human populations, especially in the human rights context.

Hylton, Zachary


Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Zachary Hylton graduated from St. Olaf College in 2011, majoring in Sociology Anthropology and Political Science and concentrating in China Studies. As an undergrad, Zachary established an affinity for cultural development through his work with multicultural student organizations on campus. After graduation, he worked as a community organizer in East Cleveland, reifying social capital and establishing community driven institutions in a poverty stricken suburb. This experience not only exposed him the issues surrounding development but also to the urgency of poverty alleviation in post-industrial societies. For the last nine months, Zachary continued his collegiate study of Chinese language and culture at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei. Interested in poverty alleviation, capacity building, and institutional analysis, he has conducted research on a diversity of international systems and excited to learn more about global processes through the MDP program.

Jain, Amrita

Email Address: jainx227@umn.edu

Amrita Vijay Jain is a MDP candidate at Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. She has her undergraduate degree in literature and psychology. As an undergraduate she has researched and written on the issue of migrant labourers. Amrita pursued her postgraduate degree in journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune, India where she found a ground in newspaper writing. As a correspondent with India's leading daily, The Indian Express, Amrita reported extensively on issues of urban development, environment and heritage conservation. She also holds a diploma in international humanitarian law.

Karki, Bibhusha


My name is Bibhusha Karki. I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead, with International Studies as my major and economics as my minor. During my undergraduate years, I was involved in Student Senate by advocating issues about diversity. I also served in Moorhead Human Rights Commission as an international youth member. After graduation, I worked as an interpreter at a local NGO for Bhutanese New Americans refugees in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Volunteering in various NGOs during my schooling years got me interested in the field of development from early on. Getting into the MDP program at the Humphrey Institute is a dream coming true. During my visits to my home country Nepal, I have been actively taking part with Nepal’s movement for accountable leadership- Nepal Unites. I am interested in issues of Human Rights, gender equality, and sustainability development. I enjoy photography, reading, travelling, and watching movies, catching up with family-friends in my free time.

Kathirgamu, Kamaladevy

Email Address: kathi007@umn.edu

I am originally from San Francisco, California. I moved to Colombia in 2007 where I did my undergraduate studies in International Relations and volunteered in the non-profit sector in community empowerment projects over the last eight years. Out of college I worked for the UNDP for Latin America and the Caribbean as an Instructional Design Professional. I led the planning and implementation of projects to foment capacity building in Human Development for decision makers in the public sector, UN officials, and leaders of underrepresented groups.

Keech, Bior


My name is Bior Keech; I was born in Bor County, South Sudan, a place that had been devastated by 22 years of civil war and where people are struggling to rebuild their lives daily. I am very fortunate to be one of group known as the lost Boys of Sudan, and the desert of Tucson, Arizona is my second home. I graduated from the University of Arizona with degrees in Agriculture Economics & Management and Business Economics. Besides playing Basketball, I was very involved in the extracurricular activities such as the African Students Association, the Economic Society, and Blue Chip program - a leadership development program that combines academic and extracurricular activities to build leadership skills and community services. I work as a refugees’ case manager with International Rescue Committee and volunteered at the Carter Center in South Sudan; where I administered voter registration in Bor, Jonglei State during the country’s first ever election. In these positions, I work with population from “3rd world” which gave me the understanding the struggles, needs and challenges of the people. These diverse experiences have brought me to a place where I want a career in specializing in development economics & public finances of lower and middle income countries and in transition economies, including working as policy analysts and decision-makers in government, international organizations, and the private sector. I intend to explore specific problem areas such as the application of quantitative and financial analysis to prepare me to help contributes toward South Sudan’s sustained development, or in other part of the developing world particularly in Africa, where lives are being lost in wars and children suffer when developing and transition decisions cannot be make by leaders.

Laouali, Rayanatou


Rayanatou is an international student from Niger. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Math & Statistics in 2012 from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also a Davis Scholar upon graduating in 2008 from one of the United World Colleges, Lester B. Pearson College in Victoria BC, Canada. She is one of the winners of the 100 Davis Projects for Peace in 2011. With the Davis Grant, she established a cooperative of women processing peanuts into oil and butter in Maradi/Niger. These experiences sparked her interest in international development. She is particularly interested in Economic Development and Education issues. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with my family and friends, writing poetry, cooking and gardening.

Moua, Chou


My name is Chou Moua, I was born and raised in Saint Paul. I graduated from the University of Minnesota majoring in Political Science and Asian Languages & Literatures with a concentration in International Relations. In 2006 I had the opportunity to study abroad at East China Normal University in Shanghai. Since then, I caught the travel bug and spent much time learning different languages and cultures in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. I have also spent much of my time working with local nonprofits in refugee assistance, youth development, and teaching languages. This past year, I have been an active volunteer with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) forming a union for Minnesota Home Healthcare Workers advocating for employment benefits as well as collective bargaining. I know that coming to Humphrey will give me the skills to pursue both my personal and professional aspirations. In my spare time I enjoy rock picking, pottery, Starcraft II, and traveling. I look forward to being a part of the Humphrey family.

Mueller, Kayla


Kayla is a second year Masters of Development Practice student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, pursuing a minor in evaluation studies with interests in nonprofit management and gender disparity. During her undergraduate career at Arcadia University, she majored in International Studies and Spanish with a minor in Economics. She spent a semester in Ecuador studying micro-finance opportunities and interning with an indigenous organization as well as a micro-credit cooperative. Afterwards, she completed a semester in southern Spain studying the EU and travelling throughout Europe. Previous to that, she conducted research and work in Mexico and Costa Rica. This past summer Kayla travelled to Nepal where she worked in community-based forestry management and value-chain analysis of forestry products.
Kayla is involved with the student body as the Treasurer for Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Development and was previously the MDP Representative within the Public Affairs Student Association. During her spare time she enjoys spending time by the lakes, watching hockey, and fostering animals.

Muench, David


My name is David Muench, and I am from San José, California. I graduated from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA in 2011, with a degree in Latin American Studies. My story, as it pertains to international development practice at the Humphrey school, started in 2005, on a summer night in Bemidji, MN. I was a student at a Spanish language and culture camp, and I participated in a simulation of the Cochabamba, Bolivia water riots of 2000. The simulation was creative and well-executed, and after seeing the interacting agents of a true crisis in development, I had discovered my passion. I couldn’t be happier to start studying International Development in Minnesota, the state that I love. The majority of my development experience comes from a semester abroad studying economic development and social justice in Managua, Nicaragua. On a theoretical level, I am most interested in ways to utilize cultural norms as agents of change in the political economy. In the future, I would like to work in the field of transportation infrastructure development, particularly to develop aviation infrastructural capacity around the world.

Sarode, Trupti

Email Address: sarod004@umn.edu

Trupti Sarode holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dental Surgery from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, India. Previously, she worked as a Researcher and Content Manager at Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, an independent foreign policy think-tank in Mumbai, India. Her research interests include global health, development and international affairs.

Saxena, Shruti


My name is Shruti Saxena and I am a first year MDP student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. I am from India, and have grown up in several cities across the country, finally settling in Noida, adjacent to Delhi. My previous degree was in Economics, and I have worked in the area of education and community development for several years. My work was focused on improving the quality of and access to education at schools in North India. I also used to lead student teams at colleges in North India on community outreach projects to tackle local social and economic concerns. I was involved in managing programs and facilitating volunteering at local non-profits, disaster relief efforts and internal awareness raising.

Shepard, Katie


I grew up in Apple Valley, MN and went on to major in mathematics at Grinnell College in Iowa. While there, I ran cross country and track and participated in multiple musical ensembles. I spent one semester abroad in Milan, Italy, taking a break from math and instead studying language, art and music. After graduation, I taught high school math and physics in a rural village in Lesotho for two years through the Peace Corps. It was there I realized I wanted to pursue higher education in international development rather than mathematics. I don’t know where I’ll choose to focus my studies, but I fell in love with Africa and definitely see myself going back.

Shoemake, Janelle


Janelle Shoemake, a Minnesota native, grew up traveling and at an early age was exposed to other cultures, traditions and languages. Janelle attended Moorhead State University Moorhead for one year studying International Relations, but the city was too small for her! The following summer she studied Arabic in Jordan for 6 weeks, and went to Heredia, Costa Rica immediately after to continue studying International Relations at Universidad Naciónal. She transferred to the U of MN and finished her degree in Global Studies with an emphasis of Human Rights and the Middle East. During her time at the U of MN Janelle was involved in the Human Rights Program, the Arabic Language and Culture Association, Humanity Against Torture, Child Protection International, African Student Association, interned with the Advocates for Human Rights, and spent two summers organizing volunteer trips to Kenya. Following her undergrad Janelle got her LL.M. in International Human Rights at St. Thomas University in Miami, FL. Janelle's academic interests include the rights based approach to development and water resource management. Janelle enjoys salsa dancing, cooking, eating, enjoying a beer and sleeping in her free time!

Stephan, Tai

Email Address: steph289@umn.edu

Tai Stephan is a Minnesota native with an undergraduate degree in finance from the Carlson School of Management. She has spent the last two years working in China with a sustainable consulting firm and as an economics teacher. As an MDP student, she is looking forward to earning a minor in natural resources science and management. After graduate school, Tai hopes to work internationally assisting conservation efforts through the development of sustainable livelihoods.

Traaseth, Amanda

Email Address: traas008@umn.edu

My name is Amanda Traaseth and I completed by Bachelors degrees at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in Political Science and Global Studies. My undergraduate studies contained a thematic focus of governance, peace, and justice with a regional focus in Eastern Africa. I previously held an internship at the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota, where I assisted in the implementation of a human rights curriculum for educators to address the expanding achievement gap in the Twin Cities area. During the last two years I have been working as a paralegal for an immigration law firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Venegas Swanson, Tatyana


My name is Tatyana Venegas Swanson. I graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Sociology and Russian. My senior summer I had the opportunity to volunteer in Uganda with two HIV/AIDS organizations. This experience opened my eyes to the complexities of the developing world and after graduation I spent the next three years as a Peace Corps Basic Sanitation Volunteer in Bolivia. I worked with various NGO’s to enhance the educational training components of their water-system and bathroom projects, which included strengthening the capacities of both the community and NGO facilitators. I also worked with the Mayor’s office of my village and various NGO’s to implement a bathroom project in my village. Upon my return to the states I moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where I became an environmental specialist with OASIS-ERM consulting. My primary duties involved coordination of BP Alaska’s environmental studies program and I provided technical assistance in wildlife compliance and waste compliance. Although these past four years have been extremely different from my Peace Corps experience, I’ve gained an insight into the broader environmental implications of large-scale projects and working within a regulated context. As an MDP student I hope to build upon my professional experiences to increase my skill set and my ability to make a concrete contribution to alleviating poverty through development.

Villagra Mostaceros, Diego

Email Address: villa169@umn.edu

My name is Diego Antonio Villagra Mostaceros. I was born and raised in Lima, Peru, but moved to Minnesota in 2010 as an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth. There I graduated summa cum laude and received a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies with minors in Communication and French. Today, I am seeking a Master of Development Practice at the University of Minnesota, where I am expectant and eager to share my knowledge and passion, as well as to acquire the necessary skills and tools in order to help my country, Peru, one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, bridge its wide economic divide and heal its deeply fractured society.

Von Qualen, Frieda

Email Address: vonqu001@umn.edu

I am a 2008 graduate of St. Olaf College with degrees in Religion and Political Science. Upon graduation, worked as a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Peru for two years and as the WASH Peace Corps Volunteer Coordinator in Lima for one year. Afterwards, I was a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fellow placed at the New Orleans Health Department, where I worked in strengthening family health programs and developing emergency response plans for the City. I am especially interested in learning about how addressing economic and social challenges can simultaneously impact public health in a community.

Walsh, Amy


Amy Walsh grew up in Iowa, and received her degree in Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2004. She attended medical school at the University of Minnesota before returning to Iowa for residency training in Emergency Medicine. This Masters is part of further specialized training in International Emergency Medicine that I am pursuing at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where I will work as an attending physician in their Emergency Department over the next two years.\nShe spent almost year during medical school working in Tanzania, and has also worked in health care in Israel, Haiti, and Vietnam. Her areas of interest are international medical education and improving the metrics used to judge success in international field work.\nThis summer, she married her new husband, Joe, whom she met playing Ultimate Frisbee, an activity that they both continue to love. She also runs, bikes (road and mountain), and occasionally camps and hikes when she can get away.

Yamoah, Evans

Email Address: yamoa001@umn.edu

My name is Evans Yamoah and I am from Rosemount, Minnesota. I have a Bachelor’s degree in French and I completed the Pre-Medicine Program at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. After undergrad, I volunteered with the Benedictine Volunteer Corps in Guatemala and Chicago.

Yodit, Tesfaye

Email Address: tesfa026@umn.edu

Yodit Tesfaye is a native Ethiopian who moved to Minnesota at a young age. She earned her B.A. in global studies with an emphasis on human rights as a first-generation student from the University of Minnesota:Twin Cities.Yodit's professional,research and volunteer experiences are centered around issues that impact immigrant and refugee populations by working with nonprofits and institutions that empower the communities through education, economic development and human rights advocacy,both locally and globally.Yodit currently works at Augsburg College in the East African Student to Teacher initiative - a program dedicated to diversifying the K-12 teaching workforce.Previously,she served as an AmeriCorps in Minnesota supporting low-income and underrepresented students gain admission to four-year institutions. Yodit's interests include social mobility of diaspora communities, sustainable development,culturally-appropriate policy implementation and ensuring the effectiveness of international policies that directly impact disadvantaged populations. The program’s multidisciplinary nature, distinguished faculty, location in a diverse community, revered research, practical fieldwork opportunities are what brought her back to pursue her Masters of Development Practice with a Public Policy minor at UMN.

Abebe, Surafel Theatre Arts and Dance Ethiopia
Chatterjee, Anindita Geography India
Chipindi, Ferdinand Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development Zambia
dos Santos Sao Bernardo, Ana Claudia Spanish and Portuguese Brazil
Farrell, Jessica History USA
Iyengar, Siddharth Ecology, Evolution and Behavior India
Ji, Seung-Gyeong Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Seoul, South Korea
Jimenez, Anthony Sociology USA
Malauene, Denise History Mozambique
Nguyen, Oanh Political Science USA
Nunez, Joanna Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies USA
Payne, Gabriale History USA
Pham, Quynh Political Science Vietnam
Portales, Cristy Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior USA
Sikenyi, Maurice Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development Kenya
Thumbran, Janeke History South Africa
Tun, Heider History Mexico
Vig, Paul History USA
Wauters, Vivian Applied Plant Science USA

Ghosh, Samarjit Political Science India

Global Food Security Fellows

Bowman, Melanie

Email Address: bowma271@umn.edu

Melanie isa PhD candidate in philosophy working in the area of feminist epistemology. Her dissertation addresses the relationship between knowledge and solidarity by examining how the privileged respond to recognition of their ignorance-- especially when that response involves extracting knowledge from the people they want to help. caution against the assumption that, since ignorance plays a central role in sustaining systems of oppression, more knowledge will be the solution. This is because I am concerned that cultural and institutional tendencies to treat knowledge like a commodity generate unreliable knowledge about the world and our places in it at the same time as they reinforce oppressive systems. My current focus is on the assumptions about knowledge at stake in attempts to repair the harm caused by wild rice research and crop development at the University of Minnesota (https://www.cfans.umn.edu/wildrice).

Boyer, Dana

Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy
Email Address: boyer120@umn.edu

Dana Boyer holds a Masters degree in Engineering (MPhil) from the University of Cambridge and Bachelors degrees in Environmental Engineering (BS) and German Studies (BA) from the University of Connecticut. She is currently a PhD student in the Sustainable Cities Group in the Center for Science Technology and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Pursuing an interdisciplinary degree combining policy, engineering, and industrial ecology, her work explores food provisioning in the context of urban development in India, China, and the United States. Her research analyzes urban food flows and the associated system-wide water and energy/greenhouse gas impacts from production all the way to consumption and waste management. The objective is to help cities ensure a sufficient supply of food, while minimizing environmental impact in the face of water and energy resource scarcity and concerns of greenhouse gas mitigation. Prior to Minnesota, Dana spent time working in India, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

Gray, Hannah

Email Address: grayx379@umn.edu
Country: USA

Hannah Gray grew in in Ann Arbor, Michigan and took a gap year to study and live in Mönchengladbach, Germany through the Congress-Bundesstag Youth Exchange Program. She returned to the U.S. and obtained her B.A. in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Studies from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A six-month study abroad program based out of Chiang Mai, Thailand opened her eyes to the abundance of interdisciplinary work to be done in the fields of agroecology and natural resource management. Currently as a PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology, Hannah conducts research on insect predation in agrocological settings both in Minnesota and Brasília, Brazil. Her interests encompass alternative pest management practices, solutions for smallholder growers, and knowledge transfer between diverse stakeholders.

Gunther, Matt

Email Address: gunth031@umn.edu

Matt hails from eastern Nebraska, where his previous work spanned the areas of community agriculture systems, plant pathology, and equitable rural development. He is now a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology studying efforts made by the USDA and regional NGOs to increase diversity in agriculture. His dissertation traces the parameters of rural community set by organizations that advocate for local governance over farming, agroecology, and food distribution. It asks whether food security can be made compatible with the notion of food sovereignty, and what kind of citizen-subjects might be cultivated in the process. 

Oesterle, Justine

Natural Resource Science
Email Address: oeste023@umn.edu

Justine Oesterle usually goes by JJ. She received her B.A in Environmental Science and Minor in Spanish at Pitzer College, Claremont, CA. At Pitzer, she managed The Grove House; a student run locally sourced café and meeting place for a variety of student groups.  Her academic work at Pitzer focused on soils and sustainable agriculture, including ecological and social issues. After graduation, Justine worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where she wrote programs to analyze and validate OCO-2 satellite data. Justine moved back to Minnesota in the summer of 2015 to pursue her interests in urban agriculture and work at Urban Organics, an aquaponics facility, and Urban Oasis, a non-profit in St. Paul. In the spring, she started as a full time Masters student in the UMN’s Natural Resource Science and Management Program. Justine is involved in projects at the UMN focused on innovative urban farming techniques and measuring the larger scale impact of local producers and vendors in the Twin Cities. She is currently working on developing a verification system for regenerative poultry production in Northfield, MN, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as well as, conducting surveys at farmers markets city wide with a group she helped start called the Data Harvest. In addition to getting her Masters, Justine teaches high school life sciences at a charter school with Spark-Y, a non-profit that empowers youth through science education and aquaponics.

Recent Global Food Security Fellows

Cira, Theresa

Email Address: cirax002@umn.edu
Country: USA

Theresa Cira grew up in Cedarburg, Wisconsin before getting a B.S. in Entomology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  Now a PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology, she sees the beauty, complexity, and abundance of insects as a source of endless wonder and exploration. Her dissertation research works to achieve more sustainable pest management through increased understanding of pest biology, surveys of all arthropods in agricultural systems, and exploration of alternative management tools. Through a minor in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Theresa is also exploring questions about how scientific research is applied to social and environmental problems via policy. Additionally, Theresa is passionate about communicating science to non-scientists and promoting interdisciplinary thinking and learning in higher education.

Eddens, Aaron

American Studies
Email Address: edden001@umn.edu
Country: USA

Department of American Studies

Research: “Climate-Smart” Seeds: Science, Property, and the Changing Landscape of International Agriculture (Sub-Saharan Africa)

Jung, Suhyun

Applied Economics

Department of Applied Economics

Research: To help us better understand the links between agricultural production, increasing global food demand, and carbon sequestration - the latter being a major consideration in tackling global warming.


Kang, Simrat

Gender, Woman, and Sexuality Studies
Email Address: kangx137@umn.edu
Country: USA

Simi is an Indian-American feminist scholar and anthropologist from the Twin Cities. She received her B.A. in cultural anthropology and creative writing from the University of St. Thomas in 2011. Simi's work asks how Vietnamese-American foodways and food practices directly impact the relationship between refugeeism and disaster in New Orleans, emphasizing the significance of racial, social, and economic discourses that constitute citizenship through the exclusion of Vietnamese New Orlineans. Further, she asks how Vietnamese New Orleanians rearticulate the term “refugee” post-Katrina, Rita, and BP oil disaster, positioning it not as a transitory identity, but as an everyday experience that is centrally and repeatedly remade through the production, consumption, visibility, and distribution of Vietnamese New Orleanian food.

Liebman, Alex

Department of Horticultural Sciences, Applied Plant Science
Email Address: aliebman@umn.edu
Country: USA

Alex Liebman is pursing a PhD in agroecology in the Applied Plant Sciences program within the Department of Horticultural Sciences. He received a B.A. in biology from Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota in 2012. He uses the lens of agroecology – in its biological, political, and economic dimensions – to explore nutrient cycling in agroecosystems and its relation to food sovereignty and ecological conservation. By employing a variety of laboratory and conceptual methods, he researches aboveground-belowground relationships in agroecosystems and their implications for nutrient cycling. He is currently working on a project quantifying the contribution of leguminous cover crops to soil organic matter pool. In fall 2016 he will be researching the effects of pasture diversification in grazed agroforestry systems on soil carbon in Colombia as a U.S. Borlaug Global Food Security Fellow. Lastly, he is developing an interdisciplinary component to his work that studies how agro-ecological processes and farmer livelihoods are linked to the political ecology of land-use. He specifically wants to explore the ways in which agronomic research is practiced, how scientific knowledge about agriculture is disseminated, and how historical and ideological trends shape the questions agronomic research asks today.

Wilson, Brian

Email Address: wils1207@umn.edu
Country: USA

Department of Philosophy

Research: Food security is a right for all individuals. An individual’s well-being should not be barred by food insecurity.

My dissertation makes a theoretical argument for the above statements and goes on to provide a guide to action informed by that theory.  My food accessibility research in Bolivia is a practical case study of the implementation of this philosophical theory.

Springer, Emily

Email Address: spri0075@umn.edu
Country: USA

Emily Springer is a PhD hopeful in Sociology. She is interested in the intersection of evaluation, organizations, and women's empowerment in international development contexts. Emily holds a masters in International Education Policy from Harvard University and a bachelors degree in African Studies and International Studies from Ohio State University. She has experience in monitoring and evaluation, strategic planning, development research, and program management in the US, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone.