Class of 2021
Jordan Bekenstein is from Richmond, Virginia. He studied Russian at Amherst College, and spent a semester abroad in Moscow through Middlebury. He wrote his senior thesis on the Soviet Man and the reconstruction of Moscow in the 1930s. After graduation, he traveled the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and later spent a year and a half teaching English in Harbin, China. He is interested in Sino-Russian cooperation and competition, economic development in Russia’s Far East and China’s northeast, and political legitimacy.
Alex Clark is originally from New Jersey and a recent graduate of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. An avid reader and traveler, Alex is highly interested in doing business in Russia and what the business environment will look like for that country in the coming years given the environment of sanctions and so forth. He hopes to work in the private or nonprofit sector to analyze how climate change will impact Russia’s political economy.
Seth Farkas is from upstate New York and completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University in Russian Language & Culture and Neuroscience & Behavior. His past research has centered around contemporary Russian political discourse, particularly in relation to national narratives and Russian foreign policy. He has professional experience working with data analysis and visualization and enjoys incorporating this into his regional research when possible. At Georgetown, Seth has focused on topics including Russian interests and foreign policy in Latin America, Russian and Central Asian energy issues, and protests in the region. More broadly, he is interested in political discourse and communication, security, nationalism, and language politics in Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. You can catch him ranting about the subjunctive, Slavic aspectology, and genitive semantics on the side as well.
Kate Himonas is from Salt Lake City, Utah. She graduated with honors from Macalester College in 2018. Between graduating and starting at Georgetown, she took a year to travel while working at hostels and on vineyards. She is particularly interested in questions of food distribution/food studies in the region.
Nick Kulawiak graduated from University of Puget Sound in 2018 with degrees in Politics & Government and History. During Summer 2017, he conducted archival research at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the Open Society Archives in Budapest, investigating Polish media portrayals of Radio Free Europe. Prior to coming to Georgetown, he traveled through Eastern Europe and the Middle East, volunteering in hostels in Warsaw and the Golan Heights. Currently, Nick is pursuing a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies. His main academic interests lie in historical memory and identity in Poland, the status of migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Visegrad Four relations with Balkan countries, though he has also written at least one paper on surrealist orange dwarf protest imagery in 1980s Poland.
Ryan Kurz is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from the Ohio State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in International Relations and Diplomacy and minors in Public Policy and Russian. Professionally, Ryan has interned with the Washington office of Ohio Senator Rob Portman and the Columbus Council on World Affairs. While at Georgetown, Ryan is interested in researching US-Russian relations, great power competition over Central and Eastern Europe, and political disinformation.
Elizabeth Lewis is from Draper, Utah and graduated from Rhodes College with degrees in Political Science and Russian Studies. After college, she spent one year teaching at Belarus State University in Minsk, Belarus as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Now at Georgetown, she intends to get a certificate in Diplomatic Studies. At Georgetown, Elizabeth is interested in the way conceptualizations of nationalism have developed in Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Eleanor Lopatto is from Grinnell, Iowa. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2017 with a degree in Chemistry and Modern Languages and Literatures, specializing in Russian and French. After moving to Washington, D.C., Eleanor worked as an intern for the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, and later as an administrator and event coordinator for the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA). Outside of CERES, she provides briefings on domestic terror for the National Security Action network. Eleanor’s research interests include online disinformation and radicalization, tech regulation, and the effect of social media on international security issues.
Maia is from Tbilisi, Georgia and recently graduated from Clark University, MA where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics. During her senior year at Clark, Maia completed honors theses for both of her majors and received double highest honors after defending them. Maia’s thesis in Political Science analyzed the effect of energy dependence on foreign policy strategies of the former Soviet Union states while her Economics thesis focused on carbon tax policy and climate change mitigation. At Georgetown, Maia is working towards earning a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Her research interests include business dynamics in Eurasia, energy and environment in Eurasia, and conflict resolution strategies in the Caucasus.
Alex Perez-Reyes is from Charlottesville, Virginia and received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in 2017. As a government and Russian double major in the College, his research interests focused mainly on the politics of historical memory in post-communist countries, with a focus on Poland and Ukraine. After graduation, Alex served as a Student Ambassador to the 2017 Astana Expo in Kazakhstan and subsequently returned to Georgetown to work in academic administration and university services. Alex also interned at the Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Program as a Russian Research Assistant in the Spring of 2017. After graduating from CERES, Alex intends to apply for a research Fulbright to study the dynamics of historical memory in southeastern Poland in order to better guide his further academic pursuits.
Krysia Sikora grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Duke University with a degree in Political Science and a certificate in Policy Journalism and Media Studies. Following graduation, she moved to Poland for two years to play professional soccer and learn more about her Polish heritage. In addition to her soccer career she studied Polish at Maria Curie Skłodowska University in Lublin. In CERES, Krysia has focused her studies on the rise of authoritarianism, and is particularly interested in how authoritarian and populist regimes utilize conspiracy theories and distort memory to advance their political agenda. At Georgetown, Krysia is also pursuing a certificate in Diplomatic Studies through the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
Soren Smallwood is from Washington, D.C., and graduated from Carleton College with a degree in Russian. She studied abroad at Moscow State University for a semester, and spent a summer as an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. She is interested in gender relations and demographic issues in Russia.
Vladyslav Stegniy was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. He graduated from Taras Shevchenko National University, Kyiv, Ukraine in June 2018 with a M.A. in Political Science. During his M.A. studies, he interned with the Hudson Institute’s Center for Political Military Analysis and the I.F. Kuras Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. His research focuses on international security and military affairs in the Eurasia region.
Matthew Wisneski is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2019 with a degree in Political Science and Russian. He had the opportunity to spend summer 2018 studying Russian language in Moscow, and realized he wanted to incorporate Russia into his career. Among other things, he is interested in Russian-American relations, Russian foreign policy, and the interaction of religion and politics between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church. Additionally, Matthew is pursuing a Certificate in Diplomatic Studies through the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
Class of 2022
Evaristo Capalla is from Los Angeles, California and graduated from UCLA in June 2019 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Russian Studies. As a senior, he studied abroad in Almaty, Kazakhstan where he also interned at the Legal Policy Research Center, a think tank dedicated to promoting the rule of law. At Georgetown, Evaristo is interested in researching Russian foreign policy, U.S.-Russian relations, and national identity formation in post-Soviet states.
Tina Dolbaia comes from Tbilisi, Georgia. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Tbilisi State University. She graduated at the top of her class in 2017 and shortly afterwards was hired as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist by Chemonics International for the USAID-funded economic development project
based in Tbilisi. At Georgetown, within the MAERES program, Tina seeks to examine political activism and social movement mobilization within the post-Soviet space.
Kate Flaherty is from Acton, Massachusetts and completed her undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College in Russian & Eurasian Studies/Latin American Studies. She spent two summers interning at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian & Eurasian studies. Her work involved being an assistant editor for the Journal for Cold War Studies as well as being a research assistant specializing in Russian/Western/NATO relations, Russian security policy in the Balkans, and neutrality & nonalignment in Yugoslav policy. She hopes to pursue further study in Russian security & foreign policy in the Balkans, as well as complete a certificate in Latin American Studies.
Anna Jantzen is originally from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She graduated with honors from Colby College in 2020, where she majored in Russian and Classics. She spent her junior spring studying in total immersion in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Since June of 2019, she has interned with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, working as an analyst on their Foreign Influence – Election 2020 Project, which tracks and analyzes coverage of the U.S. election in the English-language state-sponsored media outlets of Russia, Iran, and China, with the purpose of combatting disinformation. Some of her research interests include information warfare, U.S.–Russia relations, language politics, authoritarianism and religious nationalism.
Although originally from the United Kingdom, Percy Metcalfe attained his bachelor’s degree from the Georgetown School Foreign Service in 2019. His major was “International Culture and Politics” with a certificate from the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies. Since graduation, Percy completed a Fulbright research award in Warsaw, where he studied the U.S.-Polish relationship, while also helping to launch and manage the website for Notes from Poland, the premier source of independent news about Poland in English. Percy returns to the SFS as a dual degree student: he is simultaneously working towards a JD at the Law Center. His interests focus on Poland, particularly its (non)compliance with the EU’s rule of law requirements and rights for LGBTQ people in that country.
Jessica Meyerzon is originally from Seattle, Washington. She graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Foreign Languages (Russian/Spanish). After graduating, she spent one year teaching at Baranovichi State University in Baranovichi, Belarus as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. She has also worked for American Councils for International Education, where she was a participant recruiter for their Future Leaders Exchange program (FLEX) in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Estonia. Jessica has also worked at the University of Washington in Seattle as the Outreach Coordinator of the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies and the Center for West European Studies. At Georgetown, Jessica is working towards a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. Her academic and professional interests include U.S.-Russia relations, public diplomacy, international education, and business relations in Eurasia.
Yanliang Pan is originally from Beijing, China. As an undergraduate student at Georgetown, he majored in Regional Studies with a focus on East Asia and the post-Soviet space. His past research has dealt with diverse questions ranging from the propaganda strategy of Russian state media to the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on Central Asia. In terms of career paths, he hopes to work in Russia, particularly in the field of international development or journalism.
Kollen Post was born and raised in West Michigan. He studied English and Arabic at Vanderbilt University, beginning Russian only after he’d come back from a study-abroad program in Jordan. After graduating in 2015, he spent two years teaching English in Moscow. Currently he lives in D.C. and reports on regulation of emerging financial technologies. His research interests include Russian engagement in the Middle East, illicit financing, asymmetrical warfare and how tech is changing international relations.
Haifeng “Harry” Qiu is originally from Shanghai, China. He received his bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College in 2020 with a double major in Russian and International Studies. During his junior year, Harry spent a semester studying in Moscow and cultivated an interest in Central Asia while there. His past research experience focused on China’s connections with the post-Soviet Union countries. At Georgetown, Harry also intends to earn a certificate in Asian Studies, and he has developed an interest in political economy of the two regions.
Michael Robinson grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with majors in International Studies, German Studies, and Russian Studies, with a minor in History. Following his graduation, he was hired at the Defense Contract Management Agency via the Workforce Recruitment Program. Now an eager member of the MAERES 2022 cohort, Michael aims to study the causes and effects of various separatist and assimilation efforts in the Former Soviet Union, as well as resolution strategies for regional frozen conflicts.
Keegan Scott, originally from Delta, Ohio, is a 2016 graduate from The Ohio State University where he received his B.A. in International Studies with a minor in Turkish. After graduation, he taught English in the Caucasus region with the year-long Teach and Learn Georgia program. Subsequently, he received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Galabovo, Bulgaria where he continued his passion for cultural exchange for 3 years. His research interests lie at the intersection of Turkish foreign policy, and soft power through educational exchange. Outside of CERES, Keegan interns with EducationUSA Turkey.
Elise Skipper grew up across seven different states and two continents. This diverse upbringing instilled in her a love of people, language and culture. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida, she received her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish with a minor in Russian and International Relations. After graduating from university, she interned for both the Department of Defense and the Department of State, domestically and abroad. She currently hopes to focus her time at Georgetown on Russian Security Studies and Russian Linguistics with the goal of working abroad with her young family.
Sydnee Wilke is from Davidson, North Carolina and completed her undergraduate degree from the Ohio State University with a double major in International Studies and Russian. After completing a study abroad in Moscow and writing her undergraduate thesis on Russia, she wanted to continue and expand her studies of the area. Her research interests include soft power diplomacy, the Caucasus, and the Baltics. She hopes to one day pursue a career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer or in the field of international development.