WIIS was pleased to host the 2017 WPS+GPS Next Generation Symposium participants. Participants were selected through an international competition in which over 400 Masters and PhD students competed for 25 positions. WIIS was encouraged by the relatively large percentage of men (22) applying for the Symposium.

The 25 participants (20 women and 5 men) were selected from many different regions around the world, including Africa, North America, Europe, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Australia.

The four-day WPS+GPS Next Generation Symposium took place November 13-16, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Over the course of the four days, participants examined international security challenges from a gender perspective and discussed recent trends in research. They also participated in professional development and skills workshops as they met with members of the U.S. government, international organizations, NGOs, and think tanks.

An overview of the Next Generation Symposium participants:

  • Gender: 20 participants are women and 5 are men. This figure is approximate to the percentages of women and men who applied to participate in the Symposium 78 and 22 respectively.
  • Education: 21 participants are pursuing, or have recently completed, their PhD, and 4 are current or recent Master’s students.
  • Age Range: Participation in the Symposium was limited to young leaders between the ages of 24 and 40. Four participants are ages 24-29, 16 are ages 30-35, and 5 are ages 36-40.
  • Regional Representation: We received hundreds of applications from all over the world, resulting in a truly international cohort. 6 participants are from Africa, 6 are from North America, 5 are from Europe, 5 are from South or Southeast Asia, 2 are from the Middle East and North Africa, and 1 is from Australia.




Julio C. Alvarado

MA in International Relations
Tufts University, United States (2017)

MA in International Relations
University of Nevada – Las Vegas, United States (2006)


Julio was born in El Salvador during Salvadoran civil war of the 1980s. He emigrated to the United States and was raised in south central Los Angeles, California in the backdrop of the Los Angeles riots and street gang violence. At age 17, Julio enlisted into the US Army. He graduated from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas as a distinguished military graduate, earning a commission as an active duty infantry officer. He completed multiple military courses, including the rigorous Ranger School, the U.S. Army’s premier leadership course. Julio led a rifle platoon during a twelve-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he and his troops conducted counter-insurgency operations by assisting Iraqi forces, securing local populace, and capturing high ranking insurgents. He was awarded the Bronze Star during this deployment. Julio went on to serve in 82nd Airborne Division and was placed in command of an Infantry Rifle Company with over 130 Paratroopers. His strong leadership garnered him a second opportunity to command, this time in a Headquarters Company with over 240 Paratroopers. Julio completed his command in the top 25 percent of company commanders in his Brigade. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. His thesis work will focus on human and illicit drug trafficking from Central America to the United States and the associated security and geopolitical risks.
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Pearl Karuhanga Atuhaire

PhD Candidate in Peace and Conflict Studies
Durban University of Technology, South Africa

MA in International Relations and Diplomatic Studies
Makerere University, Uganda (2012)

BA in Development Studies
Makerere University, Uganda (2006)


Pearl is a women’s rights advocate and a champion for gender equality. She is currently working with UN Women in Liberia as a Programme Specialist for Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). Pearl previously worked with the Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the advancement of women (EASSI) on issues of women, peace, security and humanitarian affairs. Working with refugees in the Kyaka II refugee settlement in western Uganda, Pearl initiated an empowerment project called “Mume Kwa Muke” to reduce SGBV against refugee women. She has also published research on issues of gender, peace, and security. Pearl was a Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders in 2016 as part of training that she undertook in the United States. She is also an alumna of the Coady International Institute in Canada, where she undertook a course in Community Development Leadership.
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Ava Patricia Avila

PhD in Defense and Security
Cranfield University, United Kingdom (2017)

MS in Development Administration
University of Southeastern Philippines, Philippines (2010)

BA in Behavioral Studies
University of the Philippines Mindanao, Philippines (2002)


Born and raised in Mindanao, Philippines, Avila previously worked with groups that organized women and young people across the Southern Philippines to build awareness on the role of gender in peace and development. Based in Singapore for over a decade, Avila joined the research staff of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in 2007 where she focused on political violence and terrorism. In 2011, she joined the National Institute of Education in Singapore. Avila is active with “The Mission Continues”, an American non-profit that focuses on veterans and empowering them to find purpose through community impact. Her published articles have concentrated on Philippine defense and development policy, as well as on broader matters of security in Southeast Asia. Her PhD thesis evaluated the contribution of the Philippines defense sector to national development, and in turn, comprehensive security. She is working on transforming her thesis into a book.
Ibrahim Bahati

Ibrahim Bahati

Msc Candidate in Rural Community Development
American University of Beirut, Lebanon (2017)

MA in Gender Studies
Makerere University, Uganda (2016/2017)

BA in Development Economics
Makerere University, Uganda (2011)


Ibrahim is a MasterCard Foundation Scholar and a Master’s candidate in Rural Community Development at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon). Previously, he worked as a co-instructor for Gender and Development at the School for International Training in Uganda; a gender specialist for Girls in School Initiative – Uganda, an organization that aims to promote the agency of Ugandan men in girl’s education; and a voluntary communications expert with NGOs in Kampala. Ibrahim has taken courses on gender equality at the University of Oslo in Norway and he has received training by UN Women on “Care Economy.” His thesis examines how masculinities among refugee communities in Kampala are changing. He is also a recent Climate Tracker’s Online Fossil Fuel Fellow and a YaLa Academy Citizen Journalism African Fellow. Ibrahim is currently a contributing writer focusing on climate change, race geopolitics, violence and masculinities, and his previous article “Today’s Survivors Could be Tomorrow’s ‘Enemies”’ has appeared in CounterPunch, Huntington News, and Peacevoice. His research interests include the subjects of masculinities and how they have helped in the conceptualization and understanding of gender dynamics in times of conflict, gender and sexual based violence, and rural development and food security. Ibrahim is also a voluntary advisory Board Member of the Global Education Conference Network.
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Phoebe Donnelly

PhD Candidate in International Relations
Tufts University, United States

MA in Law and Diplomacy
Tufts University, United States (2013)

BA in Political Science
University of Wisconsin Madison, United States (2008)


Phoebe is a PhD Candidate in International Relations and a fellow at the Institute for Human Security at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Phoebe’s dissertation examines the gendered strategies of non-state armed organizations with case studies focusing on al-Shabaab (in Somalia and Kenya) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (in Uganda). She is also a researcher at the Feinstein International Center and part-time lecturer at Tufts University where she is teaching an undergraduate class on gender and conflict in international relations in the fall of 2017. Phoebe is also part of a team working on a research project for the UN Development Program (UNDP) on women and violent extremism in Africa. Before starting her PhD program, Phoebe was the Associate Director of the Consortium on Gender, Security, and Human Rights at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She also has policy experience through her work as a legislative correspondent for Senator Richard Blumenthal and as an intern for the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Mission to the UN.
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Jennifer Philippa Eggert

PhD Candidate in Politics and International Studies
University of Warwick, United Kingdom

MSc in Comparative Politics / Conflict Studies
London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom (2012)

BA in Social and Cultural Studies
European University Viadrina, Germany (2007)


Jennifer is an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, and a PhD candidate and Seminar Tutor at the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. She was previously a Visiting Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Jennifer’s current research focuses on female members of armed militias operating during the Lebanese civil war. She has also published articles and reports on women fighting for the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Jennifer regularly speaks and writes on women and extremism, the prevention of terrorism, and intercultural relations. She also works as a facilitator of counter-extremism and community engagement trainings. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked in counter-extremism, intercultural dialogue and civic education in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia, for international cultural centers, an international organization, a think tank as well as local and international NGOs.
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Weronika Grzebalska

PhD Candidate in Sociology
Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

MA in Sociology
University of Warsaw, Poland (2010)


Weronika is currently a Junior Researcher at the The Polányi Centre at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Hungary and a PhD candidate in Sociology at the Graduate School for Social Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. Weronika’s work focuses on militarism, national security, and right-wing politics seen from a gender perspective. Her PhD project explores the recent processes of societal militarization in Central Europe against the background of the broader crisis of neoliberal governmentality. In 2013, she published a book “Płeć powstania warszawskiego” [Gender of the Warsaw Uprising] which dealt with gendered politics of armed resistance during World War 2 in Poland. Her work has appeared in Gendered Wars, Gendered Memories (Routledge 2016) and Gender: War (Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks, 2017). She is a board member of the Polish Gender Studies Association and a member of FEPS Young Academics Network.
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Umm-e Habiba

PhD Candidate in Pakistan Studies
Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan

MPhil in Pakistan Studies
Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan (2016)

MSc in International Relations
Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan (2012)

BBA in General Studies
Allama Iqbal Open University


Umm-e Habiba is a PhD candidate at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. She is a feminist social scientist and student of international relations, with a focus on social justice, human rights, gender equality, and socio-political diversity. Since 2014, Umm-e has been working as a visiting lecturer at Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi where she teaches Human Rights and Pakistan Studies. Between 2015 and 2016, she served in faculties of various government colleges in Islamabad, Pakistan. Her research interests include South Asian maritime security, gender issues, and Pakistani foreign relations. For more than five years, Umm-e worked as a freelance writer and researcher with the Directorate of Public Relations for the Pakistan Navy. During this period, she published many articles in local and international print media on topics ranging from maritime security to domestic issues in Pakistan.
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Dina Hussein

MA in International Law
SOAS University of London, United Kingdom (2016)

BA in International Affairs
The George Washington University, United States (2011)


Dina is a policy and advocacy specialist working in the fields of gender, transitional justice, and security. She has extensive experience researching and reporting in the Middle East and North Africa region, having been based in Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait. As a scholar, Dina has covered conflict, post-conflict transitions, and violence against women in Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, and the Saini. She has worked extensively on gender perspectives in transition in post-Arab Spring North Africa. Dina previously worked on mapping the effects of terrorism and counter-terrorism policy on human rights in Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Her research has been supported by grants from Chevening scholarship, the Women’s Centre for International Security and the Thompson Reuter’s Fund. Dina has also worked for Democracy International, UN Women, Thompson Reuters and Amnesty International.
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Urban Jakša

PhD Candidate in Politics
University of York, United Kingdom

MA in Political Science
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (2013)

BA in International Relations
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (2010)


Urban is a final year PhD Candidate in International Politics at the University of York and an expert fellow at the Polish Institute for International Affairs (PISM). He recently completed a Fulbright visiting scholarship (2016-17) at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. Urban is currently researching frozen conflicts involving de facto states. His research interests are wide and include theories of international security (especially ontological security and human security), as well as foreign and security policy in the post-Soviet space. Before starting his doctoral studies, Urban worked as a research fellow at the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) in Yerevan, as Editor-in-Chief of the International Association for Political Science Students’ Politikon journal, and worked in NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division in Brussels HQ. At NATO he was part of the working group on Building Integrity and on Women, Peace and Security. He worked with Mari Skåre, the first NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace, and Security and helped to organize a conference that brought together – for the first time in history – NATO representatives and representatives of non-government organizations involved in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325. He has published several articles and two book chapters in edited monographs by Routledge and Springer in 2017. Urban recently spoke at conferences and seminars at Columbia University, New York University, the London School of Economics, the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, UCLA, the University of Virginia, and Charles University.
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Katelyn Jones

PhD in Political Science
University of Wisconsin Madison, United States (2017)

MA in Political Science
University of Wisconsin Madison, United States (2012)

BA in Government
Georgetown University, United States (2011)


Katelyn is a Term Assistant Professor of International Relations at Barnard College. Her research draws on political theory, feminist theory, and international relations to answer questions about power and identity in international politics. She is particularly interested in using gender as an analytic to study deliberation in the context of international institutions.
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Jocelyn Kelly

PhD in Population, Family, and Reproductive Health
Johns Hopkins University, United States (2017)

MSc in Population and International Health
Harvard University, United States (2008)

BA in Cognitive Science
Johns Hopkins University, United States (2002)


Jocelyn is a social scientist who specializes in examining gendered issues in fragile states. She has conducted research on violence and social outcomes using qualitative and quantitative research methods for over ten years both in national and international settings. Jocelyn gave briefings related to gender and security to the UN Security Council, the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the World Bank, the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. Her current research interests include promoting women’s rights in fragile states and countering human trafficking.
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Hamoon Khelghat-Doost

PhD Candidate in Political Science
National University of Singapore, Singapore

MA in Communication Studies
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia (2012)

BA in English Language and Literature Studies
Universiti Sains Malaysia (2007)


Hamoon is a Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Political Science at National University of Singapore (NUS) and a recipient of the NUS Doctoral Research Fellowship. His research interests concern the intersection of gender and political violence in the Middle East, focusing on the roles and contributions of women in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Conducting research and working in Southeast Asia for more than a decade, Hamoon is well-versed on the subject of terrorism threats in the region. He conducted research on the links between the terrorist movements in the Middle East and their counterparts in Southeast Asia. His latest article is scheduled for publication in the autumn issue of the Middle East Journal. Some of his other works on counter-terrorism issues have been published in the Journal of Perspective on Terrorism, the Journal of Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis, Women In International Security, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, the Central European Journal of International and Security Studies, the Journal of International Security Affairs and The Singapore-Middle East Paper Series issued by the Middle East Institute-NUS. His other areas of interest and research include gender and jihadi terrorism, counter-terrorism and security studies, counterinsurgency, jihadi militarism, domestic and foreign policies of Iran, and the politics of the Middle East, Arab and Southeast Asian states.

Mwanga Mastullah Ashah

PhD Candidate in Human Rights and Gender
Makerere University, Uganda

MA in Human Rights
Makerere University, Uganda (2015)

BA in Law
Makerere University, Uganda (2014)

BA in Development Studies
Makerere University, Uganda (2008)


Mwanga is a Ugandan lawyer, development worker, and human rights activist. She is the founding Executive Director of the Islamic Women’s Initiative for Justice Law and Peace (IWILAP) and a lecturer in human rights law at Makerere University. She also lectures on criminal justice at Busitema University in Uganda. Mwanga is passionate about human rights, peace, security, and the situation of women. She understands that proactively including gender in the field of security and post-conflict reconstruction is critical to building resilient societies. This motivated her to establish IWILAP and advocate for the full implementation of subsequent resolutions on gender-based violence, for greater gender diversity in political leadership and within security forces, and for increased women’s participation in peace processes both at local and regional levels. Mwanga’s work has covered several fields including women’s rights, gender justice, peacebuilding, conflict analysis and post conflict reconstruction, migration and diaspora engagement, and local power and access to services. She has worked extensively with individuals, organizations, and networks in Uganda, East Africa, and Central Asia. Mwanga was also selected as a global change leader by the Coady International Institute, housed by the International Center for Women’s Leadership at the St. Francis Xavier University in Canada.
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Sayed Mahdi Mosawi

PhD Candidate in Sociology
Hacettepe University, Turkey

MA in Social Sciences Research
Ferdowsi University, Iran (2012)

BA in Social Sciences Research
Ferdowsi University, Iran (2009)


Sayed is a sociology PhD candidate at the Hacettepe University of Turkey. His dissertation deals with Afghan masculine honor, violence, and gender inequality in the post-conflict situation of Afghanistan. For the past five years, he worked in a range of research positions and contributed to various research projects that analyze women’s rights and gender issues in a fragile, traditional, Islamic, and multi-ethnic context. As an Afghan citizen, he has seen firsthand the effects of gender inequality, violence against women and girls, and conflict in the Afghan setting. Sayed’s first work on gender, Challenges of Engaging Afghan Men in Gender Equality: A Case Study in Kabul, was presented at the “International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality” in New York in March 2015. He was also awarded the American Men’s Studies Association (AMSA) Frankel Memorial Scholarship in 2015. Sayed has been involved in studies and projects including “International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES)” in Afghanistan, “Gender-Based Violence amongst Conflict-induced Internally Displaced Boys and Girls in Kabul City,” “Harmful Traditional Practices and its Impact on Development Programs,” “Afghan Masculinities, Gender Inequality and Violence,” as well as research on “Gender and Governance” with the Governance Forum Afghanistan (Govern4Afg). He holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Sciences Research from Ferdowsi University in Iran.
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Janakan Muthukumar

LLM Candidate in International Law
Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

MA in Human Rights and Democratization
University of Sydney, Australia (2015)

University of Wales, United Kingdom (2012)


Janakan is a Master’s candidate in International Law at the Queen Mary University of London. His research focuses on armed conflicts, humanitarian intervention, and international law on the use of force. He is also affiliated with the Department of Law at the University of Jaffna in the capacity of a Law Lecturer and an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. Janakan is a human rights activist, writer, and a community organizer. He was a Legislative Fellow for the U.S. Department of State, an Asia Pacific Candidate for a scholarship offered by the European Union, and a Chevening Scholar. Janakan was featured in the Economist’s Global Diversity List 2015, a list of 50 professionals who have made careers out of the practice of diversity and inclusion.

Carolyne Wambui Njihia

PhD Candidate in Development Studies
St. Paul’s University, Kenya

MA in Peace and Conflict
Kenyatta University, Kenya (2013)

BA in Sociology and Psychology
Kenyatta University, Kenya (2009)


Carolyne is a Doctoral candidate at St. Paul’s University in Nairobi, Kenya pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies. She works on peacebuilding and conflict management within East Africa in a humanitarian context. She has over seven years of experience in peace work in both government and civil society. She was previously a cohesion officer with Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to promote peaceful coexistence and harmonious living among Kenyans. Carolyne also worked with Kenyan civil society under the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, where she was involved in the promotion of peace dialogue through the use of religious institutions. Since 2016, she has been working with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to assist national organizations in eastern Africa in accessing grants to carry out justice, peace and governance work. Carolyne is currently responsible for developing proposals and projects for major institutional donors as well as monitoring and evaluation of the various projects. Carolyne has worked with many NGO’s inlcuding the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) and Trocaire.
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Grace Nyambura Ndirangu

MSc Candidate in Governance, Peace, and Security
African Nazarene University, Kenya

BA in Sociology
Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya (2009)


Grace is a Master of Science candidate studying Governance, Peace and Security at the African Nazarene University in Nairobi, Kenya. She is an experienced practitioner in humanitarian work with eight years of experience focused on case management, livelihood projects, and psychosocial programs. She currently works as the Livelihood Program Manager at HIAS Refugee Trust Kenya, and coordinates with urban refugees from the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region in Africa living in Nairobi since 2010. Grace was involved in the design and implementation of a Sharia-compliant saving and loaning model for use by refugees from the Horn of Africa, as well as a model of livelihood that focuses on building social enterprises as a measure to build resilience among refugees and asylum seekers living in Kenyan urban areas. She also does volunteer work during her free time with a local foundation where she works with youth refugees in grant writing to support local initiatives, provides mentorship for young girls, and offers training for local groups in loans, savings, and craft-making.
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Mohamed Osman Muhumed

PhD Candidate in Governance and Regional Integration
Pan African University, Cameroon

MA in Peace and Security Studies
Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (2015)

BA in Global Studies and International Relations
New Generation University College, Ethiopia (2009)


Mohamed is a PhD candidate in Governance and Regional Integration at the Pan African University in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Mohamed’s PhD dissertation is focused on conflict and regional integration in Africa, through which he hopes to examine security, strategy, and political issues hindering the regional integration process of the Horn of Africa into the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Mohamed’s research interests include exploring the nexus between governance, security, and social disparities. He has extensive experience in programming, researching, and teaching on topics related to peace, security, and development. Mohamed worked on these issues with governments, non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and academia in Ethiopia and Somalia.
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Farhana Rahman

PhD Candidate in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

MPhil in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (2014)

BA in Peace and Conflict Studies & International Relations
University of Toronto, Canada (2011)


Farhana is a PhD candidate and a Cambridge International Trust Scholar at the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge. She has several years of experience in the gender and development sector, working internationally for organizations in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Uganda, and Zambia. Farhana presently provides consulting services for various gender equality projects in the Global South. In 2015, she helped to establish the first academic program in gender studies in Afghanistan, based at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where she was also an instructor.
Velomahanina photo

Velomahanina T. Razakamaharavo

PhD Candidate in International Conflict Analysis
University of Kent, United Kingdom

MA in Marketing and Communications Management
University of Savoy, France and Institut Supérieur de la Communication des Affaires et du Management, Madagascar (2010) 

BA in Management, Option Marketing, and Communications
University of Savoy, France and Institut Supérieur de la Communication des Affaires et du Management, Madagascar (2009)

BA in American Studies
University of Antananarivo, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Human Sciences, Madagascar (2005)


Velomahanina is currently a PhD Researcher in International Conflict Analysis at the Brussels School of International Studies at the University of Kent. She primarily works on the dynamics of conflict recurrence and conflict transformation in Madagascar. She is a former Intern of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support serving the Policy and Best Practices team. There she worked on various projects covering all aspects of UN peacekeeping operations, including asymmetric threats, violent extremism, children in armed conflicts/child protection, protection of civilians, civil affairs, intelligence, gender, policy and best practices, and non-state armed groups. As a Visiting Fellow at the Center on Conflict Development and Peacebuilding at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, she worked on the processes of de-escalation of conflict stages in Madagascar. At the Université Catholique de Louvain’s Center for Political Science and Comparative Politics, Velomahanina has worked to improve the methodology used in the European Union-funded PEACE-COM project to fit a research design that will unveil causal paths and processes behind conflict recurrence in African case studies (the case of Madagascar). She also worked as a Teaching Assistant in Comparative Research Design for the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).
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Luisa Ryan

PhD Candidate in Political Science and International Studies
University of Queensland, Australia

MA in Journalism and Mass Communications
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, United States (2011)

BA in Political Science, French, and Spanish
University of Queensland, Australia (2002)


Luisa is a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, studying the ramifications of the UN Force Intervention Brigade in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She is currently on leave from her position as the Policy and Best Practices Officer of the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Congo (MONUSCO). She has also worked in the DRC as a consultant for the International Rescue Committee, World Vision, and a private consulting firm on various qualitative research projects involving health, gender, and governance. She was a Rotary Peace Fellow and received the University of Queensland Distinguished Young Alumni award in 2014. Luisa has also worked as a Senior Policy Officer in the Fragility and Conflict section of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Internews, International Crisis Group, UN Population Fund, and the UN Mission to Nepal.
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Somaye Sarvarzade

MA in International Education Administration and Policy Analysis
Stanford University, United States (2015)

BSs in Computer Engineering
Ferdowsi University, Iran (2008)


Somaye Sarvarzade is Education Officer at UNICEF, Afghanistan where she works to improve access to quality pre-primary and primary education for the out of school children in the most deprived and vulnerable communities.She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2014 and completed the master’s program in International Educational Administration and Policy Analysis at Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2015. Her research interests are education in emergency, education in post-conflict environment, peace education, and gender and education. Her current project includes studies of social studies and history textbooks in Afghanistan to investigate how education contribute to peace building. She has recently published research on issues of gender and education.Prior to her graduate studies, she worked as Communication and Reporting Manager and Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with USAID/ Afghanistan in three community development and local governance projects. She earned a diploma in leadership development from institute of Leadership Development in 2012 where she currently teaches seminars on critical thinking and diversity and inclusive leadership.Somaye grew up in a migrant family in Iran and completed her primary and secondary education there. She earned her bachelor degree in Computer Engineering on a scholarship in Iran and upon her graduation returned to Afghanistan in 2008.
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Leah Sherwood

PhD Candidate in Defense Studies
King’s College London, United Kingdom

MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding
Royal Roads University, Canada (2008)

BA in Political Science and International Relations
Carleton University, Canada (2002)


Leah is a third year PhD candidate in the Security Studies Department at King’s College London. Her current research focus is on the Middle East, Eurasia, foreign policy, non-traditional security threats, and women in security. Leah is also the Deputy Director of Research at TRENDS Research and Advisory, an Abu Dhabi-based think tank. Previous experience in the United Arab Emirates includes five years as a Senior Officer at Khalifa University’s Institute for International and Civil Security. Prior to moving to the Arabian Gulf in 2011, she worked with the Institute for Research, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC, Canada and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, South Africa on issues related to water security, good governance, human rights, and post-conflict management. Leah also travelled to Uganda where she conducted field-based research on conflict diagnostics, mapping, and peacebuilding initiatives. She also provided research support on a major project conducted by the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on the political participation of women in post-conflict reconstruction zones.
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Barbara Trojanowska

PhD Candidate in International Relations
Monash University, Australia

MA in Gender Studies
University of Oslo, Norway and University of California, Berkeley, United States (2013)

MA in Philosophy
University of Wroclaw, Poland (2011)


Barbara is a doctoral researcher at Monash University’s Gender, Peace, and Security Center. Her dissertation examines the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, with a focus upon Asia-Pacific National Action Plans (NAPs) on Women, Peace, and Security. As part of her dissertation, she conducted field research in the Philippines, Australia, and at the UN Headquarters in New York. Most recently, she co-authored the Fourth Annual Civil Society Report Card on Australia’s NAP on Women, Peace, and Security. Barbara’s long-standing goal is to work towards bridging research, policymaking, and grassroots activism for the most effective implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. Her professional experience encompasses working both for government and non-government sectors, including for the Norwegian Peace Council, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Women, Peace and Security Programme, and the Embassy of Poland in Norway.
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Hannah Wright

PhD Candidate in Gender
London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

MSc in Gender and International Relations
University of Bristol, United Kingdom (2008)

BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
University of Oxford, United Kingdom (2005)


Hannah is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics Gender Institute, examining how the gendering of organizational cultures in foreign policy-making institutions influences policymaking. Hannah previously worked as an adviser on gender, peace, and security issues for an international peacebuilding NGO, conducting research and analysis in and on the Middle East, North Africa, South and Central Asia, and doing advocacy toward national and international policymakers. She has also worked as a researcher in the UK Parliament with a focus on foreign policy issues and, prior to that, worked with a women’s rights organization in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
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Shannon Zimmerman

PhD Candidate in Political Science and International Relations
University of Queensland, Australia

MA in Conflict Resolution
Georgetown University, United States (2012)

BA in Musical Theater
University of Colorado at Boulder, United States (2004)


Shannon is a PhD candidate at the Asia-Pacific Center for the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Her research investigates how the need to protect vulnerable populations is leveraged by state and international actors to set priorities in peace operations, particularly extending state authority and conducting counterterrorism activities. Previously, Shannon was a Senior Program Specialist at the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding at the U.S. Institute of Peace. She worked on the Women Preventing Violent Extremism program, building women’s capacity to recognize and prevent radicalization in their communities. Shannon also worked at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – North America and at the Stimson Center. As a Boren Fellow, she lived and conducted field research in Tunisia and also worked as a Peace Corps Youth Development Specialist in Ukraine.