George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Meet Our 2018 PhD Students

December 18, 2018

Men and women stand in a straight line.



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Ziad Al Achkar is from Broummana, Lebanon. He is interested in studying humanitarian operations, security studies, and peacekeeping operations. He obtained an MBA from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.





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David Aratuo (Dave) has experience in peacekeeping operations in Africa and the Middle East where he observed the devastating effect of violent conflict and its disproportional effect on women and children; this underscored his choice of S-CAR. His research interests include tourism economics, corporate social responsibility, economies of war and conflict, human security and structural violence, and post-conflict reconstruction with a focus on gender. He intends to explore the intersectionality of people, profits, and planet as related to natural resource extraction and management. He received an MS in Agriculture & Natural Resources from West Virginia University, and he hopes to be in academia and contribute to research and practice.



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Mathieu Bere (Matt) plans to study countering violent extremism (esp. jihadist terrorism); international negotiation; mediation; and peace and democratic transitions. He was born and grew up in Burkina Faso, West Africa, a region that has witnessed civil wars, coups d’etat, and jihadist terrorism. He also lived in other African countries that experienced armed violence. Hence his interest in peace and conflict management. He holds degrees in Political Philsophy (BA), Theological Ethics (MA), and Peace and Justice Studies (MA), the latter of which he received from the University of San Diego. At S-CAR, he would like to improve his understanding of the dynamics of violent extremism in West Africa’s Sahel region and of approaches to prevent and fight it beyond military engagement. He would also like to better understand and conduct negotiation in international settings. Following his graduation, he would like to use his training to contribute to peacebuilding and CVE efforts in West Africa but also in other places where this may be needed, for the world has become a “global village,” and he feels called to contribute to make of it a more peaceful and secure place for all. 



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Mozella Brown has spent most of his academic and professional career in the international relations and foreign affairs field. He received a master's degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, where he studied U.S. foreign policy and security, and a second master's degree from the National Defense University's College of International and Security Affairs, where he focused on dynamics of terrorism and U.S. counter-terrorism policy. He served four years in the U.S. foreign service in both Benin and Haiti and, for the past 11 years, has worked as an African Affairs analyst at the Department of State covering political, economic, and security affairs in Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti. Given the part of the world he studies, he has experience in conflict but much less in how it is resolved. While at S-CAR, he hopes to conduct research on how nonstate, or informal, systems of governance both enable and inhibit political violence with a regional focus on the Horn of Africa. He intends to use his S-CAR degree to teach at a U.S. government educational institution.



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T. Garey Davis (Garey) works on developing concepts, ideas, programs, and curriculum that embody elements of advocacy, equity, and justice. His primary responsibilities and duties include developing, managing, and facilitating multicultural education and social justice training and workshops for the larger Mason community and surrounding community partners. His interest in pursuing an advanced degree through S-CAR will allow him to work with academicians whose scholarship intersects with his interests and provide him with training to expand his own academic scholarship. He hopes to expand his knowledge in community-based trauma; applied interests in transformative and experiential education; and practice skills and integration of an interdisciplinary approach to conflict analysis. While in the program, he would like to develop scholarship, employing nonviolent, community-based educational approaches to minimizing conflict centered on toxic masculinities. Upon successful completion of the doctoral degree requirements, he envisions doing post-doctoral work in South Africa, working with education and health professionals, and developing conflict analysis and resolution pedagogy in learning environments both in school and in community settings. He received an M.Ed in Gender Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.



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Fatma Jabbari's research agenda focuses broadly on religion and politics with a focus on state religious exclusivity and minority politics. She particularly examines how these mechanisms operate in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. She is also affiliated with a group of researchers based at the Tampere University in Finland. Their upcoming research project examines youth transitions and their societal context in the MENA region and in Finland among young refugees. Jabbari earned her MA in Political Science from Ohio University in Athens, OH (Class of 2018), where she also earned a certification in War and Peace Studies. Jabbari is a Fulbright FLTA (Foreign Language Teaching Assistant) Alumna scholar for the academic year 2014-2015, holds a BA in English (2010), and an MA in Communication (2013) from the Higher Institute of Languages in Tunis, Tunisia. She has published in journals such as Global Studies of Childhood.



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Catherine Kihara







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Sungju Lee is a graduate of the University of Warwick with an MS in International Relations. He is interested in analyzing the correlation between identity and conflict resolution. For this purpose, the characteristics of different identity groups will first be examined. Second, the composing elements shaping each collective identity as well as their formation processes will be investigated. Third, an analysis will be conducted on the select characteristics that render conflict to become intractable and protracted. Last, a diagnosis will be completed on how these identities can be modified to resolve conflict. Through research, he will test his hypothesis that identity can both be the cause and the solution to a conflict. The results of this research will contribute to the analysis of various disputes and conflicts regardless of their nature. Further research into conflict resolution may allow for identity conflicts to be intervened prior to their occurrence through preventive policies, and their escalation moderated or even curbed through interruptive and transformative measures. Active participants in a conflict may be able to develop mutual respect and sources of common ground through the process of compromise via negotiation, laying out a solid foundation for resolving diverse conflicts in a more peaceful and constructive manner.



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Emily Linnemeier received her master's degree from S-CAR in 2005 and has since been working in the Los Angeles area, mainly for an organization that provides conflict resolution and anti-bias education for K-12 educators and students. The PhD program at S-CAR will allow her to further study how conflict resolution tools can aid groups working toward social justice, as well as how violence has become normalized in U.S. society and how this influences social conflicts. She hopes to either teach at a university after finishing the PhD program or advance her career working at a non-profit or governmental organization focused on these areas.



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Laura Mahan earned her BA degree in Psychology based on her work at a local domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy center. This experience propelled her into graduate studies in gender-based violence, genocide studies, and exploring the intersectionality between these two topics. Shortly after, she earned an MS degree from George Mason University in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where she incorporated her own struggles in disabilities into cross-cultural studies and gender-based violence. As a PhD student at George Mason University, she will further her research to the advancement of policy in practice for disabled persons, especially in advocacy for the inclusion and active participation of women and disabled persons in post-conflict communities. Through indigenous methods of conflict resolution and ethnographic techniques, she plans to utilize her passion for photography as a form of expressing narrative for an alternative way of exploring gendered and disabled experiences. She hopes this method will provide access for marginalize populations to gain a voice and advocate through visualization.



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Malkhaz Saldadze is from Tbilisi, Georgia, and he received an MA in International Studies from the University of Washington. He would like to focus his PhD research on the perception of causes and the current status of the conflicts in Georgia through the prism of peace and justice as viewed by parties engaged in them. As part of civil society and various research institutions in his home country, he has worked on these issues through programs and projects that were aimed at shaping public discourses on conflict and transformation, civic engagement, and European integration. For the last 12 years, he has also been teaching as an adjunct lecturer at the Ilia State University in Tbilisi, focusing on political philosophy, comparative politics, and history. Observing the progress of his students of various years makes him convinced that this is the area to which he wants to devote the rest of his career and professional energy.



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Shakiyla Sincere (Kiki) graduated from Howard University in 2013 with a BS in Psychology and a BA in Administration of Justice. After graduation, she transitioned from a Historically Black University to a Predominately White Institution and witnessed a pressing need for social justice education among the student body. Her commitment to social justice and intercultural competence was demonstrated in her time spent as a Conversations about Race & Ethnicity (CARE) facilitator, numerous conference and training presentations, and residence hall programming initiatives centered on diversity and inclusion. In May 2017, she received an MS in Forensic Science from Syracuse University with a concentration in Psychiatry and Jurisprudence. With the PhD, she has hopes of curbing racial bias in community policing by developing an intergroup dialogue-based intercultural competence training program that becomes the national standard. A quote that reflects her professional mantra  is by Audre Lorde: "I am deliberate and afraid of nothing."



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David Stebbins is looking to draw from his current work at the RAND Corporation, coupled with his graduate and undergraduate studies focused on conflict resolution, to conduct research in his interest areas, which include preventative measures and theoretical frameworks available to mitigate the onset of conflict; how opposition groups and insurgencies integrate into host-nation political processes; and exploring narratives and leadership lexicon/word-usage data to model resolution outcomes and sustainability. He looks forward to learning qualitative and quantitative applications of theory, practice, and methods to analyze current and future conflicts. He plans to collaborate closely with experienced S-CAR faculty in this field with the end-goal of advancing the current states of practice such as: mitigating primary factors that lead to conflict onset; enabling earlier intervention and associated negotiation processes to prevent the spillover of conflict once it occurs; and assimilating opposition forces into host-nation governance after protracted periods of conflict. He hopes to use this degree in support of advancing the still burgeoning field of conflict research, through the use of unique modeling and gaming, coupled with USG stake-holder workshops and focus-groups in his current professional capacity.



Christian Taylor







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