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Past MA Students


Tom Koritschan

Tom Koritschan graduated from the University of Zurich with a BA in East European History and Political Science after previous BA studies in Classical Piano. His undergraduate thesis introduced a theoretical framework on the relationship between higher education and foreign policy in the post-Soviet space. He has lived in Prague, Kiev and Moscow, and served as an interpreter in Georgia and Abkhazia. He has worked on a research team investigating Soviet energy politics and at a startup company entering the Russian-speaking market. Tom’s academic interests include the history of upbringing in the Russian Empire, Soviet Pedology and sports education, and the interaction between social values, travelling, politics and education.

Ophelia Lai

Ophelia Lai studied politics and East European studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on temporality in the thought of Hannah Arendt. Her interests include identity, collective memory and image-making in the post-communist space.

Amanda Lorei

Amanda Lorei studied English as an undergraduate student at Stanford and comes to CREEES as a co-terminal student. Last summer, Amanda completed a language course and homestay in Moscow. She enjoys reading Russian literature and plans to study the intersection of politics and creativity in Soviet-era literature. 

Laura Marti

Laura Marti graduated from Stanford University, where she studied Russian language, history and culture. While an undergraduate, Laura also studied biology and chemistry, and hopes to ultimately attend veterinary school following her time at Stanford. Laura assisted the political science department, translating documents for a project on the Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan before 1979. A FLAS recipient for Russian, Laura studied the stray dog populations in Eastern Europe and their impacts on public health. 

Ian McGinnity

Ian McGinnity graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2011 with a BA in International Relations and Russian & Eastern European Studies. He then spent three years working for a public policy firm in Washington, DC, where he was a part of a legislative team that advocated to the US Federal Government on energy, security, and tax issues on behalf of clients that included universities, research institutes, and Fortune 200 companies. Ian left Washington to research renewable energy development, energy security, and energy finance in Armenia through a US Fulbright Scholarship, where he also worked as a Resident Fellow for the Regional Studies Center. He was a recipient of both a summer and academic year FLAS grant.

Uve Poom

Uve Poom is from Estonia and holds a bachelor's degree in adult education from Tallinn University. During his undergraduate studies, Uve was an avid intervarsity debater and continues to support and promote debate as an engaging method for civic education. After graduating from Tallinn University in 2009, he spent five years managing the Unitas Foundation, an educational non-profit based in Tallinn. Uve helped launch a range of initiatives for researching and teaching history in contemporary ways, from setting up digital archives to developing web-based and participative educational methods. These projects include co-operation with the Stanford University Libraries. Working with reconciliatory history and human rights education programs, his expertise covers the intersection of national identities, history and politics, especially in the context of Estonia and the Baltic states. He has also written on these themes for Estonian and international periodicals.

Margarita Velmozhina

Margarita Velmozhina graduated from Lewis University in 2015 with a degree in Biology and minor in Mandarin Chinese. Initially, her passion for health care was only in the medical aspect of clinical care, however, her interests expanded to the social, economic and political determinants of social welfare policies and social spending concerning health care. She is interested in conducting research on the health care systems of both Russia and China. She participated in the STARTALK program in 2010, studying Chinese, and in subsequent years, she worked as a teaching assistant for the Russian STARTALK classes.

Isaac Webb

Isaac Webb moved to Kyiv, Ukraine on a Fulbright Fellowship after graduating from Washington & Lee University in 2013. There, he studied the relationship between the Ukrainian government and the country’s disabled population. He also worked as a journalist, covering the EuroMaidan Revolution and ensuing conflict in eastern Ukraine for a variety of publications. After returning from Kyiv, he was a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he researched and wrote about Ukrainian politics and American foreign policy. A 2015-2016 FLAS recipient, Isaac has written for the Atlantic, World Policy Journal, VICE, Eurasia Outlook, Kyiv Post, Russia Magazine, and Interpreter Mag, and made appearances on the BBC, CTV, and Radio New Zealand. 


Alyssa Haerle

Alyssa Haerle graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science and Russian Studies. Her research projects at UCLA focused on former President Dmitry Medvedev’s use of social networks and the internet and on Russia’s modernization program. Alyssa traveled to Russia multiple times, including on the Russian Flagship Overseas Capstone program in St. Petersburg, where she attained distinguished fluency level in Russian language and tested at FSI level 3. She gained experience with Russian entrepreneurial ecosystem development during an internship with support from UCLA in the Enhancing University Research and Entrepreneurial Capacity (EURECA) program at St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics. She subsequently worked as project coordinator for UCLA’s EURECA program grant for two years. She is a recipient of the 2011-2012 David L. Boren Scholarship and the 2014-2015 FLAS Fellowship at Stanford, both for Russian study. Her interests are in post-Soviet development and modernization and entrepreneurship in Russia. 

Luke Rodeheffer

Luke Rodeheffer graduated from Lewis and Clark college in 2011, where he studied History and Russian. He was subsequently a Fulbright Fellow in Ukraine and a research assistant at Koç University in Turkey. A FLAS recipient for Turkish, Luke is interested in geopolitical and political risk analysis, rule of law, and security issues in broader Eurasia. He has written analysis on Eurasia for a variety of publications, including The Diplomat, Business Insider, and The Middle East Monitor.


Brigid Connor

Brigid Connor has long been fascinated by the intersection of Russian music and history and holds degrees in both music and humanities.  Her senior paper examined the role of bells in Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” in relation to contemporary Russian identity while her master thesis explored the English reception of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Kaschei the Immortal as Wagnerian” in the context of the Great Game.   A FLAS fellowship recipient for Russian studies, Brigid continues to investigate the music of post-Petrine Russia.

Jacob Parsley

Jacob Parsley graduated summa cum laude from Portland State University with a BS in Political Science (2009) and a BA in Russian (2013).  After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan, he studied at Russian universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg.  Jacob has traveled widely in Russia and several former Soviet republics, and has a 3+ FSI oral proficiency rating in Russian.  Jacob is a recipient of two federal grants for Russian, a 2012-2013 David L. Boren Scholarship and a FLAS Fellowship at Stanford.  He is interested in post-Soviet civil society, language politics, and Soviet legacy, and intends to pursue a career in the federal government.

Charles Powell

Charles Powell earned his BS in Physics from Brown and an AA from Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and spends much of his time pondering the history and future of science.  He wrote his thesis on computational quantum chemistry, and has laboratory experience modeling plant hormones and playing with plasma rockets. Charlie has studied Mandarin Chinese and Russian, and is a FLAS recipient in Russian.  At Stanford, Charlie looked to reconcile his passions for science, pedagogy, and languages by researching the institutions and methodology of science in the Soviet Union.

Caroline Schottenhamel

Caroline Schottenhamel graduated from the University of Passau, Germany in 2011 with a BA in International Cultural and Business Studies with majors in Slavic cultures and history and with minors in Russian and Spanish languages and business studies.  Her thesis examined interculturality in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Igrok.  In 2009-2010, she studied at the Kazan State University upon receiving a DAAD Scholarship (German Academic Exchange Service).  Her primary interests are Russian and Eurasian history, politics, and culture. 

Robin Swearingen

Robin Swearingen received his BA in English Literature from Reed College in 2008, with a thesis entitled “Modes of Disinheritance in Kafka.”  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Youth Development sector in Kazakhstan from 2010-11, and worked as a coordinator for Eurasia Foundation’s program, “Equal Before the Law: Access to Justice in Central Asia,” based in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan from 2012-13.  During this time, he studied both Tajik and Russian languages and developed a keen interest in Central Asian cultures and strengthening of civil society.  A FLAS recipient for Russian, his interests include ethnic relations and nationalism, economic development, and the Soviet legacy.

Sheena Wildes

Sheena Wildes graduated summa cum laude from Central Washington University, with a double major in history and Russian language and a minor in interdisciplinary literature-focused honors.  During the summer of 2012 she attended the Davis School of Russian immersion language program at Middlebury College, and during the 2012-2013 academic year, she received a David L. Boren scholarship to further her studies at Saint Petersburg State University.  Her academic interests include Russian and European women’s history and women’s issues, the representation of women in literature, and the interaction between literary expression, political issues, and cultural norms.  As a FLAS recipient at Stanford, Sheena looked to deepen her knowledge of these topics and to explore the many facets of Russian culture.