2015 Graduate Fellows

AC4’s 2015 Graduate Student Fellowship Cohort

Individual Fellowship Recipients

Diana Gerbase.1Diana Gerbase
School of International and Public Affairs
Masters of Public Admin, Urban & Social Policy

Diana is passionate about understanding how civic knowledge and engagement help people build better governance. She believes that if people learn how to deal with conflict and common challenges in a fruitful way, they can prevent violence and build states that sustain their peace and well-being in the long term. She has a background in economics, management consulting, and business development, and is currently a Master in Public Administration graduate student at Columbia University. In parallel, she is developing a social enterprise that is focused in bringing civic and political education to high school students in Brazil. Through this initiative, she hopes to empower teenagers with the knowledge, the skills, and the attitudes they need so they can lead the transformation of their own realities.



Kolby Hanson
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Political Science, Comparative Politics

Kolby’s research looks at how multiple armed actors coexist in ungoverned or civil war regions. It emphasizes how state militaries and non-state militias define informal borders and other cooperative agreements that enable them to coexist – and how groups incentivize compliance within their hierarchies. The AC4 grant will fund research in Northeast India, where a complex web of armed groups struggle to survive in the same region.


Dasalt.1Alexandra Tamiko Da Dalt
Teachers College
International Educational Development, Peace & Human Rights Education

As an AC4 Fellow, Alexandra will investigate the personal narratives and experiences of Timorese women and their perspectives on conceptions of gender, peace, and their own agency in Timor-Leste. Her qualitative study expands on previous findings and attempts to bring Timorese women’s voices to the center of the current conversation around gender in the post-conflict nation. Findings will be used to to make suggestions for a transformational feminist peace education/critical consciousness education (conscientização) program, structured around the needs and concerns of participants.



Nora Keller
General School of Arts and Sciences
Political Sciences

Nora Keller’s dissertation explores why some rebel organizations incorporate nonviolent action in the form of demonstrations, strikes or protests into their strategic arsenal, whereas other rebel groups become more extremist over time. Even though “rebel group” and “nonviolence” may seem oxymoronic, this is a largely unexplored pathway of how violence can end. Nora will use the AC4 Fellowship to conduct semi-structured elite interviews with both violent and nonviolent resistance leaders in Timor-Leste.



Laura Vargas
School of Social Work
Social Policy and Policy Analysis

Laura´s research focuses on how violence affects the provision/access to health care services in Mexico, and what potential consequences this may have for the health of individuals and communities. As an AC4 Fellow, she will travel to several states in Mexico that have experienced high levels of violence caused by organized crime activity and the Drug War in order to have a better understanding of how health care service delivery may be impacted by this phenomenon. She hopes to shed light on these mechanisms by conducting qualitative interviews with key informants such as doctors and other health professionals as part of the work that will lead to her dissertation.

View Laura’s presentation and learn more about her research.

Valerie.1Valerie Bondura
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Valerie Bondura is a landscape archaeologist, focusing on themes of violence, trauma, landscape, and ontology in Spanish contexts. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with degrees in Classical Archaeology and Anthropology in 2013 and is now continuing her training in the PhD program in the Anthropology department here at Columbia. Her research with the AC4 grant will focus on developing a landscape approach to the archaeology of the Spanish Civil War.

View Valerie’s presentation and learn more about her research.


Grennan.1Kristen Grennan
School of International and Public Affairs
Masters of Public Administration, Human Rights

Kristen Grennan has been working on children and youth advocacy on a global scale, thanks to her work with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts as a United Nations Youth Representative, UN Millennium Campaign as a Youth Advocate, and UN Working Group on Girls as an advocacy committee member. As an AC4 fellow, she will be researching the role that children and youth play in post-conflict transitional justice processes with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). By incorporating children and youth into the transitional justice process, children and youth become an integral part of the healing process, are empowered to tackle the issues that face their communities, and recognize the importance of civic engagement in local, regional, and national issues. This internship will provide Kristen with the tools to continue to focus her work on children and youth issues while developing news skills in research and development, which will compliment her advocacy background.

View Kristen’s presentation and learn more about her research.



Emily Richardson
Teachers College
International and Comparative Education

Emily is a doctoral student, studying policy and planning in the International & Comparative Education program at TC. For her AC4 project, she will be exploring teacher quality in low-fee private schools in Pakistan. The low-fee private school sector haas rapidly expanded in recent years, yet little is known about its teachers, and the quality of learning taking place within these schools. Thus, she intends to engage with teachers in a variety of different low-fee private schools in rural Punjab. Having lived in Pakistan before, Emily is thrilled to return and continue her research on teacher policy related issues.


Montero AC4 Photo_final

Fernando Montero
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 

Fernando Montero is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology. His research examines the impact of militarization and the projected construction of an interoceanic canal across Nicaragua on Afro-indigenous forms of sociopolitical organization. As an AC4 fellow, he will live in a village on the Miskitu Coast to examine how contemporary interventions by the Nicaraguan government are challenging indigenous juridical and economic institutions.

View Fernando’s presentation and learn more about their research.



Olive Nsababera
School of International and Public Affairs
Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice

Olive is studying for the Master’s of Public Administration in Development Practice. As an AC4 fellow, she will pursue an internship with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Jordan where she will engage in research to identify the drivers of youth participation in conflict. Through the research she will study the impact of civic engagement and skills development on children and adolescent’s involvement in armed violence. She graduated with a degree in Economics from Yale University and has a keen interest in the link between economic development and conflict.

Team Fellowship Recipients

Marina & Srishti.1Marina Marcus and Srishti Sardana
Teachers College
Clinical Pscyhology

As AC4 Fellows, Marina and Srishti will travel to rural communities of Gujarat, India to conduct focus groups and interviews with home-based female sex workers and the community-based health professionals who serve them. This formative pilot research aims to map the existing referral pathways and gauge the needs, perceptions and barriers to accessing mental health services as experienced by these women. Their study, called Project Ankur, intends to serve as a foundation for the design and development of an acceptable, accessible, feasible and effective mental healthcare system that will address the mental health needs of this very vulnerable population.

View their presentation and learn more about their research.

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