CSS Team

Anna P. Ronell 

CSS Program Manager

Anna has extensive experience developing strategy and operational plans for education and research programs and managing international partnerships and communications for innovative academic initiatives.

She received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University, has taught at Wellesley College, and has worked on international academic collaborations at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts.

Her scholarly interests are Russian-speaking Diaspora, Russian-Jewish experience in the USSR and in Israel, and Eastern European Jewish civilization.

Anna’s articles have appeared in The Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Polin, Studies in Polish Jewry, Prooftexts, a Journal of Jewish Literary History, and others.

At the CSS, Anna plans to develop a new discussion platform that will host blogs, white papers, policy briefs, and analytical opinion pieces and to create programmatic events that would showcase the CSS academic and policy expertise as well as new research opportunities for graduate students.

Thomas P. Cavanna 

Visiting Assistant Professor of Strategic Studies

Thomas P. Cavanna, a historian with a deep appreciation for IR theory and policy, writes widely on grand strategy and American foreign policy in South and East Asia. Dr. Cavanna is the author of two books: Hubris, Self-Interest, and America’s Failed War in Afghanistan: the Self-Sustaining Overreach (Lexington, Rowan & Littlefield, 2015); and Paradigmatic Volatility: US Foreign Policy towards India and Pakistan in the 1970s (French National Committee for Scientific Research, 2017).

He also published an article on U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy in South Asia in the Journal of Strategic Studies (“Geopolitics over Proliferation: The Origins of US Grand Strategy and Their Implications for the Spread of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia”, 2016) and various articles in France. His current book project is on geopolitics and US grand strategy.

Prior to arriving at the Fletcher School, Dr. Cavanna was a postdoctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University (Tower Center) and a lecturer in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a French “Agrégation” in history, a M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Sciences Po, a MA in Management from Audencia Business School, and a B.A. in Modern Literature from Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle. He was also a Fox International Fellow at Yale University. Thomas.Cavanna@tufts.edu

Post Doctoral Fellows

Benjamin Denison

Benjamin Denison is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Previously, he was a U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security Fellow at Dartmouth College’s Dickey Center for International Understanding. His research interests include various topics related to international security, military occupation, armed intervention, and regime change.  He is currently writing a book manuscript on the local institutional determinants of military occupation strategy, while also currently working on broader projects involving the role of uncertainty in military interventions and the long-term strategic effects of American regime change operations. Dr. Denison received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a predoctoral fellow with the Notre Dame International Security Center and a Dissertation Year Fellow with the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Megan K. McBride

Megan K. McBride is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a Research Analyst specializing in terrorism with a DC-area non-profit research and analysis organization.

Her research focuses on the relationship – as it exists in practice, as it is framed in public discourse, and as it is theorized in academic analysis – between religion, politics, violence, and terrorism. Her areas of expertise include terrorism, radicalization, religious and ideological violence, and theory of religion. As part of her work, she has conducted interviews with a series of domestic terrorists – convicted of crimes from arson to murder – affiliated with American anti-abortion and environmental terrorist movements. She has presented her work at major scholarly conferences and has been published in the refereed journal Terrorism and Political Violence.

Prior to arriving at Tufts she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, and a Middle East intelligence analyst with the National Security Agency. She holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Brown University, an M.A. in Government from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in Liberal Arts from the Great Books program at St. John’s College, and a B.A. in Psychology from Drew University.

Karim Elkady

Karim Elkady is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School. His book project titled Alliances that Matter: Why the United States Succeeds in Rebuilding States under its Military Occupation won the Smith Richardson Strategy and Policy Fellowship in November of 2018. Elkady researches forms of American military interventions, focusing on military occupation and postwar state-building. He is also interested in United States foreign policy toward the Middle East and how competition among major powers shapes political developments in the region. Before joining the Fletcher School, Elkady was a junior research fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. The Harry Truman Library and Institute and the Mellon Foundation have supported his research. Elkady holds a PhD in politics from Brandeis University (2015) and an MA from the American University in Cairo. He is on leave from his research position at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

Nils Hägerdal

Dr. Nils Hägerdal is a political scientist with research interests in ethnic conflict, civil wars, refugees, and politics of the Middle East. Hägerdal holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard, an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford. Prior to joining the Center he held postdoctoral appointments at the Niehaus Center at Princeton and the Crown Center at Brandeis. During his doctoral studies he also spent the 2013-14 academic year as a visiting researcher at American University of Beirut. His research is published or forthcoming in American Journal of Political Science and Journal of Conflict Resolution, and he is currently completing his book manuscript on ethnic violence and militia intelligence capabilities. In addition, he is also working on the Military Intervention Project. 

Sidita Kushi

Sidita Kushi is a research fellow in the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her research focuses on contemporary security responses, particularly as related to Western military interventions in regions experiencing intrastate violence. Sidita specializes in mixed-methods designs and has produced datasets and fieldwork narratives on the regional selectivity of post-Cold War humanitarian military interventions. Most recently, she has received grant funding from the EUSA Haas Fund Fellowship, Brudnick Center for Conflict and Violence, Aspen Institute Germany, and Northeastern University.

Her work has been published in European Security, Comparative European Politics, International Labour Review, Mediterranean Quarterly, Journal of Science Policy & Governance, and more. Beyond academic platforms, Sidita is also a contributor to public scholarship on security and economic crises, including The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, New Eastern Europe, and openDemocracy.

Prior to arriving at the Fletcher School, Sidita served as a Lecturer in International Relations and Statistics at Northeastern University and a Poli/Econ researcher at the U.S. Department of State (Embassy Tirana). Sidita holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northeastern University, an M.A. in Political Science/Economics from Northeastern University, and a B.A. in Economics from St. John Fisher College.

Visiting Fellow

Bridget Coggins

Bridget L. Coggins is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She has two ongoing research efforts. One examines the international security consequences of state collapse, and is anchored by a book, Anarchy Emergent: Political Collapse and Non-Traditional Threat in the Shadow of Hierarchy. The other studies rebels’ strategic use of diplomacy in civil war. Professor Coggins is also actively engaged in US foreign policy toward Northeast Asia, especially North Korea, and contributes to a variety of media outlets. In 2013-2014, Coggins was an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations in South Korea and is a Non-Resident Fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Korea Chair. Coggins’ first book, Power Politics and State Formation in the 20thCentury: The Dynamics of Recognition (Cambridge 2014), explored the international politics of diplomatic recognition. 

Senior PhD Research Fellows

Polina Beliakova

Polina Beliakova is a third year Ph.D. student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, specializing in International Security Studies. Polina’s Ph.D. research is focused on the civil-military relations in states experiencing internal secessionist conflicts. Before coming to Fletcher, she spent four years in Israel, studying an Israeli approach to counterterrorism.

Her previous research examined the effectiveness of governmental deterrence and reassurance strategies in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. She also co-authored an article on labeling and analyzing contemporary terrorist actors in a broader context of insurgency, published in Perspectives on Terrorism (2014). Polina’s field of regional interest includes the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.

She speaks Russian, Ukrainian, and Hebrew. Before finding her interest in conflict and security studies, Polina served as a head the Department of Non-Formal Education at the Jewish Agency in Kiev, Ukraine.

This year she will dedicate her energy to setting up a CSS Capstone Incubator – the project aimed at supporting the Fletcher students developing their final projects on the topics that overlap with the CSS research expertise. In addition, she will contribute to the discussions on civil-military relations, intrastate conflict, terrorism, and the U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis Russia and Ukraine.

David Kampf

David Kampf is a PhD student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, specializing in international security. His research focuses on conflict, foreign intervention, and humanitarian crises. David previously directed communications for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prior to this, he oversaw communications for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Rwanda. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, POLITICO Magazine, African Security Review, and others. He holds an MA in international affairs from Columbia University, where he was editor in chief of the Journal of International Affairs, and a BA in political science from Bates College.

PhD Research Fellows

Lima Ahmad

Lima Ahmad is PhD candidate in the fields of International Security and Conflict Resolution at the Fletcher School of Tufts University. She is Co-Founder of “I See You Campaign” an anti-corruption campaign in Afghanistan. She also founded Paywand Afghanan Association that focuses on research projects regarding women’s issues. She has worked on several development projects with national and international organizations mainly focusing on Gender Mainstreaming at the policy level. Ms. Ahmad has worked as Monitoring and Evaluation Director with the Administrative Office of the President Ashraf Ghani, where she worked on system development and primarily system reforms to ensure accountability in the governmental institutions. Ms. Ahmad has organized the South Asian Youth Conference in Kabul 2017 that focused on Youth and Violence and Gender issues. She has also organized Women’s Empowerment Fair in 2017 by USAID for 1500 women participants that showcased women’s empowerment programs of international partners in Afghanistan. Ms. Ahmad is an independent researcher with two search reports published, “Women’s Penal System in Afghanistan” and “Women’s Participation in Peace process of Afghanistan”. Her coming research projects are concerned with Women’s inclusion to the Security Sector, Afghan Peace Talks with the Taliban, and Security Sector Reform. Her areas of expertise: Institutional Reforms, Women and Security, and Conflict Resolution. Her regional areas of expertise are Afghanistan, South Asia, and MENA Region. Her regional areas of expertise are Afghanistan, South Asia, and MENA Region.

Meg Guliford

Meg Guliford is a Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Guliford’s dissertation project examines the effects of military intervention on civilian victimization. In addition to her work on military intervention, she also studies the effectiveness of peace agreements and the culture of elite military units.

Prior to beginning her doctoral work, she spent over a decade working for the Department of Defense and intelligence community. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.P. from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

During Academic Year 2017-2018, Meg will defend her dissertation prospectus and continue the research for her dissertation project. Her primary effort for the Center for Strategic Studies will be to guide its activities related to political violence and contribute to its various research efforts.

Zoltan Feher 

Zoltan Feher is a diplomat from Hungary and a Ph.D. candidate in International Relations at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is a jurist and a political scientist by training.

He worked as a diplomat between 2002 and 2015, serving as foreign policy analyst at the Hungarian embassy in Washington DC and most recently as Hungary’s Deputy Ambassador and Chargé d’Affaires in Turkey. He taught International Relations at the two leading Hungarian universities for ten semesters.

In 2015-2016, he was a Mason Fellow and a teaching assistant to Professor Joseph Nye at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he earned a Master in Public Administration. He has been the recipient of the Kellner Scholarship (Bard College), the Vali Scholarship (Harvard Kennedy School), as well as the Bradley Fellowship, Provost Fellowship and Graduate Competitive Initiative Fellowship at Tufts University. He has studied with Robert Pfaltzgraff, Richard Shultz, Stephen Walt, Niall Ferguson, Richard Rosecrance and Michael Ignatieff. His PhD dissertation focuses on U.S. grand strategy.

Xiaodon Liang 

Xiaodon Liang is a PhD candidate at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He is a research assistant at the World Peace Foundation (Medford, MA) and an associate at the National Bureau of Asian Research (Seattle, WA).

Before earning his master’s degree at The Fletcher School, he worked for the financial analytics firm Dealogic and interned at the Arms Control Association (Washington, DC). Xiaodon’s current research focuses on conventional arms control and defense economics.

Neha Ansari

Neha Ansari is a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she is studying the impact of armed drones on public opinion in conflict zones and their counterterrorism success. Before joining Fletcher for a PhD, she was a visiting researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on Pakistan’s strategic culture and the Pakistani media. At the same time, she was also a Research Consultant for the Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center at National Defense University (NDU), Washington, DC. She has given presentations and briefings to numerous military-security forums, including U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), the U.S. Joint Staff’s Strategic Multilayer Conference and NDU. Prior to this, she was a Fulbright Scholar and a journalist in Pakistan. She has a MALD from the Fletcher School, and an M.A. and B.A. (Honors) from the University of Karachi, Pakistan.

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