CSS Team


Polina Beliakova

CSS Program Coordinator

Polina Beliakova is a Ph.D. Candidate in International Relations at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and Program Coordinator at the Center for Strategic Studies. Her research interests include civil-military relations, intrastate conflict, and democratic governance. Polina’s doctoral research focuses on intrastate conflicts in democracies and their effects on civilian control of the military. Her second project considers the effect of civil-military relations on civil war termination. Her research on the erosion of civilian control in democracies was recently published by Comparative Political Studies and Texas National Security Review. Polina’s earlier scholarship on the intersection of insurgency and terrorism appeared at Perspectives on Terrorism. In addition, her commentary on Russian politics, security, and defense was published by War on the Rocks and the World Peace FoundationYou can find more information about Polina’s research and teaching at www.polinabeliakova.com and follow her on Twitter @Beliakova_P.


Visiting Research Fellows

Aroop Mukharji

Dr. Aroop Mukharji is a scholar of U.S. history, U.S.-Latin American relations, U.S.-Europe relations, and presidential decision-making. He received his PhD in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was an Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy. He has been published by The Journal of Applied History, Negotiation Journal, War on the Rocks, The Atlantic, The National Interest, The New Republic, and The Washington Post. In 2016, he published a book, Diplomas and Diplomacy (Palgrave Macmillan), on education, diplomacy, and the U.S.-U.K. relationship. Aroop received his B.A. magna cum laude in Mathematics and Political Science from Williams College. He also received an M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and an M.A. in International Peace and Security from King’s College London, both undertaken on a Marshall Scholarship. For several years, he hosted two podcasts and video series, Snack Break and Office Hours.


Nils Hägerdal

Nils Hägerdal is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow with research interests in ethnic conflict, civil wars, refugees, U.S. foreign policy, and Middle East politics. 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, and during his doctoral studies he spent the 2013-14 academic year as a visiting researcher at American University of Beirut. His book, Friend or Foe: Militia Intelligence and Ethnic Violence in the Lebanese Civil War was published by Columbia University Press (Columbia Studies in Middle East Politics, 2021) and his articles appear in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Mediterranean Politics. You can learn more at https://scholar.harvard.edu/hagerdal and follow him on Twitter: @nilshagerdal


Christina Bain

Christina Bain is a Visiting Research Fellow within The Fletcher School’s Center for Strategic Studies at Tufts University and more recently, a Visiting Researcher within the Center for the Study of Europe at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. She is the former and founding Director of Babson College’s Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery and the former and founding Director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery within the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Christina has served in a variety of roles with the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council Network and is a former term member with the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a member of the Global Initiative Network of Experts with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime; OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade; Massachusetts Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Advisory Group for Tech Against Trafficking (with the RESPECT initiative); and Board Chair of ArtWorks for Freedom. She is appointed to the Massachusetts Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence under Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, where she is Co-Chair of the Human Trafficking Workgroup.


Karim Elkady

Karim Elkady is a scholar of US military occupation and state-building of foreign territories. He holds a Ph.D. in Politics from Brandeis University and an MA in International Relations from the American University in Cairo. 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. The Harry Truman Library and Institute, the Mellon Foundation, and the Kemet Boutros Ghali Foundation have all supported his research. Elkady is a senior researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.  He was an inaugural postdoctoral fellow at Fletcher’s Center for Strategic Studies from 2017-2021. Before joining the Fletcher School, Elkady was a junior research fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. Elkady’s research also investigates America’s foreign policy toward the Middle East. The Oxford University Press has published his article “US-Egypt Relations” in its Research Encyclopedia of American History.  


Thomas P. Cavanna 

Thomas P. Cavanna is a Visiting Research Fellow in Strategic Studies. Trained as a historian of US foreign policy in South Asia, he now works on grand strategy and US-China relations. Most recently, he published in the Texas National Security Review (“Unlocking the Gates of Eurasia: China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its Implications for U.S. Grand Strategy”), 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”), and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia (“U.S. Grand Strategy since 1776”). Dr. Cavanna is writing a book on China’s rise and US grand strategy across the Eurasian continent. He holds a French “Agrégation,” an MA and PhD in History from Sciences Po, and an MA from Audencia Business School. He was also a Fox Fellow at Yale University and a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.

James D. Boys

Dr. James D. Boys is a Visiting Scholar at the Fletcher School’s Center for Strategic Studies. He was a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London from 2012-15, and Professor of International Political Studies at Richmond University in London, where he taught from 2006-2019. His current research examines the application of the Madman Theory in U.S. Grand Strategy. He has authored three books: Clinton’s Grand Strategy (Bloomsbury, 2015) Hillary Rising (Biteback, 2016), and Clinton’s War on Terror (Lynne Rienner, 2018). His research papers have been published in The Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Politics, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Intelligence and National Security, and Congress and the Presidency. Since 2007 his keen insight into U.S. politics and foreign affairs has made him a regular guest on CNN, the BBC, Sky News and CNBC. You can view James’ publications and media work at www.jamesdboys.com and follow him on Twitter @jamesdboys


PhD Research Fellows

David Kampf

David Kampf is a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. His research focuses on conflict, foreign intervention, migration, terrorism, illicit networks, and humanitarian crises. He previously directed communications for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and oversaw communications for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Rwanda. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, War on the Rocks, POLITICO Magazine, 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.


Ilana Rothkopf

Ilana is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include international and comparative law, international organizations, post-conflict reconstruction, and political violence. Specifically, her doctoral research analyzes the impact of international involvement in constitution-making in the context of armed conflict. In addition to her research on constitutional design and conflict management, she also conducts research on international humanitarian law and Islamic international law. Her research has been published in the Journal of Conflict and Security Law, the Journal of Constitutional Law in the Middle East and North Africa, and is forthcoming in the Journal of Law and Courts. You can find more information about Ilana’s research and teaching at https://ilanarothkopf.com/.


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.


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.