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.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Karim el-Kady 

Karim Elkady is a political scientist whose research concentrates on American military occupation of foreign territories that aims to build political order, and turn adversaries into allies. Elkady earned his PhD in politics from Brandeis University in 2015 and his MA in International Relations from the American University in Cairo.

He is a recipient of research grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Harry S. Truman Library and Institute. Before joining the Fletcher School, Elkady held research positions at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

At the Center for Strategic Studies, he will complete his manuscript, based on his doctoral research, tentatively titled America’s Experience with Militarized State-Building: Security, Duration and Alliances with local Political Forces.

Burak Kadercan 

Burak Kadercan is a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Burak received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 2011. He is also a Senior Associate at the Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups (CIWAG).

Burak’s research agenda lies at the intersection of IR theory, international security, political geography, and international history. He specializes in two broad topics. The first is the study of territory and territoriality in the context of international politics. The second topic involves the relationship between state-formation (or state failure) processes and production of military power. The cases he examines range from the Ottoman Empire to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), or private military and security companies in present-day Iraq and Afghanistan.

His research has been published (or forthcoming) in International Security; International Theory; Review of International Studies; International Studies Review; Territory, Politics, Governance; and Middle East Policy. Prior to his appointment at the Naval War College, Burak was Lecturer in International Relations (open-ended contract) at the University of Reading (UK) and Assistant Professor in International Relations (tenure-track) and coordinator for the Master Program in International Security at Institut Barcelona D’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI).

Margarita Konaev 

Margarita Konaev is a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her research lies at the intersection of international security and demography, and explores the how population dynamics – changes in the size, distribution, age structures, and growth rates of populations – shape efforts to prevent, manage, and resolve armed conflicts.

Previously, Margarita was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University, and a B.A. from Brandeis University.

During her year at the Center for Strategic Studies, Margarita will focus on writing a book manuscript on the role of population dynamics in intractable ethnic conflicts, as well as completing a series of papers addressing the interface between global urbanization and the changing nature and conduct of warfare.

Senior PhD Research Fellow

Sarah Detzner 

Sarah Detzner is a Ph.D Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Her research is focused on international security, particularly post-conflict stabilization/reconstruction and security sector reform.

In addition, she serves as Director of the Fletcher Graduate Writing Program, as a Fares Center and International Human Security Fellow, and as a consultant for the World Peace Foundation.

Previously, she served in the Obama Administration as a speechwriter for former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, campaigned as an Obama 2008 staffer, and worked with the National Democratic Institute in Washington, D.C., Lebanon, and Jordan. She is a graduate of Macalester College and originally from the Chicago area.

PhD Research Fellows

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.

PhD Research Associates

Polina Beliakova

Polina Beliakova is a second 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.

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.