Below are the short bios of our Fall’19 ROCCA Undergraduate Researchers, or the ROCCA’teers!
Yousef Abu-Salah is a sophomore studying Computer Science and Education with minors in Public Policy and Anthropology. He is working on Dr. Schram’s and Dr. Larson’s teams, studying refugee migrant patterns and exploring Native American geographical data. Outside of the lab, Yousef serves as the president of the Dores in Support for Palestine and the Founder for Tech4Kids: Columbus.
Grace Adcox is a senior studying Political Science, Asian Studies, and Latin American Studies. In ROCCA, Grace works with the projects of Dr. Larson and Dr. Dorff, while also managing the Outreach team as the ROCCA lab Social Media Manager. Her research passions are investigating processes of refugee resettlement and integration and examining climate change as a driver of human migration. Outside of ROCCA, Grace also works in LAPOP and serves as the Editor in Chief of Vanderbilt Political Review.
Paige Anderson is a sophomore from Milwaukee, Wisconsin double majoring in English and Public Policy Studies. She has been involved in local political volunteer work over the past few years, and she’s looking forward to broadening her horizons by exploring international issues through the ROCCA lab!
Eric Asen is a junior from Cary, Illinois majoring in Political Science and Economics. His projects for ROCCA are Indian Wars and Politics of China and East Asian Relations. He is particularly passionate about foreign affairs and works for the Latin American Public Opinion Project and writes as a Senior Editor for the Vanderbilt Political Review. In his free time, Eric enjoys playing foosball, jamming to music, and running his beekeeping business.
Helena Augenstein is a senior studying Economics and Public Policy. She is working on the International Organizations and Diplomacy projects this semester. On campus, she is president of her sorority and works for the Undergraduate Business Minor Program.
Gracie Baum is a senior double majoring in Law History and Society and Political Science with a concentration in American Politics. For the ROCCA lab, she is working under Dr. Ritter on the Evolution of International Organizations project and with Dr. Dorff on collecting conflict data on rebel groups in Nigeria.
Thomas Bell is a junior studying Political Science and Spanish, with a minor in Japanese Language and Culture. Thomas is currently on the Lending and War research team and the Small Arms Trade & Political Violence research team. In addition, he is involved with GlobalVU and McTyeire International House.
Dominic Cruz Bustillos is a junior double majoring in Russian Language and History. He is working with Dr. Coe on projects related to nuclear proliferation and the effects of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Outside ROCCA, he is currently studying at St. Petersburg State University in Russia, conducting research for his thesis on the war in the Donbass region and the intersection between nationalism, revolution, and separatism in Eastern Ukraine.
Miranda Cross is a senior Public Policy Major with an emphasis in Global Governance. She is working on Professor Ritter’s team studying the effectiveness of International Organizations and also doing lab outreach. On campus, she is also a Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy Scholar, and a study abroad peer advisor.
Xinyi (Holly) Deng is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Economics. Currently, she works on two projects: the evolution of international organizations and reducing prejudice toward refugees. Other than ROCCA Lab, she also serves as the Alumni Relations Chair at Global China Connection at Vanderbilt.
Rasul Dent is a senior studying Spanish and Portuguese as well as Computer Science. His interests include computational modeling of social systems and the relationships between pluricentric languages, technology, and language-regulating organizations, with a special focus on Portuguese-speaking nations. Rasul is currently working on the Evolution of International Organizations team, primarily in agent-based modeling.
Emma Donahue, is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in business. She is a member of both Professor Smith’s diplomacy research team and the student-run outreach team for ROCCA. Emma has previously been involved in writing and editing for a student-run international politics publication, as well as working last year on the Student Advisory Council for the Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health.
Mason Eiss is a junior majoring in Human and Organizational Development and Political Science with a minor in Jewish Studies. He is on both the Diplomacy team and the Refugee team within the ROCCA lab. Outside the lab, Mason is a Tour Guide and an RA in Hank Ingram House. He is very excited to participate and contribute to the ROCCA lab!
Huizhi (Tom) Fu is a senior majoring in Political Science. He is currently in Dr. Schram’s team assisting his ongoing project on hassling and Indian wars. He is also a freelancing photographer, specializing in portrait, landscape and street photography.
Larry Gao is a junior studying both Political Science and Economics. He currently works on the Lending and War team, focusing on interstate conflict and war financing between states. He has experience working for Governor Lee’s campaign, the Tennessee Republican Party, and for the U.S. Senate.
Jamada Garner is a junior majoring in Public Policy. He is excited to learn about methods that constitute proper research and wishes an international career in dispute management. He works under Dr. Kenkel and Dr. Dorff’s research teams.
Ryan Grawe is a senior double-majoring in Economics and Political Science with a minor in Brazilian studies. For the ROCCA lab, she works on the Evolution of International Organizations team and the Small Arms Trade Networks and Political Violence team. Outside of her research, Ryan is a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee and a Citizenship Tutor for refugees and immigrants through a local organization.
Amanda Gu is a senior majoring in Political Science and Economics. She is currently contributing to two different projects for the ROCCA Lab with Dr. Schram and Dr. Smith, and is a proud Canadian!
Nat Leabo is a senior majoring in Public Policy Studies and German. He worked at an NGO called Freeartus in Germany last summer where he aided integration efforts of Syrian refugees in Berlin. He is hoping to go on to a career working in immigration policy.
Caroline Lee is a junior double majoring in Educational Studies and Political Science with a minor in History. In the ROCCA Lab, Caroline is on the Reducing Prejudice toward Refugees team under Dr. Larson, as well as the Outreach Team for the lab.
Maggie McVeigh is a sophomore majoring in Human and Organizational Development with minors in Business and Spanish. She is a part of both the Evolution of International Organizations team led by Dr. Ritter and the Reducing Prejudice toward Refugees team led by Dr. Larson. Outside of the ROCCA Lab, Maggie is a Studio Lead for Design for America (DFA) and is organizing DFA’s project about addressing food insecurity in Nashville.
Alejandro Monzon is a senior studying Public Policy with a minor in American Government. He is working as a research assistant on the Violence Against Journalist project with Dr. Dorff and the project on Arms Transfers and Alliances under Dr. Smith. On campus, Alejandro is a Deputy Editor-in-Chief for the Vanderbilt Political Review and the Treasurer for the Alexander Hamilton Society chapter. Alejandro joined the ROCCA lab in August 2019.
Roshan Natarajan is a junior studying political science. He is currently working on research teams looking into the evolution of international organizations and into Native American conflicts. On campus, Roshan enjoys volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and is an editor for the Vanderbilt Political Review.
Ben Noon is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in Asian studies. He is originally from Towson, Maryland. Along with ROCCA, Ben is the founder of Vanderbilt’s chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society and a writer for the Vanderbilt Political Review.
Edward Ownby is a junior pursuing majors in Economics and Political Science as well as a minor in Business. At the ROCCA Lab, Edward is currently working on both Professor Kenkel’s Lending and War project and Professor Benson’s Small Arms Trade & Political Violence project. Originally from Nashville, he enjoys playing golf and following both the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans.
Ava Pacchiana is a sophomore double majoring in Human and Organizational Development and Political Science. She is a research assistant on Dr. Benson’s Small Arms Trade and Political Violence project as well as Dr. Dorff’s Conflict Event Data project. Ava is also involved with the Vanderbilt Prison Project and the Peabody Scholars program.
Ankit Patel is a sophomore majoring in Economics and Human and Organizational Development. He is working on Dr. Schram and Dr. Coe’s teams on the Indian Wars and Nuclear Deterrence. He is involved in the Vanderbilt Model United Nations Conference and the Vanderbilt International Relations Association.
Ruthie Perlman is a senior from Greenville, SC studying Human and Organizational Development and Political Science. She is working on Dr. Jennifer Larson’s project studying prejudice towards refugees. Ruthie is on the student executive board of Vanderbilt Hillel and serves on the Undergraduate Honor Council.
Jake Perlmutter is a junior from Demarest, NJ majoring in political science with a minor in history. He is working on Dr. Ritter’s project on the Evolution of Intergovernmental Organizations and Dr. Schram’s project on Hassling and Deterrence Failure in the context of nuclear non-proliferation. Outside of ROCCA he is a member of the Undergraduate Honor Council.
Nicholas Ramirez is a senior majoring in Law, History, and Society and minoring in Philosophy. Within the ROCCA lab, he is working with Dr. Dorff on violence against journalists and Dr. Kenkel on lending and war. Elsewhere on campus, Nicholas is the director of Vanderbilt’s Model United Nation’s team and Chief of Staff for VUMUN XVI.
Ram Reddy is a senior from Upland, CA majoring in History. His political interests outside of ROCCA include geopolitics and specifically nationalist and ethnic conflicts. He works with Dr. Smith’s project on Arms transfers and Alliances, doing historical research and looking for modern examples of the models being studied.
Andrew Ruan is a sophomore studying Economics, Sociology, and Business with a demonstrated interest in working in infrastructure and public finance. On campus, he is involved with Camp Kesem and the Investment Club. He wishes to gain a better understanding of international organizations through working at the lab in hopes of joining the future effort to support emerging economies.
Alena Sapienza-Wright is a sophomore majoring in Political Science. She is on Dr. Dorff’s and Richard Hagner’s research teams, studying the networked patterns of civil war and the effects of presidential appointee’s on foreign policy (appropriations). She is also a proud member of Vanderbilt’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams.
Joy Stewart is a senior majoring in Political Science and Spanish. In her work at the ROCCA Lab, Joy assists Dr. Larson on her research pertaining to the effects of informal social networks on the reception of refugees. Elsewhere on campus, Joy also does research with the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and serves as a student mentor for Vanderbilt’s DIVE (Design as an Immersive Vanderbilt Experience) Refugee Resettlement Program.
Katherine Strauss is a junior majoring in Political Science and Medicine, Health, and Society, and minoring in Women and Gender Studies. Katherine is working on Rich Hagner’s project regarding defense appropriations. Outside of ROCCA, Katherine serves as the secretary to She’s The First and the treasurer to HeForShe.
Noa Worob is a junior double-majoring in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and History, and minoring in Spanish. Noa is a member of both Professor Larson’s Refugee Team and Professor Dorff’s Rebel Direct Project. Outside of research, Noa is involved with Dance Marathon and ‘Dore For a Day.
Jessie Wu is a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Medicine, Health & Society. In ROCCA, she is a part of Professor Benson’s team on China and East Asia. On campus, she is involved in the Vanderbilt Debate Team and Alternative Spring Break.
Victoria Yaden is a junior studying Political Science and Law, History, and Society with a minor in French. She is working with Dr. Larson’s research on refugees and Rich Hagner’s research on defense appropriations. Outside of ROCCA, she is also involved in Vanderbilt’s chapter of Manna Project International.
Yolanda Ye is a sophomore double majoring in Economics and Human and Organizational Development, with a minor in World Politics. Coming from China, she is deeply interested in the study of international relations. She is currently involved in Dr. Larson’s Refugee project and Dr. Benson’s research on Taiwan. She also serves as a board member for Global China Connection—Vanderbilt Chapter and commits to weekly community service through EmbrACE to tutor underprivileged girls.