Who We Are

Imperiia Team Photo

Poring over maps, designing databases, combing through endless volumes of half-baked statistics, chasing down the coordinates of long-forgotten villages, extracting itineraries from rambling travel accounts, building interactive visualizations, plotting networks... the work of compiling a historical GIS combines good old fashioned research with innovation in digital methods. Meet the Imperiia team!

Kelly O’Neill
Creator and Director of the Imperiia Project
Kelly is a historian of the Russian Empire and an advocate of spatial history. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on tsarist history, digital history, and the history of cartography. Her book, Claiming Crimea: A History of Catherine the Great’s Southern Empire (Yale University Press, 2017), received an honorable mention for the Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies. She conducts training workshops in historical GIS tools and methods and regularly presents her research to audiences ranging from high school students to colleagues at academic institutions around the world. Kelly holds both a PhD in History and an MA in Regional Studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA) from Harvard University.

Megan Duncan Smith
Project Manager
Megan is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Harvard, specializing in the history of modern Russia and Ukraine. Her dissertation - a cultural history of the Dnieper River in Soviet Ukraine - explores the cultural construction of nature and national geography. Megan’s favorite mapping method is running, cycling, and hiking the geography of New England and Eastern Europe with her GPS-enabled watch.

James Browning
Research Assistant
James is a second year Master’s student in the Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia program with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Russian from Carleton College. A long-time admirer of the aesthetics of maps, James is also interested in nearly anything related to Russia especially if it pertains to the late imperial era or the subsequent period of transitions.

Desmond Goodwin
Research Assistant
Desmond is a junior at Harvard College studying History with a focus on Russian Studies. She was introduced to Russian history through Dr. O’Neill’s courses on Imperial Russia and has been obsessed ever since! Her areas of interest include the Catherinian era and early 19th century Russian philosophy. In addition to her work with the Imperiia Project, Desmond is a member of the women’s heavyweight rowing team and sings in a local church choir.

Miranda Lupion
Research Assistant
is a G1 in the Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia M.A. program. She completed her B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied international relations and Russian language and literature. Her primary interests include Russian foreign policy and digital media in the former Soviet Union, memory politics, and the digital humanities.

Tyler Lott
Research Assistant
Tyler is a Junior at Harvard College studying History with a Secondary in Economics. Tyler was drawn to this project through Dr. O'Neill's Imperial Russian History course. He is particularly interested in Russian military history. Outside of the Imperiia Project, Tyler is active in the Institute of Politics Fellows and Study Group Program and Winthrop House HoCo.

Drake Marshall
Research Assistant
Drake is a junior at Harvard College studying History and pursuing a secondary in Archaeology and a citation in French. Drake was drawn to the project by his passion for military history. His interest in Russia began after taking a course on the Russian Empire taught by Dr. O’Neill. Outside of the Imperiia Project, Drake coaches youth soccer and spends his summers on archaeological digs in England.

Sierra Nota
Research Assistant
Sierra is a senior at Harvard College studying History and Slavic Languages and Literatures. She has been mapping Russia and working with GIS over the past three years, and most recently has applied her Russian, mapmaking, and archival research skills to a thesis project on Urban Planning and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Sierra solo traversed the horizontal extent of Russia, from Vladivostok to Saint Petersburg, by train, before she turned 21… and with only what she could fit in a backpack!