Welcome 2020–2021 Davis Center Visitors

Eighteen scholars from around the world join the Davis Center community remotely this year. Learn more about them and their work.

Senior Scholars

Yevgenia Albats is a Russian investigative journalist, political scientist, author, and radio host. Since 2007 she has been the Political Editor and then Editor-in-Chief and CEO of The New Times, a Moscow-based, Russian language independent political weekly. Since 2004, Albats has hosted Absolute Albats, a talk-show on Echo Moskvy, the only remaining liberal radio station in Russia. Albats was an Alfred Friendly Press Fellow assigned to the Chicago Tribune in 1990, and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993. She graduated from Moscow State University in 1980 and received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University in 2004. She is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) since its founding in 1996. Albats taught at Yale in 2003–2004. She was a full-time professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, teaching the institutional theory of the state and bureaucracy, until 2011 when her courses were canceled at the request of top Kremlin officials. She has a daughter and resides in Moscow, Russia.

Igor Istomin is an Associate Professor, Department of Applied International Political Analysis, and Senior Research Fellow, Laboratory for Analysis of International Processes at MGIMO University. On various occasions, he also delivered talks at multiple foreign institutions, such as Columbia University, Fletcher School at Tufts University, Georgetown University, Harvard University (all U.S.) and Jilin University (China). Igor Istomin is the author of more than 70 academic publications (in Russian and English) on Russian and US foreign policy, Euro-Atlantic matters and international security. He is also a regular contributor to the media and think tank debates (such as European Leadership Network, Russian International affairs Council and Valdai International Discussion Club).

Visiting Scholars

Nadia Boyadjieva obtained an M.A. in History from Sofia University and an M.A. in Law from the New Bulgarian University. She completed her Ph.D. at Sofia University in 1999 with a dissertation on U.S. policy toward the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 2016 she is a Full Professor at the Balkan Studies Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In addition to her posts at the Institute of Balkan Studies, she has been a full professor of international law and international relations (since 2013) and chair of the Department of Comparative and International Law at Plovdiv University since 2012 and retains those positions even after moving to the Institute of Balkan Studies as her primary affiliation. She received her D.Sc. in Law (International Law and International Relations) in 2017.

Elena Semenova is assistant professor in the Institute of Political Science at the Free University of Berlin as well as adjunct professor at the University of Jena, Germany. She has published in the fields of comparative government, Russian and Ukrainian politics, legislative studies, and political psychology. Her most recent book publications are Parliamentary Elites in Central and Eastern Europe. Recruitment and Representation (2014) and The Palgrave Handbook of Political Elites (2018).

Postdoctoral Fellows

Lindsay Ceballos is an assistant professor at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. She completed her B.A. at Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. at Princeton University in 2015. On her research leave during 2020-21, she is finishing her book manuscript on the earliest Russian reception of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Looking at a range of interactions with the writer's work, from theatrical adaptations to literary and political debates among the liberal intelligentsia, her project reconstructs the emergence of Dostoevsky as a liberal thinker and Christian humanist and the broader evolution of his religious philosophy through the Cold War.

Erin Hutchinson studies the Soviet Union as a multinational state and society, with a particular focus on social and cultural history. Her current project explores how intellectuals, especially those of rural origins, sought to transform cultural understandings of the nation after the death of Stalin. Her research examines writers from across the Soviet Union, with a particular focus on the Soviet republics of Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, and Moldova. She has received support for her research from the Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship, the Davis Center, the Center for Jewish Studies, the Ukrainian Research Center, Title VIII, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies scholarship. Erin was born in Arizona and currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.


Giuliana D'Oro, PhD student in Germanic and Slavic Studies, graduated with a specialization in Linguistic, Literary and Translation Sciences in March 2018, at the University of Rome. "La Sapienza", with a thesis entitled "Semantic fields, themes, motives and intertextual relations in the B.L.Pasternaks Dottor Živago". During her Bachelor and Master's degree courses, she spent study stays in Vienna, Tomsk, Berlin and Yaroslavl, thanks to the Erasmus and Extra-European mobility programmes. During the first year of her PhD, she carried out research at the ICATAT centre in Magdeburg (Germany) and participated in seminars and conferences in Italy and abroad (Germany, Poland, Romania). From September to December. 2019 she had a study and research experience in Moscow, working at the Russian State Library and attending a Tatar language course offered by the University of Kazan. She is currently investigating the issue of multiculturalism in Russia, dealing in particular with Tatar-Russian relations and the literary production of Ismail Bey Gasprinskii.

Natia Gamkrelidze is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the Linnaeus University, Sweden. Her dissertation focuses on the impact of external and internal images of political elites on Georgia's security. On the one hand, it features the external images framed by the U.S., NATO, E.U., and Russia, vis-à-vis the internal images framed by Georgian political elites on Georgia's security from 1991-present. Natia has already conducted 65 elite interviews with several political elites from the U.S., NATO, and Georgia, and her work is currently focused on the impact of the European Union and Russian images on Georgia's security. Natia holds two Masters degrees, one in European Politics and another in Welfare Policies and Management. Gamkrelidze has worked with organizations in private, governmental, and non-governmental circles. Before her arrival at the Davis Center, Natia was a visiting scholar at Columbia University in the City of New York.

Vusal Guliyev, originally from Azerbaijan, is enrolled as a Ph.D. Candidate in International Politics at the School of International Relations & Public Affairs (SIRPA) of Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) jointly with the SGS Program of Shanghai Municipal Government, where he also had received an LL.M. in China Studies under the CSC Program of Chinese Government in 2018. He held a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Asia-Pacific Research Center (APAM) of Ankara University, Turkey in 2020. In addition, he participated in the Joint-Research Programs at the Kyushu University of Japan within the Inter-University Cooperation in 2017 and 2019, respectively. His main research area is Governance and Development in Eurasia; Global Trade and Developing Countries; "BRI" (Belt & Road Initiative) and China-Central and West Asia Economic Corridor; Rise of China in the Regional and Global Context; Chinese Foreign Policy toward the Middle East and the South Caucasus.

Yunis Gurbanov was born and attained his undergraduate education in Azerbaijan, acquiring a Bachelor of Arts in Manager of Culture and Sociology in 2006. Later in 2011, he acquired his M.A. degree with distinction in International Relations. Currently, he is enrolled as a PhD student and tutor at the Institute for International Politics and Foreign Policy at the University of Cologne. He conducted research at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University in New York City, and at Baku State University. His research interests and expertise areas include geopolitics in Central Asia and South Caucasus and energy diplomacy in the Caspian Region. 

Oliver Jones received his BA from University College London (UCL), spending semesters at Humboldt University, Berlin, and St Petersburg State University. He gained a distinction in his masters from the University of Oxford, where he is currently a DPhil (PhD) candidate in German & Russian and a Senior Scholar at University College. In 2019, he was a visiting research student at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow. Oliver has given lectures on 20th Century Russian literature for undergraduates in Oxford, covering topics such as the poetry of Anna Akhmatova and Gulag writing. His current research focuses on the work of the Soviet-Jewish author Vasilii Grossman and the West German Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Böll.

Elina Kallas focuses on entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystems. She has been an entrepreneurship lecturer for many years at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Elina was involved as a researcher in developing a country-wide entrepreneurship education program in Estonia. Elina has published numerous academic papers as well as several books on creativity techniques. The latest book is The Solution Book, which is the collection of proven problem-solving tools. Elina is also an entrepreneur herself, helping companies to enhance HR function and develop managerial competency.

Svitlana Krasynska is an independent scholar. With an interdisciplinary PhD (University of San Diego, 2018) and nearly two decades of executive, consulting, and research experience in the nonprofit sector, Svitlana is the author of several scholarly publications, including her most recent co-edited volume, “The Nonprofit Sector in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia: Civil Society Advances and Challenges” (Brill, 2018). Her current research focuses on civil society developments in Ukraine, particularly on the informal and grassroots groups. Svitlana was born and raised in Ukraine, and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian languages.

Elizaveta Kuznetsova is a research fellow at the Centre for International Policy Analysis at City, University of London. Prior to completing her PhD in International Relations, she studied and worked in journalism in Russia and the UK. Working at the intersection of International Relations and Media Studies, Elizaveta specializes in public diplomacy, Russian foreign policy and its international 24-hour broadcaster RT (formerly, Russia Today). Through comparative analyses of RT and CNN, she has developed a theory of counter-framing. In the academic year 2019-20 at Boston University, Elizaveta explored Soviet roots in Russia’s contemporary propaganda abroad. In the academic year 2020-21 at the Davis Center, she will work on her project The Art of Disruption: Russian Interference and Social Media that focuses on Russia’s international influence online and how citizen engagement reinforces these practices.

Aidai Masylkanova is a Kyrgyz national. She is formerly a Counterterrorism Network Coordinator of the OSCE (Vienna, Austria). She has served in field missions of the OSCE and the United Nations, including in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Macedonia, Moldova, Armenia and South Sudan. She holds a Master’s degree from the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University. She has initiated community projects in her native Kyrgyzstan and Jordan that help raising awareness of the environmental issues, promote volunteerism and active participation of the communities in government's policy making. She is the author of a book "Three girls, Three worlds. Growing up in the USSR".

Stehn Mortensen is a PhD candidate in Russian Literature at the University of Bergen, Norway. His dissertation deals with posthumanism and the poetics of intoxication in the oeuvre of postmodernist writer Vladimir Sorokin, with emphasis on a selection of his later works: Blue Lard (1999), Day of the Oprichnik (2006), The Blizzard (2010) and Telluria (2013). He is affiliated with the Research Group for Contemporary Russia, and with Radical Philosophy and Literature at the University of Bergen, where he earned his MA in Russian literature in 2015 (thesis entitled “Refiguring the New Man: Animality and Machinery in Three of Bulgakov’s Novellas”). He holds two BAs, one in comp.lit. and one in Russian.

Alena Popova is a human rights activist and the founder of the Ethics & Technology think tank. She advocates for digital rights and using technology for the public good. Ms. Popova has actively fought against the adoption of the Yarovaya law and other unconstitutional legislation that violates the privacy and autonomy of Russian citizens. She participates in the expert group of the ANO "Digital Economy" on the development of regulation in the field of big data and artificial intelligence. Alena holds a law degree from Kutafin Moscow State Law University and a journalism degree from Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Jon Reinhardt-Larsen is a Visiting Fellow from Aarhus University, Denmark, conducting his doctoral research on Soviet foreign policy in the 1920s and 1930s with special emphasis on the Soviet perception of and policy towards the League of Nations.