We are pleased to introduce the ten students who make up this year's REECA cohort. A variety of research interests are represented, some of which include economic and democratic development in Central Asia, Soviet nationality problems, and Russian legal history. The students' backgrounds include economic consulting, nonprofit work, and the U.S. Army.
Laine Boitos graduated from the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program at the University of Michigan and is now pursuing non-degree studies in the REECA program. As an undergraduate, she interned at the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. There, she worked on a series of research projects related to foreign policy issues throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Laine’s research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy and political science as she aims to uncover how regime type influences the development of normative value systems, and vice versa. She is also interested in studying Russian institutional design and the role of legal institutions in Russian politics.
Ryan Comrie is currently a joint A.B./A.M. degree candidate in economics at Harvard College and in the REECA program at the Davis Center. He is primarily interested in the developmental economics of the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet states and how these economics often relate to issues of foreign policy. In his free time Ryan is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys running and swimming.
Amy Dayton graduated from Middlebury College in 2019, studying both Economics and Russian. Amy worked as a research assistant in the Economics Department and studied in Moscow in 2018. Amy's undergraduate research focused on corporate governance in the Russian Empire, and the role of corporations in Imperial Russian economic development. After graduating from Middlebury, Amy spent a year working in economic consulting in San Francisco. Amy's current research interests include industrialization and growth in the late Imperial period in Russia, and Russian legal history.
Sean Matthew Eriksen is a first year master’s student at the Davis Center. He completed a dual degree in law and international relations at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where he wrote his undergraduate thesis on Russia’s foreign policy during Vladimir Putin’s third presidential term. He has lived and volunteered in Armenia and Ukraine, and his primary research interests focus on the domestic and international politics of contemporary Ukraine and Russia.
Austin Holdridge is a U.S. Army Eurasian Foreign Area Officer (FAO), just returned from the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. After receiving his commission as a U.S. Army officer from ROTC at Texas State University, Austin served overseas in Germany and Afghanistan as well as in multiple assignments in the United States. After being selected to become a FAO in 2017, he learned Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, then spent one year conducting in-region training in Eastern Europe. During in-region training he worked at the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria and the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania. Austin is a native of Palmdale, California and enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, and surfing.
Katrina Keegan’s fascination with economic and democratic development was sparked during her gap year studying Russian in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, which was undergoing an anti-corruption revolution. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, she held a research fellowship on Russian media and interned at the Center for International Private Enterprise and the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs. Katrina wrote her undergraduate thesis on “Informant of the People: The Surprise Success Story of Corruption Coverage in the Ukrainian Media during 2019 Elections” and graduated summa cum laude in 2020. She has spent substantial time in Eurasia, including nine months of direct enrollment in classes taught in Russian at St. Petersburg State University, five months in Ukraine, and two months in Azerbaijan. Katrina speaks Ukrainian and Turkish and is now learning Uzbek. Katrina is the 2020-2021 Innovation Fellow for the Program on Central Asia, and she plans to focus her REECA studies on economic and democratic development in Central Asia. She aspires to a career in journalism and creative writing and is currently writing a novel. Her work can be found at Russian Life Magazine, Verge Magazine, and Glint Literary Journal, among others.
Lucy Minicozzi-Wheeland is an American graduate student at Harvard University, where she is earning her master’s degree in Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA). She is a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year. From September 2019-March 2020, Lucy served as a Fulbright Ukraine Student Research Fellow, during which time she lived in Odessa, Ukraine and worked at the Odessa Center for Nonproliferation and Ukraine Crisis Media Center’s Hybrid Warfare Analytical Group in Kyiv, Ukraine. Before that, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Villanova Universityand spent the summer of 2018 at Middlebury College’s School of Russian. Most recently, she spent the summer of 2020 working as the Russia Studies Intern at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, USA.
Abigail Skalka received her bachelor's degree in government, magna cum laude, from Cornell University in 2020. Her honors thesis was a quantitative analysis investigating a link between personal religiosity and support for right-wing populism, focusing mainly on Poland in a comparative perspective.
Sydney Stotter graduated summa cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 2017 with a degree in Russian. As a Boren Scholar, Sydney studied at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan from 2017-2018. After returning to the U.S., Sydney spent two years working at American Councils for International Education, a non-profit dedicated to cultural exchange and immersive language training. Her research interests include Russian-language news media, post-Soviet language policy, as well as Soviet history and historiography.
Yipeng Zhou graduated from Zhejiang University with a major in Russian Language and Literature. He spent his junior year in Moscow, where he studied Russian philology at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia. His undergraduate research focused on Russian theater and dramatic literature. During his study abroad program he travelled through Transcaucasia and Uzbekistan. His travels to these former Soviet national republics, together with his experience of being a foreigner and an Asian in Russia, motivated him to explore Soviet nationality problems and their legacies. His Chinese background also sparked his interest in China’s interactions with Russia and Eurasia. In particular, he is interested in Russian/Soviet involvement in Xinjiang in the 19th and 20th centuries. During his college years he interned at Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Xinhua News Agency, and worked as interpreter for several cultural and technical exchange programs involving China, Russia and Central Asia.