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Research Scholars

ILAR is supported by scholars and Ph.D. candidates from GPS, UC San Diego and leading institutions across the globe. They carry out important research on issues from environment and energy to human rights, trade and security, and actively participate in projects and activities.


  • Elaine Denny

    Elaine Denny

    Elaine Denny is a joint Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego’s Department of Political Science and GPS. Her professional interests include human rights promotion, second generation post-conflict development and experimental research methodologies. Denny has worked in the international human rights field as well as with nonprofits in the U.S., Latin America and Asia. She is a former Watson Fellow and Critical Language Scholar through the U.S. State Department. Denny holds a master’s in public policy from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in chemistry from Williams College. She speaks Spanish, German and Mandarin.

  • Alex Hughes

    Alex Hughes

    Alex Hughes is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Political Science. His research project aims to understand the role of cognition in political science. Currently, Hughes is researching the role of information perception and processing in international relations and the ways social networks shape strategic decisions. Prior to joining ILAR, Alex was a research economist at the Altarum Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich. He holds an M.A. in political science from UC San Diego, a B.A. in political science from University of Michigan and a B.S. in economics from the University of Michigan.

  • Jeff Kaplow

    Jeff Kaplow

    Jeff Kaplow is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at UC San Diego, where he focuses on the causes and consequences of nuclear weapons proliferation, international conflict and international security organizations. Before coming to UC San Diego, he analyzed foreign nuclear programs for the U.S. government. He holds a master's degree in international security policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. in political science from Yale University.

  • Kristy Pathakis

    Kristy Pathakis

    Kristy Pathakis is a joint Ph.D. candidate in political science and international relations and pacific studies. Pathakis’s research has focused on human rights law and election related violence, and she will continue to work on questions of the impact of international human rights law on democratization and violence prevention. She earned her master’s degree at GPS in 2012, with emphases in international politics and policy and a focus on Latin America. Pathakis holds bachelor’s degrees in business from Washington State University and in political economy from the University of Washington.

  • Matt Walsh

    Matt Walsh

    Matt Walsh is a joint Ph.D. candidate at GPS and in the UC San Diego Department of Political Science. His research interests are generally focused on the interactions between capital mobility and state sovereignty, with one particular interest being how these issues play out in the natural resource sector.  He joins ILAR following 6 years as an analyst with the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and holds degrees from Fordham University (B.A. in history) and Washington University (M.A. in international affairs).


  • Paulo Almeida

    Paulo Almeida

    Paulo Almeida is an assistant professor of environmental law at University of São Paulo’s School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, where he also is leading a research group on sustainable cities, including looking at environmental and public policies. He earned his Ph.D. from the Pontifice Catholic University of São Paulo in 2006 and his master’s degree in law from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, also in São Paulo. He was a 2014 visiting scholar at ILAR. His research examines how international actors influence policies and human environmental rights, as well as their reflections on climate change, and cultural and urban conflicts in cities. He currently is a practicing lawyer and writer in Brazil.

  • Larissa Basso

    Larissa Basso

    Larissa Basso is a Ph.D. candidate in international relations at the University of Brasília. She is visiting scholar at GPS and ILAR on a Fulbright Fellowship, which she was competitively selected for as one of only two dozen doctoral candidates in Brazil to come to the U.S. in 2016. With mentorship from ILAR Director David Victor, Basso will spend her nine-month appointment conducting research for and writing her dissertation on the politics of energy decarbonization in Brazil. Currently, Basso’s research includes international politics, energy policy and politics, climate change and global governance. She holds an MPhil in environmental policy from the University of Cambridge, and a Master of Laws in international law and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of São Paulo.
  • Andy Brownback

    Andy Brownback

    Andy Brownback is a Ph.D. candidate in economics with a focus on experimental economics and microeconomic theory at UC San Diego. His research interests include auction theory, where he explores bidding behavior in auctions of different sizes; and optimal contest design, where he considers the effects of risk aversion and competition on the elicitation of effort from participants. Before coming to San Diego, he received his B.A. in mathematics and economics from Kansas State University (KSU). He loves the KSU Wildcats, is active in his church community, plays tennis with a passion that matches his ineptitude and drums off beat and out of time.

  • Rosaly Byrd

    Rosaly Byrd

    Rosaly Byrd received her MPIA from GPS, specializing in international environmental politics with a Latin America regional focus. Byrd worked as an environmental policy consultant in early 2012 for Strategic Community Consulting and the League of Conservation Voters, evaluating the environmental voting tendencies of San Diego council members. She also worked as a summer associate at Malk Sustainability Partners, researching environmental sustainability management and responsible investment in private equity funds to develop a presentation deck to bring on new clients to the firm. While at GPS, Byrd was the research director of International Clean Tech Initiative as well as sustainability director of NetImpact.

  • Catherine Daly

    Catherine Daly

    Catherine Daly received her MPIA from GPS. Her coursework and research focused on international economics, development, and human rights. She is a 2011-12 Dean’s Fellow and contributor to the 2012 Journal of International Policy Solutions. Prior to attending GPS and as a Fulbright scholar, Daly researched the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to combat child exploitation and trafficking. She also holds a master of liberal arts from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in English literature from Barnard College.

  • Patricia Guardabassi

    Patricia Guardabassi

    Patricia Guardabassi was a Ph.D. candidate in sciences at the University of São Paulo, with a research focus on the sustainability of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol production. She also worked as a researcher at the Brazilian Reference Center on Biomass, developing studies in the utilization of different types of biomass as energy resources. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree, Guardabassi worked as a chemical engineer. She holds a master degree in energy from the University of São Paulo.

  • Kyle Irwin

    Kyle Irwin

    Kyle Elizabeth Irwin received her MPIA from GPS, with a concentration in international politics and development, an interest in human rights and a regional focus on Latin America. Prior to attending GPS, Irwin worked for a microfinance nonprofit in New York City, providing loans and continuing business education to low-income entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities. Irwin also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, where she formed and worked on capacity building with an indigenous women’s artisan cooperative. She holds a B.S. in business administration from University of Denver.

  • Ryan Jablonski

    Ryan Jablonski

    As a research scholar at ILAR, Ryan Jablonski worked on issues related to human rights and elections. An Earl Warren Fellowship recipient in UC San Diego’s Department of Political Science, Jablonski completed his dissertation on the political economy of investment and foreign aid in developing countries. Currently an assistant professor of political science in at the London School of Economics and Political Science, he conducts research on China‚ economic engagement in Africa, as well on the politics of commodity investment. Prior to coming to UC San Diego, Ryan also worked as a business consultant at Microsoft and an English teacher in Xiamen, China.

  • Sarah Jordaan

    Sarah Jordaan

    Sarah Jordaan was a postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the Energy Technology Innovation Policy Research Group. Her research interests fall within the topic of energy systems analysis, generally focusing on transportation fuels. Jordaan has participated in research on life cycle assessment of oil sands technologies, water- and land-use impacts of energy development, greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change and the role of cogeneration in carbon management. She currently is investigating environmental impacts of shale gas development, primarily surrounding water use, water quality and land use. She completed her Ph.D. in environmental design with a specialization in energy and environmental systems at the University of Calgary in 2010.

  • Sarah Gray Knoesen

    Sarah Gray Knoesen

    Sarah Knoesen was a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Political Science. Her research focuses on the politics of economic development and democratic institutions in the context of developing countries in Africa. Knoesen's dissertation analyzed the political logic of fiscal distribution in South Africa, examining distributive decisions at three levels of government to determine how the African National Congress maintains its political dominance in South Africa.

  • Nishana Kuruppu

    Nishana Kuruppu

    Nishana Kuruppu received her MPIA from GPS. Her coursework focused on international economics, development and environmental policy. She has worked with Innovations for Poverty Action, studying the impact of knowledge extension on farming methods in Northern Ghana. Prior to attending GPS, she worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, providing program management support to the U.S. Navy. She also worked at the World Bank in Sri Lanka, researching the development of Sri Lanka's emerging knowledge economy. Kuruppu holds a B.A. in economics from UC Santa Barbara. As an ILAR fellow, Kuruppu attended the 2012 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, to study the role of foreign aid in capacity building to address climate change, with a specific focus on adaptation.

  • Brad LeVeck

    Brad LeVeck

    Brad LeVeck was a postdoctoral scholar at ILAR. LeVeck's research applies experimental decision theory and game theory to a variety of questions in political science, from why parties coordinate on simplistic ideologies to what drives the decision-making of elite diplomats. Along with James Fowler, he helped found and currently runs the Omnibus Political Science Laboratory at UC San Diego, which allows researchers across subfields to collaborate on behavioral experiments and surveys conducted at UC San Diego. He received his B.A. in political science and in linguistics from UC Berkeley in 2004.

  • Yonatan Lupu

    Yonatan Lupu

    In June 2012, Yonatan Lupu received his Ph.D. from the UC San Diego Department of Political Science, where he worked on a dissertation that examined the effectiveness of multilateral treaties. During the 2012-13 academic year, he was a postdoctoral research associate at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. He began in August 2013 as assistant professor of political science at George Washington University in Washington D.C. His research interests include international institutions, international cooperation, international law, interdependence and international conflict, and judicial politics. Before graduate school, Lupu was an attorney specializing in negotiating multinational corporate transactions. He has been published law journal articles at UC Berkeley, Georgetown University, UCLA and the University of Virginia. His essays and reviews have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, New Republic Online and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • Mike Nicholson

    Mike Nicholson

    Mike Nicholson was a student in the UC San Diego Department of Political Science. His research interests include international political economy and international law, with a special emphasis on labor migration, forced migration and trade. Before studying at UC San Diego, he worked as a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, focusing on immigration economics. He spent the 2005-06 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar at Koç University in Istanbul, studying Turkish political development. In 2003, he interned at the U.S. State Department's Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs. He holds a B.A. in international relations and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Maya Oren

    Maya Oren

    Maya Oren earned a Ph.D. from UC San Diego Department of Political Science. She holds a B.A. in development from UC Berkeley and an M.S. in agricultural and resource economics from UC Davis. Before coming to UC San Diego, Oren worked with nonprofit organizations on corporate social responsibility and fair trade, and in economic consulting. Her primary research interests are international political economy and quantitative methods, focusing on issues of international regulation, trade, development, as well as agricultural and environmental policy.

  • Michael Plouffe

    Michael Plouffe

    Michael Plouffe was a doctoral candidate at UC San Diego. His current research projects focus on firm heterogeneity, trade policy, lobbying, the Japanese economy and political and economic networks, although his research interests vary widely. He has published in the journal International Organization.

  • Fang Rong

    Fang Rong

    Fang Rong was a postdoctoral fellow. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and both her master's and bachelor degrees from Tsinghua University in Beijing. Most recently, Rong worked as a research fellow at the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University. Prior to joining Tsinghua University, she worked for several research organizations including the Joint Global Change Research Institute and the Milken Institute. She also consulted for the U.N. Industrial Development Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Rong has published papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Energy Policy, Energy Journal, Climate Policy and China Energy.

  • Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld

    Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld

    Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Political Science. Previously, he worked for two years as a consultant at Accenture in Minneapolis. Before that, he earned a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. His academic interests surround international relations and quantitative methods, particularly the effect of international law on states, the international system and states in the 21st century, and how organizations govern.

  • Hallie Stohler

    Hallie Stohler

    In 2011, Hallie Stohler earned her master's degree from GPS, where she specialized in public policy and Latin America. As an ILAR research scholar, she collaborated on several articles and a book-length project, researching various aspects of universal and regional international human rights institutions, including state participation and institutional effectiveness. Her main research interests are economic, social and cultural rights; inequality; the rights of migrants and other displaced peoples; social movements; and international law and organizations. Stohler also holds dual bachelor's degrees in anthropology and Spanish literature from UC Santa Cruz. Professionally, she has worked at Amnesty International-Chile and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Chile.

  • Linda Wong

    Linda Wong

    Linda Wong works with Professors David Victor and Emilie Hafner-Burton on researching the role of corporate influence on the creation of international treaties. Her primary research interests are public policy and international political economy, particularly as it relates to global energy markets. She earned an MPIA at GPS, with a focus in international development and a regional focus on China. Wong holds a B.S. in agricultural and resource economics from UC Davis.

  • Ute Zischka

    Ute Zischka

    Ute Zischka received her MPIA from GPS, with a focus on environmental policy and a regional specialization on Latin America. Prior to attending UC San Diego, Zischka spent five years in Australia, where she was employed at the Global Change Institute and worked for the World Bank-funded Coral Reef Targeted Research Program. She speaks four languages and has worked in Germany, Fiji, Australia, Panama and the U.S. Zischka holds a B.A. in mass communication, with an emphasis on public opinion research and corporate social responsibility. As an ILAR fellow, Zischka attended the 2012 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, to study the positions of emerging economies like India and China toward mitigation schemes that reduce short-lived climate pollutants.