Student Fellows

The Zolberg Institute fosters the next generation of migration scholars and advocates through its Student Fellows program. Fellows comprise of students enrolled in the Institute’s courses, or employed as research associates at the Institute.

Student Fellows 2019-

Lea Bernier-Coffineau is currently pursuing her M.A. in Anthropology at The New School for Social Research, influenced by the desire to contribute to the expanding research of the Zolberg Institute. Her research focus is on humanitarian government, stateless populations, and the biopolitics of detention through the prism of decolonization. She is working on the Sanctuary Working Group and Research Cluster during the 2019-2020 year.

Angelica Calabrese is a M.A. student studying Anthropology at The New School for Social Research and a Zolberg Student Fellow for the 2019-2020 school year.  Angelica is pursuing research at the intersection of migration, mobility, and ecology. Angelica researches the mobility of non-human beings (plants, insects, animals, pathogens, etc.) and rethinking ideas of borders. As part of the Multiple Mobilities Working Group, she also seeks to better understand asymmetrical access to mobility and the nexus of climate change and migration.

Yingru Chen is pursuing a graduate degree in Anthropology at The New School for Social Research.  Yingru’s primary research interest is international migration in China, focusing on migrant workers along with post-socialism reflections on the hybridity of capitalism and anthropological methodologies. She joins the Zolberg Student Fellowship cohort of 2019-2020 as a part of the Multiple Mobilities Working Group.


Jiyoung Cho is a Ph.D. candidate in Politics at The New School for Social Research, a Zolberg Student Fellow, and GIDEST fellow for 2019-2020. Her fields of interest are the spatial and temporal dimensions of world politics, political economy of development, border, migration, and the transformation of citizenship. Her current research explores the politics of infrastructure in tri-borderlands (and beyond) where North Korean, Chinese, and Russian borders meet in the vicinity of the Tumen River to rethink the meaning of peaceful prosperity.Jiyoung is working alongside faculty throughout the 2019-2020 Fellowship year on the Multiple Mobilities Working Group.

Mat Cusick is an M.A. candidate in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism at The New School for Social Research.  His research focuses on theories and tactics of liberation; mutual aid and the commons; radical arts and rhetorical modes; new media and print production; solidarity and resonance; decolonization and dismantling borders; exodus and abolition. Mat is the co-producer of the Golden Doors Project, editor at Public Seminar, and editor and publisher of Commoner Medios. During the 2019-2020 Zolberg Fellowship year, Mat is working on a special series for the new season of the Tempest Tossed podcast. 

Cassidy Giordano joins the Zolberg Institute 2019-2020 Fellowship cohort as a M.A. candidate with the Julien J. Studley Program in International Affairs and as a contributor to the Tempest Tossed podcast. Cassidy’s primary research interests are in the already weakened regions convenient for migrants to travel for asylum and protracted situations of displacement. Cassidy is deeply interested in the effect on children during prolonged displacement, alternative methods of implementation of aid for childhood development, and questioning the lack of accountability and responsibility between disconnected figures of governing authority.  

Paloma Griffin is currently pursuing her M.A. in Politics at The New School for Social Research, where she is studying citizenship and migration and the Sanctuary City movement and joins the Sanctuary Working Group during her tenure with the Zolberg Institute Fellowship Program. Paloma is also a Fellow for Spring 2020, where she will work in the IRC President’s office providing policy support.


Vanessa Hershberger joins the 2019-2020 Zolberg Student Fellowship cohort as a graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Nonprofit Management with a Migration Studies minor at The New School.  Vanessa is participating in the Migration and Memory Working Group during her Fellowship, which will allow her to build research on her interest of how to build organizations that respond to people affected by forced migration that supports and empowers, allowing them to fully participate and make decisions.

Sofia Matheu is an MA student in Anthropology at The New School for Social Research.  Her research focuses the liminal state of deportation where Guatemalan deportee’s limbo. She joins the 2019-2020 Zolberg Fellowship cohort as a contributor to the Multiple Mobilities Working Group, where she can actively explore and add to the research of her peers and faculty.


Maria Francisca Paz y Mino Maya is a graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management and a 2019-2020 Fellow at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. Her capstone research focuses on migration and climate change in Latin America. She is also part of Public Seminar, where she will be writing more about migration trends in the Americas.


Ana Ramirez is an M.A. candidate in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism at The New School for Social Research. She will work on the special series for the new season of Tempest Tossed as a Zolberg Student Fellow. Her research interests include migration in the southern border, health and migration, Sanctuary Cities and Universities, DACA and Dreamers.


Yichuan Zhou is a current Ph.D. Politics student at The New School for Social Research focusing on radical democracy, critical theory, modern Chinese political thought, and East Asian history. Yichuan joins the 2019-2020 Zolberg Student Fellowship Program and is actively engaging in the work at Public Seminar.


Anjali Bhalodia is an MFA student in Transdisciplinary Design at The New School Parsons School of Design. She is a design educator, researcher, and strategist. Anjali is passionate about bringing human-centered approaches to organizational and community-driven projects and processes. Anjali is currently pursuing an MFA in Transdisciplinary design at Parsons. While at IRC, Anjali will help build capacity for human-centered design across IRC’s educational product portfolio.


Douglas de Toledo Piza is a PhD candidate in Sociology at The New School for Social Research and a Zolberg-IRC fellow. He also holds a M.A. degree in Sociology, and a B.A. in International Relations, both at the University of São Paulo. His fields of interest are Migration and Mobility, Economic Sociology, Political Economy, and Anthropology of the State. His doctoral research addresses the political economy of illegalisms at the intersections of borders, markets, and migration.


Weston Finfer is a current Liberal Studies MA candidate at the New School for Social Research and Zolberg-IRC Fellow with the 2019-2020 cohort. His current research is focused on algorithmic randomness and complexity, and how that maps on to the practical usage of computation in every day interactions. As a Zolberg-IRC fellow, Weston will be researching an end-to-end analysis of pharmaceutical supply chains at IRC.


Olivia Friedman is a first-year M.A. Psychology student with a focus on Global Mental Health. As a Zolberg-IRC Fellow, she works closely with Airbel’s communications and knowledge management team, Olivia will capture stories and create visuals which will better communicate innovative new projects and key research findings. Olivia has a background in the User Experience, Software Development, and Apparel Design industries. She received a B.S. in Fiber Science & Apparel Design from Cornell University in 2018. She is eager to channel her design background into her work in Global Mental Health and is interested in studying new ways in which technology can be incorporated into trauma intervention techniques to support vulnerable populations.

Lina Jaramillo is a Ph.D. candidate in Public and Urban Policy at the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment. She is a Colombian research-activist with five years of experience supporting organizations with management of operations and academic research. Lina will be responsible for scoping and supporting the design of early stage innovations at the Airbel Impact Lab, including refugee resettlement, emergency response to the Ebola outbreak, and leveraging science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to improve humanitarian response efforts. Her previous work experience helps her to explore the connections between disciplines that allow to build new knowledge based on socially innovative research approaches, while supporting vulnerable communities in the south pacific of Colombia. Lina was able to design methodological guidelines centered on design thinking and social innovation to work with women victims of armed conflict on economic empowerment and psychological healing. She is interested in research with public incidence, storytelling that creates empathy, human-centered design thinking and social justice through public policy. Lina holds a Masters in Management for Social Innovation and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Relations from Icesi University in Cali, Colombia.

Grace Ewing




Erin Johnson is currently working toward her M.A. of International Affairs at the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs at The New School. Working as an IRC-Zolberg Fellow in IRC’s Emergency Unit, Erin Johnson will be developing various models to support stronger engagement, communication, and feedback between the IRC and communities in early onset and acute humanitarian emergencies. Erin is a Montana native and new New Yorker who has based her career in education and refugee relief. She first started working with refugees in Amman, Jordan, where she studied development economics and had a fellowship with Collateral Repair Project. After returning and completing her undergraduate degree, Erin served with Americorps, which took her from Montana to Boston to D.C. to Wichita. She taught math and science to English-language learners with City Year Boston, as well as serving in the organization’s Service Reserves. She subsequently worked for the Plan International USA Global Women in Management conference in Washington, DC. She then moved to Kansas, where she worked in adult education with the International Rescue Committee in Wichita. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in International Affairs, and is very daunted at the idea of staying in one place for such a long time. In her free time, Erin loves to read, craft, and re-read.

Evan Neuwirth

Kendall Pfeffer


Previous Student Fellows

Guillermina Altomonte is a journalist and a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at The New School for Social Research. Her dissertation is an ethnographic study of the done by elderly patients, their families, and workers in health care institutions to collectively design and produce transitions in elder care under structural conditions that largely place this responsibility and its costs on individuals.



Holly Dowell is pursuing a master’s degree in the Nonprofit Management program at The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. She was a 2018-2019 Zolberg-IRC Fellow, applying her skills in design and information architecture to communicate research findings to internal teams, research collaborators, organization partners, and general audiences.



Shagana Ehamparam is a graduate student in the Public and Urban Policy program at The New School. Shagana was a Zolberg-IRC Fellow with the Airbel Center at the International Rescue Committee working on IPV prevention in Liberia in 2018-2019.




Emmanuel Guerisoli is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and History at The New School for Social Research in New York City. He studied law in Argentina and France, specializing on criminal, international criminal law, constitutional law and human rights, and a masters on politics and international studies in the United States, focusing on international security and terrorism.  Emma is a Research Assistant at the Zolberg Institute.


Amanda Porter is a PhD student in Public and Urban Policy at The New School. She is passionate about inclusive urban development and working with vulnerable communities to understand, from people on the ground, what it takes to create pathways to a sustainable and equitable urban environment. 


Leah Triber is a politics Ph.D. student at The New School for Social Research, studying U.S. politics. She is interested in the politics of as well as theories and practices of citizenship in the 21st century. She is working on a policy history that analyzes the narratives that have been constructed and employed about immigration from 1980 to present.



Priya Singh holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from The New School University’s Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs. Her current research focuses on issues related to irregular migration, border securitization and political conflicts in the Horn of Africa. Priya’s Masters thesis, “Between Narrative and Borders: The Impact of Labor Migration on Ethiopia’s Returnees” (2018), focused on the consequences of rapid urbanization, unemployment and demographic transition in Ethiopia. Born in , Priya was raised and educated in Peru, Colombia, Laos, Spain, Finland and Panama. Currently, she divides her time between Addis Ababa, New Delhi and New York. 

Claire Harlan is a graduate student at The New School in International Affairs focusing on human rights research and advocacy. Her research interest is in rural to urban migration, land rights, and the effects of poverty and globalization on women. Claire has a BFA from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. Her artwork focuses on the relationships between humans, landscape and the built environment.

Alyssa Kropp is a graduate student in the Transdisciplinary Design MFA program at Parsons. She brings a background in international development and global health to her work, having worked for nonprofits and USAID in countries such as Vietnam, South Africa, Peru, and Nicaragua. Her interests include the intersection of design, ecology, and politics, and how they affect communities across the globe. Her current work explores the impact of climate change on NYC residents’ everyday lives, and the role of sound in urban commons.

Paula Aimi Kawakami Ishihara is a second-year MFA Transdisciplinary Design student at Parsons School of Design. She is now exploring an interdisciplinary world using design-led research tools to develop strategies that allow positive impact to emerge and scale. Her career evolved from research in real estate, to project management, to graphic design, and finally – research and strategy design for social change.

Daniel Horowitz is a teacher, writer, and researcher pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the New School for Public Engagement. He holds a BFA in Media Arts from Northeastern University. Previously, Daniel taught first graders Ecology in Prospect Park with Brooklyn Nature Days and he currently teaches undergraduates Literature & Writing at the School of Visual Arts. His research at the Institute relates to his ongoing project about the ecological crises effecting the Mississippi Gulf Coast – the language and culturing practices of resilience. Daniel is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the Institute’s Arts and Literature journal, Huddled Masses. 

Maya Herman is a second-year M.A. student in the Department of Sociology at The New School for Social Research. She holds a B.A. in and Women Studies and Political Science from Tel Aviv University. Her research interests are national identities, social movements, social justice, migration, post-coloniality, and cultural and historical sociology.



Mónica Salmón Gómez is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Sociology at the New School for Social Research (NSSR). She is a fellow student and the Research Assistant at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. She is an honorary member of the Network of Colombians Victims for Peace Latin America and the Caribbean (Revicpaz-Lac for its initials in Spanish). She holds a BA in International Relations from ITESO and a Masters in Social Sciences from the Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico. Mónica co-founded FM4 Paso Libre (NGO in defense of the human rights of migrants in transit during their journey through Mexico), coordinated it from 2009 to October 2014, and is a current board member. From 2015 to 2016 she was the regional coordinator of knowledge management and networks at Asylum Access Latin America, where she coordinated the Regional Working Group for the Brazil Action Plan (GAR-PAB for its initials in Spanish), a Latin America network of more than 40 civil society organizations that work on international protection. From this position, she encouraged the creation of the Revicpaz-Lac. In , she received the Jalisco Women Award granted by the Jalisco Woman Institute, for her outstanding humanitarian work on behalf of migrants and refugees. In addition, she received the UVM Award for Social Development 2013 and the Irene Robledo García Award 2014 for outstanding women granted by the Guadalajara City Council and is winner of the President Néstor Kirchner Fellowship in its fifth convocation (2015-2016), organized by the National University of San Martin of Argentina and the Latin American Observatory (OLA) at The New School, New York. Her research topics focus on international migration, borders, illegalization, international protection, human rights, and migration policies.

Sarah Beranbaum is a graduate clinical psychology student at The New School. Her research focuses on evaluating the social, cognitive, and biological impact of trauma-informed interventions. Through the Zolberg Institute, Sarah works on Alex Aleinikoff’s podcast, Tempest Tossed, which focuses on U.S. migration policy. Sarah believes in sharing academic knowledge to empower our local and global communities and to create systematic change to support social justice.

Emma Letcher will graduate from Eugene Lang College with a degree in anthropology and interdisciplinary science. With a strong focus on community and social justice, her education has involved the study of public health, human migration, politics, with a specific focus Israel and Palestine. In 2016-2017 she studied in Haifa, in spring 2018 completed a field project in Jordan, and in summer 2018 received an award to study health in Malta. As a program assistant for an NGO dedicated to supporting girls’ health and education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she contributed to grant writing, organized fundraising events, and coordinated volunteer responsibilities. Based on her work with displaced Syrians she co-authored a report based on the findings of the Manufacturing Landscapes: The Politics and Practices of the Jordan Refugee Compact. Emma will complete her senior thesis focused the healthcare support systems for those living with dementia in Malta, interviewing government officials, researchers at the university, and those working locally in the elderly home.

Lyndsey Nuebel is currently a master’s student at the New School for Social Research in the Anthropology Department. Her research interests are centered around transnational spaces, and how bodies, objects, and ideas are translated through their movements and circulations. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of New Orleans. Her previous work includes assisting the Wayuu people of northern Colombia in the fight for their right to their ancestral lands. She has also conducted extensive archaeological excavations across the United States and in Austria, including an excavation of a World War II Tuskegee airman. 

 Clara Marina von Loebenstein is a candidate for the master’s degree in International Affairs at the New School focusing on Conflict and Security. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus in political science, Latin America, and Portuguese from Middlebury College in 2012. Her thesis focused on the actors and motivators behind the Shining Path in Peru. During her undergraduate studies, she was awarded the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship to conduct research on structural and cultural violence and its relationship to terrorism in Peru. She was also awarded the Kathryn R. Davis Critical Language Scholarship for Peace in 2010. After graduating from Middlebury College, Clara worked in the legal field in New York and in Brazil. She worked in immigration, corporate securities, litigation, and criminal law at Fragomen, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office respectively. For the past two years, she has focused on immigration law, participating in pro bono activities as well as volunteering at a Federal Detention Center in Texas to assist detainees with their asylum applications. Currently, Clara works as a Program Associate at the Observatory on Latin America (OLA) at the New School.

Whitney Mapes is a graduate student in the Transdisciplinary Design program at Parsons School of Design, where she uses the design process as a way to understand and address complex, systemic social issues. Her thesis exploration looks at breaking down collective cultural narratives around immigration within the US that limit our ability to see alternative narratives and possible solutions. Prior to graduate school, she earned her B.S. from Stanford University and worked in research, data analysis, and strategy consulting across a range of different industries.


Nam Pham is an experienced design strategist with a demonstrated history of working in advertising and digital product development. In the New School, he pursues the intersection of design and social research with a particular interest in the emergence of new values. His current research focuses on understanding and questioning existing paradigms of care and human communication, with the hope to upkeep and recover the integrity of a personhood.

Clover Reshad is a graduate student in the Politics program at The New School for Social Research. She holds a B.A. in Politics and International Relations from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Before attending the New School, Clover held the position of Coordinator at Kavalari Refugee Camp in Northern Greece. As a Zolberg Student Fellow, Clover has a strong interest in migration, nationalism and sovereignty, and she is currently working on a paper that looks at the issue of “climate refugees” through a postcolonial-feminist lens.


Daniel Smyth is a philosophy MA student at the New School for Social Research, with a focus on applied ethics. He has conducted field work with coffee farmers in Aceh to understand the impact of Fair Trade and has studied in China. When time permits, he enjoys playing soccer. Daniel is currently assisting with research and planning for Zolberg’s recent podcast series, ‘Tempest Tossed.’


Katja Starc Card is an urbanist, researcher, and interdisciplinary designer. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Public and Urban Policy at the New School. Her doctoral research explores the relationship between the state and society at the city level, focusing on responsive and inclusive municipal governance in fragile and limited capacity contexts. While pursuing her Master’s at UCL’s Development Planning Unit in London, spending time in Thailand and later Afghanistan working with NGOs. At the IRC, Katja is focusing on the adaptation of humanitarian response to urban contexts and focusing on looking at ways the IRC can sustain existing relationships with city governments and ensure short term humanitarian programming leads to self-reliance of displaced and marginalized populations and contributes to long-term development goals of the host city. As part of the Fellowship, Katja has traveled to Kampala in January 2019 to explore opportunities for collaboration and coordination between humanitarian agencies, civil society and the municipality of Kampala to meet the needs of its displaced and marginalized residents. 

Max Stearns is a first-year graduate student in the Transdisciplinary Design MFA program at the Parson’s School of Design. Previously, he served as a program director for the City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Max has ceaseless curiosity about the interconnectedness of all things: people, environments, objects, etc. and is a passionate believer in the importance of curiosity, criticality, imagination, and playfulness. He strives to design and build tools with folks, so we can all thrive on our own terms.

Sonia Zhang
is studying MA Anthropology at the New School for Social Research. She completed her degree in B.A. Human Sciences at the University of Oxford in 2017 and spent a year in Yunann and Gansu, China, working with grassroots NGOs with a focus on rural development, education and internal migration. Her interest lies in the intersections between social theories and technology, and her recent projects include a critical examination of loneliness as a public health problem.

Ryan Westphal is a first-year student in the MFA Transdisciplinary Design program. His academic and professional background is in mechanical engineering and product design. He describes himself as quiet, contemplative, collaborative and curious. Ryan hopes to explore the methodologies we use to envision complex issues and find opportunities for design in new fields in impactful ways.

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