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Graduate Student Profiles

International Studies M.A. Students

Ian Campbell
Fall 2015
Advisor: Galen Martin

Ian Lawrence Campbell is an interdisciplinary scholar affiliated with the Departments of International Studies and Conflict and Dispute Resolution. Throughout his tenure as a graduate student, Ian has been focused on the multidisciplinary field of International Conflict Analysis and developing new ways of bridging research interests with a passion for teaching and technology.

Raised between Canada and the United States, Ian was brought up with an intimate awareness of identity constructs through disparate belief systems built around reflections of Canadian and American values. These belief systems were explored in academia through undergraduate research at Florida International University as a Ronald E. McNair fellow culminating in the publishing of an honor’s thesis and through graduate school at the University of Oregon around the awareness of global citizenry.

Separate internships in 2016 and 2017 with NGOs in East Jerusalem and Haifa led to a deepening of knowledge around cross-cultural fluency, grassroots initiatives, and educational programming produced for Palestinian populations and Arab citizen communities in Israel.

In 2017, Ian began a year in the field by traveling first to Geneva, Switzerland, and Thessaloniki, Greece, as a graduate student scholar with the Oxford Consortium of Human Rights for a summer seminar exploring human rights and global ethics vis-à-vis refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons’ freedoms and protections. The year in the Middle East North African region created cultural fluency through the pursuit of Arabic language skills, leaving an indelible impression on Ian’s research interests. Ian’s master’s thesis explores digital communication and identity through the Palestinian digital media response to the recognition of Jerusalem by President Donald J. Trump.

Graduation in summer 2020 will represent a bittersweet achievement for Ian. The bitter, marked by the end of a graduate tenure exploring crossover themes between International Studies and Conflict and Dispute Resolution. And the sweet, defined by the supportive efforts of the dedicated program staff in International Studies and Conflict and Dispute resolution, the guiding efforts of thoughtful thesis committee advisors, and the loving support of friends and family.


Lydia Caudill
Fall 2019
Advisor: David Meek

Lydia Caudill has begun her Master’s in International Studies after taking a winding path, exploring careers and countries, professions and peoples along the way.  These experiences inform who she is and the change she sees possible in the world.

While factors and faces have changed along the way, several points have been consistent in her work and ways, foundational to what she hopes to study and where she places herself in conversations.  She is grounded in her love of nature, a belief that we are stronger because of our differences, and that the perceived dualism between the social and the natural is a farce.

These come together for Lydia in food sovereignty through the poetic dance of social and environmental justice.  This has been a part of her professional life through work in kitchens and organic farms, as an Ag Volunteer in Peace Corps Paraguay, program manager in philanthropy, co-manager on a refugee incubator farm, and co-founding a regional food system coalition.

She also produced a documentary series.  This blog and video series revealed the successes of farmers who had diversified and democratized their food systems, an effort that spanned six South American countries and was powered by bicycle.

She is excited to further explore these topics at the University of Oregon and see how together they can move these conversations forward.

Nino Dgebuadze
Fall 2018
Advisor: Kristin Yarris

Nino was born and raised in Georgia – a tiny country with rich history and traditions at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. She was born in Sokhumi – seaside town of Abkazia region, but grew up in the capital city of Georgia – Tbilisi. Nino has been always fascinated by different cultures and studied abroad multiple times, including in Poland, Latvia and the US.

Following completion of her undergraduate degree after having studied at three different universities, Nino started working with international NGO, IREX on addressing human rights issues in Caucasus region. Inspired by this work, learning about participants’ stories and realizing the need to have community inspired and people-centered development, she decided to pursue her masters degree at UO. Nino is completing concurrent degree in International Studies and Nonprofit Management. The two degrees allow her to bridge the gap between theory and practice, and explore the ways in which practical work can be informed by academia and vice versa.

Nino’s research focuses on intersection of forced displacement, migration, gender and wellbeing of asylum seekers and refugees. Over summer 2019 she conducted her research with refugee women in Greece with the local grassroots organization, Melissa Network. She explores the situation of refugee women in Greece as in transitory country, their access to services and emotional wellbeing. Nino’s goal is to tell refugee stories from women’s perspective and, therefore, have their voices dominate the narrative. Her research has been supported by the George and Conni Slape Fellowship, the Special Opportunities Travel and Research Award, the Thurber Award, and the PPPM Research and Travel Award.

Nino works as a graduate employee at the Study Abroad Office and advises UO students about various study abroad opportunities all around the world. The work allows Nino to devote time to her passion to international education and help students succeed while being abroad.

When not working or writing her thesis, Nino likes to socialize with her friends and cook together, attend music concerts and read books. Recently she revisited her childhood passion of designing clothes, which allows her to explore her creative side.

Matt Fouts
Fall 2019
Advisor: Anita Weiss

Matt graduated from the College of Idaho with a B.A. in Political Economy in 2014 and entered the University of Oregon as a law student in 2016. Matt is a concurrent JD/MA student, with an interest in the islands of Okinawa, Japan and the relationship between Okinawan communities and the islands’ large United States military presence. Matt spent over a year with the JET Programme teaching English at a prefectural Japanese high school in central Okinawa.

Matt’s time at U of O, and membership in both the law and graduate schools, have allowed him to travel, study, and work in various locations. While in the law school, Matt spent a summer working for low-income residents of DeKalb County, Georgia with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, one of the oldest legal-aid organizations in the country. He also spent a summer working for a prosecutor’s office, and had the opportunity to try a criminal jury trial. Matt has been fortunate to return to Japan during his graduate studies, and spent over a year in-country studying Japanese and Okinawan issues. Matt was supported in his time abroad by two competitive awards: the National Security Education Program’s (NSEP) Boren Fellowship, and the Department of Education and U of O’s Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS) Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) award.

Kimberly Gerken
Fall 2019
Advisor: Anita Weiss

Kimberly Gerken grew up in Kingston, Wa and received her B.A. in International Relations and Political Science at the University of Idaho. In 2018-2019, Kimberly served as a Women’s Sports Corps Fellow for Soccer Without Borders in Kampala, Uganda. Her time in Uganda solidified her interest in working with refugee women and girls in East Africa.

Neti Gupta
Fall 2019
Advisor: Yvonne Braun

Neti Gupta is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV). She received the Coverdell Fellowship, and is pursuing her research in English language development.


Dayna Hansberger
Fall 2018
Advisor: Jo Weaver

Dayna’s interest in international studies began during her undergraduate classes in international development and global health. After finishing her bachelor’s degrees and spending three years working for the USAID Bureau of Global Health, Dayna knew she wanted to continue working at the intersection of health and development. Prior to joining the UO International Studies department, she earned her MPH from George Washington University.

Dayna moved to Eugene from Washington, DC, and she came to the UO for the transdisciplinary program that allows her to weave together her global health, environmental studies, economics, design, and medical anthropology interests. In the MA program, Dayna focuses on global health, with an African Studies specialization. Dayna is researching safe sanitation for health improvement, and her thesis examines the factors that influence a household’s decision to purchase and use a latrine, as well as the impact of human-centered design on latrine adoption. Dayna hopes to use her health and international studies education to design effective and human-centered water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions. She spent the summer of 2019 in Ethiopia, where she conducted thesis research in the form of interviews and surveys with rural Ethiopian households and health workers. Dayna’s research is supported by the George and Conni Slape Fellowship, the Special Opportunities Travel and Research Award, and the Thurber Award.

When she’s not at the campus library, Dayna tries to make the most of Eugene’s outdoor activities and proximity to camping. She likes to spend her free time hiking with her dog, pretending she’s a contestant on the Great British Baking Show, and trying new foods. One of Dayna’s favorite things to do is travel, and she has lived, worked, or traveled across 27 countries and five continents (and counting!). Lina Lechlech
Fall 2018
Advisor: Yvonne Braun

Lina was born and raised on a tiny French island called Réunion, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. At 18, after graduating high school, she left her warm home for the gloomy skies of London, where she studied Italian, Spanish and International Relations at the University of Greenwich. Her academic interests were ever-changing until her graduation in 2017, after which she decided to delay her application to Grad school to figure out what she truly wanted to do.

She moved to Cape Town, South Africa, on a whim, to work with Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, the largest local non-profit offering free counseling and legal resources to survivors of sexual violence. She was only supposed to stay 6 months but fell in love with the Western Cape and ended up spending the entire year in Cape Town. At Rape Crisis, Lina worked alongside the Communications and Advocacy teams to coordinate awareness campaigns, write articles, and join advocacy efforts. When she wasn’t at the office, she volunteered at a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their children, where she held a writing skills workshop, amongst other things.

After a life-changing year in South Africa; somehow drawn to gloomy skies once again, Lina moved to Eugene to join the International Studies Department for her M.A. Her research looks at the support services available to survivors of sexual violence in South Africa, with an emphasis on the legal and medical models currently in place and a focus in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal regions. To this extent, Lina spent the summer of 2019 conducting fieldwork in the larger Cape Town and Durban areas, thanks to grants from the Slape Fellowship, the Global Oregon Graduate Research Award, the Special Opps Travel and Research Award, the African Studies Graduate Research fellowship and the Thurber award. She continues her work as an advocate against sexual and gender-based violence through various programs in Eugene and on campus.

When she is not explaining to people where Réunion is on a map, Lina likes to spend time with her dog Ollie, plan future trips to South Africa, talk about Ollie, and lean into the French cliché by having wine and cheese nights.


Alyssa Sperry
Fall 2018
Advisor: Stephen Wooten

Alyssa comes to Eugene from just a short distance up north: Vancouver, Washington. Although Alyssa has claimed the Pacific Northwest her home and has lived there for most of her life, she has resided in several other places in the United States including, Massachusetts, Illinois, and California. Alyssa is a classically trained Pastry Chef, certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Community Herbalist with over 15 years of industry work in the culinary world. After spending some time in the industry, Alyssa realized that she wanted to learn more about how food was representative of culture from a global perspective, not just the production side of food. Before joining the International Studies department, Alyssa earned her B.A. with honors from Washington State University Vancouver, where she studied anthropology and history. She hopes to continue on to a doctoral program after completion of her MA degree.

Alyssa came to the UO to further her research on the salt industry of Jamaica, which she has been conducting since 2016. Alyssa’s original research was looking at salt as a fueling factor in the Atlantic slave trade on the island of Jamaica. Since her project embraces an interdisciplinary approach, pulling from anthropology, history, food studies, and African/Caribbean studies, the International Studies program allowed her to continue that style of research as the program itself is interdisciplinary in nature. For her thesis, Alyssa is researching the topic of salt through the framework of food and identity formation focusing on the island of Jamaica in relation to two African-derived subcultures: Rastafarians and Maroons. The research aims to understand how cultural ideas, food technologies, and beliefs surrounding salt have been transmitted across the generations. Alyssa conducted her funded MA thesis research in Jamaica over summer 2019.  Alyssa’s research has already received recognition in the field of Anthropology and World History as she has presented her research as a plenary speaker at the II International Congress on the Anthropology of Salt in Mexico in 2017 and at the World History Association annual conference in Puerto Rico in 2019.

Alyssa enjoys traveling the world. She has been to South Africa, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and most of the United States, but is hoping more will be added to the list soon! When she does not have her head in the books studying or working on side projects, Alyssa is exploring new restaurants and pubs, cooking and experimenting with new food recipes at home, spending as much time outdoors, watching movies, playing board games, or spending time with her cat. Some fun facts about Alyssa is she is a Sasquatch enthusiast and loves sharks. She even has swum with Leopard sharks before and has a goal to swim with a Great White one day!

Ellen Ziesenhene
Fall 2019
Advisor: Stephen Wooten

Having grown up in Middle Georgia, Ellen is new to the Pacific Northwest. Ellen received her B.A. in Geography at the University of Georgia. Post undergrad, Ellen served as an AmeriCorps member in Cedar Rapids Iowa where she worked in underserved communities in the fields of urban agriculture and energy efficiency. From 2016-2019 Ellen lived in Walto, Guinea working as an Agroforestry Extension Agent with Peace Corps.

Ellen’s research interests lie in the transdisciplinary perspectives of food security and cultural understandings and attitudes specifically in West Africa.