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Graduate Program in International Studies

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Current Students


Recent Achievements

Amy Costa

Graduating M.A. student Amy Costa recently received the award for Best Presentation in the Business and Industry track at the 2012 Virginia Modeling and Simulation Conference.  The Business and Industry track focuses on M&S methodologies and applications in areas related business and industry. A few to name are manufacturing, retail, banking, restaurants etc. Examples of research are, but are not limited to, enterprise decision support, operations research, optimization, forecasting, supply chain, queuing analysis, product design, testing, life cycle support, and more.


Katerina Oskarsson

First Year Ph.D. student, Katerina Oskarsson, just published an article entitled "February Cold Wave Snaps EU Russia Gas Relations" in the Journal of Energy Security.  Her article can be accessed here.





Nick Reese

Second year masters student Nick Reese was invited to speak at the 16th Near and Middle East Civilizations Symposium at the University of Toronto from March 5-7, 2012.  Nick presented his paper, "A Region in Stux: Israel, Stuxnet, and the New Middle East Power Balance" about the impact of the Stuxnet virus on the Middle East as a part of a panel about cyber threats and opportunities.  Nick is studying in the Transnationalism track in GPIS and his main area of research is in inter-state cyber warfare. 



GPIS is proud to announce the selection of second year masters student Nick Reese to the prestigious US State Department Critical Language Scholarship for Turkish.  Every year, the State Department selects approximately 600 students from all disciplines and all levels of study to participate in a program designed to increase the number of American citizens proficient in the thirteen State Department critical languages.  The program is fully funded by the State Department and sends students abroad for an 8-week intensive study program.  Nick was selected for Turkish at the intermediate level and will be studying at the Tömer Institute in Izmir, Turkey.  While there, Nick will be staying with a Turkish family, attending classes 5 days per week, and participating in cultural exchange programs around the country.


Renata Giannini

Recently, Ph.D. student Renata Giannini was invited by the Office of Intercultural Relations to discuss her field research conducted in the summer of 2011 in Haiti as part of their “Faculty Voices” lecture series. Giannini’s research in Haiti focused on issues of gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, specifically in the country of Haiti.

In February of 2012, Giannini will be leaving for the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to conduct the same sort of research on gender-based violence, this time in a true conflict zone. She hopes that this research, performed in conjunction with the Latin American Defense and Security Network, will form the basis for her Ph.D. dissertation.

Savannah Eck

Savannah Eck Heads to U.N. to Learn Advocacy Skills

at Commission on the Status of Women Conference



BOSTON – Savannah Eck of Newport News, a student at Old Dominion University, will gain experience in the art of advocacy before the United Nations through sessions to be held Feb. 25th –March 3rd 2012, in conjunction with meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations headquarters in New York City.


Eck is one of 20 women students chosen from across the nation to participate in the practicum, which offers an opportunity to observe how the United Nations works to address issues requiring multilateral engagement and coordinated action.


She will gain temporary delegate status, attend official and non-government organization (NGO) sessions, and contribute to the official documentation of both official and NGO meetings.


The practicum on the Commission on the Status of Women is sponsored by the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University, Boston; the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the National Women's Studies Association.


In addition to learning about negotiation, advocacy points, and networking, Savannah Eck must complete several assignments, the most important of which is to create an advocacy project when she returns to the Old Dominion University campus.


“We teach the women how important citizen engagement is,” said Laura Roskos, President of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and activist in residence at the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights. She and Amy Agigianthe Center’s founding director, serve as faculty. “They figure out the ropes, learn how to network with NGOs, meet government officials and participate in turning specific proposals into documents that can be adopted by U.N. bodies. This success empowers them to engage in successful civic campaigns in their home environments.”


This will be the fourth practicum at the Commission on the Status of Women. The CSW focuses on gender equality and the advancement of women, with the U.N. drawing representatives of governments to address the problems facing women around the world. This year more than 4,000 registered representatives from NGOs will lobby the delegates about current issues and work to put new ideas on the table. The NGOs engage in hundreds of events, such as performances and panel discussions directed at the local, national and international issues affecting women.  


Three GPIS Ph.D. student recently presented their work at the 43rd annual meeting of the Northeast Political Science Association in Philadelphia, PA.

 Ph.D. candidate Melodee Baines

 presented her dissertation research titled "Women, Illiteracy and Public Participation: Barriers to Transforming Governance in Arab states?" at the 2011 International Studies Association-South Annual Conference, Elon University; the October 2011 Cleveland State University Symposium; the Women’s World 2011 Conference at the University of Ottowa in Canada; the 1st Annual Intercultural Communication Graduate Research Expo, University of Maryland; the 2011 Virginia Social Science Association Annual Conference at Old Dominion University; and the 5th annual Virginia Council of Graduate Schools Graduate Student Research Forum in Richmond VA.

Melodee presents her dissertation research at the University of Maryland in April of 2011.


Melodee at the 5th annual Virginia Council of Graduate Schools Graduate Student Research Forum in February, 2011.

In June 2011, she also co-presented a project titled "Obstacles to and victims in development: The treatment of illiterate women in Egyptian and Moroccan media and society" at the Isis Center for Women and Development in Fes, Morocco.

Melodee, with co-presenter Natalie McGarry, in Morocco.

Melodee’s paper titled "Obstacles to and victims in development: The treatment of illiterate women in Egyptian and Moroccan media and society", co-authored with Natalie McGarry of the Brookings Institution, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of New Media and as a book chapter in a Moroccan publication called, Women and the New Media in the Mediterranean Region.

 Ph.D. student Shiwei Jiang

has been selected as the recipient of the 2011-2012 Linda Hyatt Wilson Graduate Scholarship in China Studies.

Shiwei in Washington D.C. (Left)

Shiwei has also been invited by the Chinese Embassy to write suggestions for both the development of the Confucius Institute in the US as well as for the "National medium and long-term educational reform and development project" summary.

GPIS students Wiebke Lamer, Lauren McKee, Erika Frydenlund, Ning Liao, and Tasawar Baig have been selected to present papers at the annual International Studies Association international conference in San, Deigo, CA in April 2012.

GPIS Ph.D. students Wiebke Lamer, Lauren McKee, Renata Giannini, and Alessandro Shimabukuro have been invited to present papers at the annual Northeast Political Science Association conference in Philadelphia in November of 2011.

Ph.D. student Lauren McKee

 is the 2011-2012 recipient of the Norfolk Branch of the American Association of University Women scholarship.

Lauren McKee's paper, “The Rise and Fall of Charismatic Leaders: How Social Media is Helping Redefine Leadership Roles in the Arab Spring,” has been chosen by the 2012 Virginia Social Science Association graduate paper award committee as this year's best paper. She will attend the VSSA annual meeting on March 24 to receive her award and present her paper. Congratulations to Lauren!

Lauren in Japan








Ph.D student Renata Giannini

participated in the Latin America Studies Association International Conference held in Toronto, Canada from October 6th to 9th, where she presented a paper entitled "Género y fuerzas armadas en América Latina: un análisis sobre la incorporación de las mujeres en las instituciones militares de la región", which analyzed the incorporation of women in the armed forces of Latin America and their participation in peacekeeping operations. 

In November of 2010, Renata was invited by the Latin America Defense and Security Network (RESDAL) to represent the organization at the "IV Forum of Confidence Building Measures and Security", during a meeting of the Commission of Hemispheric Security from Organization of American States (OAS) in Lima, Peru. Renata spoke about the Latin American countries defense budget and transparency.

Renata (front row, second from left) at the Commission of Hemispheric Security from Organization of American States (OAS) in Lima, Peru.


Ph.D student Wiebke Lamer

was awarded a $7,000 P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship for the academic year 2010/11 and successfully applied for a one-time renewal for the 2011/12. She can use the award for expenses such as tuition, registration fees, maintenance and other academic costs.

The P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship (IPS) Fund was established in 1949 to provide scholarships for international women students to pursue graduate study in the United States and Canada.

P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), one of the pioneer societies for women, was founded on January 21, 1869, by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Originally a small campus friendship society, P.E.O. soon blossomed to include women off campus. Today, P.E.O. has grown from that tiny membership of seven to almost a quarter of a million members in chapters in the United States and Canada. The P.E.O. Sisterhood is passionate about its mission: promoting educational opportunities for women. The sisterhood proudly makes a difference in women's lives with six philanthropies that include ownership of a two-year women's college, Cottey College, and five programs that provide higher educational assistance: P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund, P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund, P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education, P.E.O. Scholar Awards and P.E.O. STAR Scholarship. P.E.O. is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.



Ph.D. student Roopa Swaminathan

A new nongovernmental organization called The Arrow Project is the brainchild of GPIS Ph.D. student Roopa Swaminathan.

The Arrow Project (TAP) was formed with the clear purpose of empowering, protecting and finally, freeing children. TAP believes that we – the collective human race – need to invest in children, tap their potentials and help launch them into the future. Over the course of the next few decades, TAP will reach out and try and save as many deprived children of the world as possible and it will do it, one rural, poverty-stricken village at a time.

TAP's long-term goals include opening safe half-way houses and schools for underprivileged kids and setting up scholarships for children to go to college. From slum kids in Mumbai to ragpickers in South Africa, from domestic workers from the Philippines to underprivileged orphans from Romania, from sexually trafficked lost souls from niehgboring Nepal to children sold in bonded labor in Somalia, from the girl child who has no access to clean sanitary facilities in India to children of all ages and from all parts of the world who have no means to buy school supplies--it's the long-term goals of TAP to tackle all of the above issues, albeit one or two issue at a time.

For more information or to become involved, please visit The Arrow Project website at http://www.thearrowproject.org/index.html.