Elsa Ransom joined the SSRC in June 2007 and is now the Assistant Director of the IDRF program. She received her BA in political science and Russian studies from UCLA and her MA in Russian and Central Asian studies from Harvard. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia as an English teacher and Tashkent, Uzbekistan as an intern for the US Embassy and then again as a graduate student conducting research on water resource management. Prior to joining the SSRC, Elsa worked at the Open Society Institute on a fellowship program that brought students from the former Soviet Union to the United States for graduate studies.
Marina Recio, Program Assistant, assists with qualitative and quantitative analysis in support of Measure of America’s work. Among her other duties, she tends to the budget, logistics, and online presence of Measure of America. She recently graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Fordham University with a BA in Political Science and Communication and Media Studies. She was previously an intern at MSNBC and TIME Inc., and has contributed to NBC News Latino and The Fordham Observer.
Jason Rhody directs the Digital Culture program, Social Data Initiative, and co-directs the Media & Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Previously, he served as senior program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), where he helped create the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH). In that role, he developed and managed multiple grant programs that enabled scholars, librarians, and archivists to harness emerging technologies to advance research, encourage scholarly inquiry of digital culture, and foster collaboration across international and disciplinary boundaries. He created and directed joint grant programs with Jisc in the UK and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in Germany, and contributed to collaborations with the Research Councils UK, FAPESP in Brazil, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Department of Energy (DOE). He received his PhD in English from the University of Maryland where, prior to joining NEH in 2003, he managed and advised digital humanities projects at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and taught courses in literature and digital media.
Elizabeth Rilling is the new program assistant for Scholarly Borderlands. Elizabeth has her bachelor’s degree in political science and environmental studies from Adelphi University. She recently completed an energy and climate change internship at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Sarah Safaie joined the SSRC in May 2017 as executive assistant in the Executive Director’s Office. She double majored in psychology and jazz saxophone performance at the New School, where she obtained her BA and MA, and worked in the cognitive neuroscience and cognitive science labs. Her master’s research centered around the phenomenon of involuntary musical imagery, a.k.a.“earworms.” In addition to her work at the Council, Safaie is a musician and plays baritone sax in the avant-noise quartet, Wavetable.
Anna Meg Sampietro is the program coordinator for the DSD Program. Prior to joining the SSRC, Sampietro interned with two United Nations entities—the Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States and the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations. She joined the DSD Program in 2013. Sampietro holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution and a BA in international studies from Abilene Christian University.
Daniella Sarnoff is the director of the International Dissertation Research Fellowship Program (IDRF) at the Social Science Research Council. Dr. Sarnoff holds a PhD in European history and works on extremist politics in the interwar years and the intersections of culture and politics, especially gender ideology, domesticity, and consumption. Before joining the Council in 2008, Dr. Sarnoff taught at Xavier University, Fordham University, and New York University. She has published in journals and in edited volumes on the topics of French fascism, women’s suffrage, and gender and fascism. Her most recent piece is “An Overview of Women and Gender in French Fascism” published in The French Right Between the Wars: Political and Intellectual Movements from Conservatism to Fascism (Berghahn Books, 2014).
Renata Segura is currently the Associate Director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum of the Social Science Research Council, which she joined in September 2002. As such, she has overseen dozens of research projects and workshops on challenges to democratic governance and peace in Latin America and the Caribbean, and on topics ranging from drug policy and food security to gender policies in the continent. She has written on constitutionalism, conflict prevention and resolution, drug policy, mining and diaspora politics, among other topics. Her most recent publication is the report “Made in Havana: How Colombia and the FARC decided to End the War”, published by IPI. She is also the editor, together with Josh DeWind, of the book “Convergent Interests? How Diaspora–Government Relations Shape United States’ Foreign Policy”. Prior to coming to the United States, she worked for the research center CINEP in Bogotá, where she was a researcher on several projects related to civil society, conflict and political crisis. In addition to her academic background, Renata worked for several years as a reporter for a nationally televised news program and a widely-read news magazine. Renata received her Ph.D. from the political science department, New School for Social Research. She also holds an M.A. in comparative politics from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. in political science from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá.
Seteney Shami has been with the Social Science Research Council since July 1999 and is director of the InterAsia Program as well as the Middle East and North Africa Program. She also currently serves as founding director of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS), a regional nonprofit organization headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon. She received her doctorate in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. Shami's most recent publication is an co-edited volume (with Cynthia Miller-Idriss) entitled Middle East Studies for the New Millennium: Infrastructures of Knowledge (SSRC and NYU Press 2016). A forthcoming volume is co-authored with Mitchell Stevens and Cynthia Miller-Idriss entitled Seeing the World: How U.S. Universities make Knowledge in a Global Era (Princeton University Press 2018). Seteney Shami has taught at Yarmouk University, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Stockholm University. She served on the editorial boards of several publications, including Central Asian Survey, The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnos, and International Migration Review.
Jennifer Sherys-Rivet is the program assistant for the African Peacebuilding Network program. She received her BS in global studies with a minor in health from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has worked twice in Ghana and participated in a language immersion program in Barcelona, Spain. Prior to joining the SSRC, Jennifer worked with the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace and Economic Security Program, the Lesley University Women’s Center, and Horizons Children’s Center. Her primary research interests include the effects of conflict and peacebuilding on public health, particularly women’s health.
Leon V. Sigal is director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York. His book, Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea, published by Princeton University Press, was one of five nominees for the Lionel Gelber Prize as the most outstanding book in international relations for 1997-98 and was named the 1998 book of distinction by the American Academy of Diplomacy. His most recent book, Negotiating Minefields: The Landmines Ban in American Politics, was published by Routledge in 2006. Sigal was a member of the editorial board of The New York Times from 1989 to 1995. He served in the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, in 1979 as International Affairs Fellow and in 1980 as Special Assistant to the Director. He was a Rockefeller Younger Scholar in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution in 1972-1974 and a guest scholar there in 1981-1984. From 1974 to 1989 he was a professor of government at Wesleyan University. He was an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs from 1985 to 1989 and from 1996 to 2000 and a visiting lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School in 1988 and 2000. Sigal is also the author of Reporters and Officials: The Organization and Politics of Newsmaking, Alliance Security: NATO and the No-First-Use Question (with John Steinbruner), Nuclear Forces in Europe: Enduring Dilemmas, Present Prospects, Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945, and Hang Separately: Cooperative Security Between the United States and Russia, 1985-1994, as well as numerous articles in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic Monthly, and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, among others. He edited The Changing Dynamics of U.S. Defense Spending.
Rajat Singh joins the Council as executive assistant for the President’s Office. Rajat earned his BA in Latin from Boston University and an MA in anthropology from The New School for Social Research. Prior to joining the Council, Rajat was a graduate assistant to Ann Laura Stoler (The New School) and Neni Panourgiá (Columbia). Most recently, he served as assistant to the dean of the School of Fashion at Parson School of Design, as well as program administrator for the graduate programs in the school. Rajat writes creative nonfiction, and is assembling a collection of essays that explore South Asian culture as a site of queer melancholy. His work appears in StoryQuarterly, Lapham’s Quarterly, LitHub, The Offing, The Millions, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. He is a contributor for Catapult magazine. His work has been longlisted for the Notting Hill Editions 2017 essay prize. He has fellowships from the Tin House Summer Workshop and the Lambda Literary Writing Retreat and was an artist resident at the Spruceton Inn.
Laura Sitkin, MEd, language and literacy, Harvard University, and BA, Latin American studies, University of Miami, has been with the Council since July 2010 and is executive coordinator and manager of program relations in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Strategic Learning and Special Initiatives.
Samuel Spies is program officer in the Media & Democracy program and heads its Disinformation Research Mapping Initiative. He has a PhD in anthropology from Temple University. For his dissertation fieldwork, he studied responses to censorship at online media outlets in Jordan. Before turning to the social sciences, he worked in newspaper, online, and wire-service journalism. .
John St. Bernard is a travel professional handling the SSRC Travel Desk. He has earned a degree in hospitality management, as well as a bachelor of arts in African studies from Hunter College. He has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and several American states. Europe, Asia, and African are on his bucket list. John is very active in his community, and supports two community gardens and is the president of his building tenants association. In his spare time he loves attending concerts, dancing, and cooking.
Sabrina joined CPPF in May 2012. She received her M.A. in Political Science from the University of Central Florida, where she graduated summa cum laude in August 2012. She was the recipient of the College of Graduate Studies Provost Fellowship and worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant while she completed her program. Her research focused on the work of international organizations. Her graduate thesis focused on the UN mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) and the UN mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA). She has contributed a chapter to the book The Politics and Policies of Relief, Aid and Reconstruction (ed. Fulvio Attinà) titled "The UN and Genocide: A Comparative Analysis of Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia." As a graduate student, she presented research at both national and international conferences. She has a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in French also from the University of Central Florida, where she graduated cum laude and with honors in the major. Sabrina was born and raised in Uruguay and speaks fluent Spanish.
Patrice Thomas graduated from the Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York with a bachelor’s in accounting in 2018, with a minor in business administration. She has held finance positions at various nonprofits, including amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, Common Ground, and the Institute for Community Living and Services for the Underserved.
Mwangi Thuita is the communications and editorial assistant for the African Peacebuilding Network. He recently received his BA from Cornell University, where he majored in political science and philosophy, and is particularly interested in African political institutions, development economics, intellectual history, and political philosophy. While in college he wrote for and edited multiple campus publications including Ezra’s Archives and the Cornell Claritas. Prior to joining the SSRC, Mwangi was an intern for the APN, and has previously worked as a research assistant in Cornell’s Philosophy Department on projects at the intersection of global health, business ethics, and human rights.
Takuya Toda-Ozaki is the program manager of the SSRC Tokyo Office. He has been with the Abe Fellowship Program since 1994. He studied contemporary philosophy at the University of Tsukuba and received a BA in comparative cultural study from the National Institution for Academic Degree and University Evaluation, Japan. His current intellectual interests include politics and nationalism in Japan.
Van Bich Thi Tran is associate director of the Vietnam Program and director of the SSRC Vietnam Data Project. Since 2000, Tran has worked on program development, planning, coordination, management, implementation, and evaluation. She holds a master of law in international and comparative law from Columbia University, a juris doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law, and two bachelor’s degrees, one in fine arts and the other in education, with a minor in development studies. She also has master’s level training in library and information science at Queens College, New York. Before joining the Council in 2000, Tran was a staff attorney for the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa and carried out advocacy, litigation for indigent clients, and community legal education programs to promote and enforce health-related and other public benefits and ensure equal justice for all. From 1997–99, she volunteered as a full-time lecturer at two leading universities in Vietnam and served as the Vietnam country coordinator for Volunteers in Asia (now VIA). Her publications include Helmet Day! Lessons Learned on Vietnam’s Road to Healthy Behavior (an SSRC Report, 2010).
Vina Tran is executive coordinator in the President’s Office. She has over a decade of experience working in higher education. Prior to joining the Council, she was the executive director for decanal affairs in the Division of Social Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University. At Columbia, she worked at the Women Creating Change initiative at the Center for the Study of Social Difference; the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality; and the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She holds a master’s degree in gender, sexuality and cultural studies from the University of Manchester and a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in women's studies from Pennsylvania State University. She is currently a graduate fellow for the Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research on women and girls of color while pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Kris-Stella Trump is program director for the Anxieties of Democracy program. Together with Jason Rhody (program director for the Digital Culture program), she also co-leads the Media & Democracy project. Kris-Stella is a political scientist with a specialization in political psychology, and her research agenda focuses on perceptions of deservingness, public reactions to income inequality, and the consequences of public policy. She received her PhD in Political Science from Harvard University in 2013, and holds an M.Phil in European Politics from Oxford University and a BA in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University. Her work has appeared in journals including The Journal of Politics and the British Journal of Political Science. Prior to joining the SSRC, Kris-Stella worked at the Office of Evaluation Sciences, where she designed and ran behavioral science field experiments to improve public policy. She has also held positions as research associate at IMPAQ, Int., and as college fellow at Harvard University.
Rodrigo Ugarte is the editorial assistant of Items: Insights from the Social Sciences. He has written about deported undocumented veterans, Jewish Argentine troops during the Falklands War, World War II female aviators, and various other topics for Remezcla and War Is Boring. Ugarte graduated with a BA in writing from Ithaca College.
Prachi joined CPPF in July 2017. She is a graduate of the George Washington University, and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a concentration in Security Policy. Prior to joining CPPF, Prachi worked as a Research Associate at the Program on Extremism in Washington, D.C. At the Program, she was primarily responsible for publishing the GW Extremism Tracker, a monthly update detailing terrorism-related activities and legal proceedings in the United States. In July 2017, she published a Lawfare article titled "The Islamic State's Married Ideology: Something Borrowed, Something New," in which she profiled and examined Islamic State enthusiasts who were inspired primarily by al-Qaeda ideologues. Prachi also worked at The Antiquities Coalition, another D.C.-based think tank, where she examined the effects of Islamic State-perpetrated cultural racketeering. She contributed to the Coalition’s project of building a geopolitical heat map to track antiquity looting across the MENA region. .