Current Fellows

CASA I Fellows 2023-2024 in Jordan

We have another talented group of Fellows for the 2023-2024 year studying with our Qasid Institute faculty in Amman. You are welcome to review their bios below.

Abdulla Ahmed graduated from Hunter College at The City University of New York with a BA in Human Biology and Arabic. As an undergraduate student, he was the recipient of a FLAS fellowship and Critical Language Scholarship which allowed him to study Arabic in Morocco and Jordan. His interests include medicine, history, Classical Arabic, and Islamic Studies. Following CASA, he hopes to pursue a career in medicine. 

Emily Atieh recently graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Anthropology, along with minors in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic. She previously studied Arabic through a Critical Language scholarship in 2022 in Amman, Jordan. In addition, she has studied in Beirut, Lebanon and Rabat, Morocco. Emily is looking forward to returning to Jordan for Arabic study, as she is interested in languages, travel, and cross-cultural connection! 

Emre Benoit-Savci received a BA in Islamic studies from McGill University in 2020 and a MA in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2023. His research interests include early Islamic historiography and the formation of Islamic sectarian identity in the high 
caliphal and early middle periods. After CASA, he intends to start his Ph.D studies. 

Calista Boyd is a PhD student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her field is comparative politics, with research interests in governing institutions, civil society, and social movements. After CASA, she hopes to conduct fieldwork for her dissertation research. 

Lily Flick recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BA in Global Studies and Arabic. She is particularly interested in regional conflict, diplomacy, and youth social movements in the Levant. Following her time as a CASA fellow, she is looking forward to joining Georgetown’s Master of Science in Foreign Service Class of 2026.  

Ivana Gabriele-Smith graduated from the University of Oxford with an MSc in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. She received her BA in Arabic and Philosophy from Georgetown University. In 2016, she was awarded a scholarship to study Arabic in Jordan as a participant in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). In 2020, she returned to Jordan to study at CIEE. Her interests include Arabic literature and philosophy. 

Ryan Geitner is a 2021 graduate of Duke University with B.A.s in Political Science (Security, Peace, and Conflict) and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Interregional: Arabic and Mandarin). She spent three semesters studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan; two of which were supported by the Boren Scholarship. For the past year, Ryan has been working as a Research Officer for a Monitoring & Evaluation firm in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Her interests include visual discourses around the destruction of infrastructure, running, backpacking, and little jokes. 

Amal Haddad is a recent graduate of Swarthmore College, where she double majored in English Literature and Sociology & Anthropology and wrote an honors thesis on Jordanian nationalism and Jordanian and Palestinian history. She likes Liz Phair, Diet Coke, and reading novels in 

Ali Hassani is a PhD student in comparative literature at Yale University focusing on modern Arabic, French, and German literature and intellectual history. He received his BA in history and comparative literature at Columbia University, where he wrote his thesis on the works of Tayeb 
Salih and W.G. Sebald. 

Audrey Kost is a student in the Dual BA Program between Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris, where she studies Middle Eastern history and economics. She has interned with the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia and studied Arabic through Critical Language Scholarships during college. Her interests include political economy, migration, and environmentalism. 

Emma Lane graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2022 with a BA in International Studies and Arabic. She recently completed the Arabic Flagship Capstone program where she studied Arabic in Meknes, Morocco for a year and interned at a private clinic. Her research interests include the historical and cultural connections between the Middle East and Latin America, and women’s healthcare issues in the Arab world. 

Lena Maghraoui studies environmental science at the University of Chicago. She hopes to conduct research on water scarcity as a result of climate change in Jordan. She later plans to earn a law degree, which will allow her to pursue her interest of working at the intersection of climate change and human rights.  

Brynn Morse recently completed a BA in Middle East Studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University, where she participated in research on Islamist political parties and authoritarian use of gender reform for legitimation. Brynn has interests in diplomacy, language acquisition, data analysis, and more recently international business. 

Bridget Peak is an arts educator and researcher with work experience across Palestine, Greece, Jordan, Ghana, Thailand, Indonesia, and Philadelphia, PA, USA. She holds a BA in Political Science from Wellesley College, and, most recently, worked in the Art Education Department of Sultan Qaboos University in Oman on a Fulbright Fellowship. Her interests include art museums, hiking, and studying Arabic. 

Mackenzie Poust graduated in May 2023 from Georgetown University with an MA in Arab Studies. Her thesis focused on the women’s movement in Jordan. She previously attended the University of Mary Washington, receiving a BA in Religious Studies in 2019, as well as a certificate in Middle Eastern Studies with a concentration in Arabic. Her academic interests include gender, social organizations, and activism in Jordan and the Levant. She looks forward to furthering her study of Arabic while in the CASA program to continue her research in the future. 

Zachariah Qureshi is a global business and Middle East studies major at Brigham Young University. He is interested in venture capital and private equity in emerging Middle Eastern and African markets and US foreign policy. He speaks Arabic, Dutch, and Spanish. Zach is a Boren 

George Rivas is a University of Arizona graduate with a BA in Political Science and Arabic. He has lived and studied abroad in Spain and Morocco and is a recipient of the Arabic Flagship Capstone Program Certificate. He hopes to pursue a career in diplomacy. 

Kobe Spells is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied Political Science and Arab Cultures with a minor in Public Policy. This past year, he taught English, hip hop dance, and debate skills to Palestinian students on a Fulbright grant. Kobe’s interests include moral psychology, asymmetric conflict resolution, and learning how to freestyle in Arabic. 

Dikla Taylor-Sheinman recently graduated with an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago, where she also completed her BA in History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She spent a semester during her undergraduate degree studying Islamic Civilizations and Arabic in Cairo, Egypt. Her research interests include the modern history of Israel-Palestine, women’s movements, and the politics of Jewish identity. 

Alika Zangieva is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Her research areas include Ottoman and modern Middle Eastern history, the Caucasus, Russian and Eurasian history, Islamic studies, Anthropology, empire, and migration. Prior to doctoral studies, Alika worked at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., where she was Associate Editor of its flagship publication, The Middle East Journal. Alika completed her B.A. in International Affairs at George Washington University. 

CASA I Fellows 2023-2024 in Morocco

We have another talented group of Fellows for the 2023-2024 year studying with our AALIM Institute faculty in Meknes. You are welcome to review their bios below.

Courtland Blake recently graduated from Virginia Tech with a double major in International Relations and Arabic. During her undergraduate program, she spent a year studying abroad at the American University in Cairo Tahrir Square campus and also studied at the Middlebury Arabic Language school. Her interests include history, foreign policy, languages, hiking, traveling, and reading. 

Elizabeth Concepcion recently graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in history. She is interested in the history of public health in the Middle East. After CASA, she hopes to pursue graduate studies that build on her interest in the history of science and Middle Eastern history. 

Zachary Culbertson recently graduated with his Master’s in Arab Studies with a focus on political structures from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He also completed his undergraduate degree in regional studies of the Middle East and North Africa at the same university. He hopes to apply his Arabic skills to a future career in diplomacy or law. 

Alexa Davis recently graduated from Emory University with BAs in Psychology & Linguistics and Arabic. During her time at Emory, she completed two years at the Oxford College; studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, and London, England; participated in Critical Language Scholars; and completed undergraduate research. After CASA, Alexa hopes to obtain an MA in Politics of the Middle East and work in diplomacy. 

Rory Fitzpatrick recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law in addition to Arabic. He studies in Meknes as part of the 2022-2023 Arabic Flagship Program. He is looking forward to further developing his understanding of Moroccan Darija. 

Ryann Hubbart recently graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in international studies and a BS in economics. She was twice awarded a Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic, studying in Jordan and Oman. She is interested in the intellectual and political history of decolonization in North and sub-Saharan Africa, especially that of settler colonies. 

Jannah Kalai graduated with an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University where her academic research centered around authoritarian governance, the conflict-development nexus, and Arabic literature. She holds a BA in international relations from Boston University. Following CASA, she hopes to work in conflict analysis and prevention. 

Erin Kelleher is a PhD student in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies’ history track at the University of Texas at Austin. She is interested in the Ottoman Empire’s enduring sociocultural impact and continued influence on Tunisia during the period of French colonial rule. 

Mohammad Lotfi recently graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, with a Bachelor's Degree in Security Studies, and Howard University’s Air Force ROTC program. Following CASA, he will enter active duty in the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant.  

Iam Mars studied linguistics and Arabic studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His studies primarily lie in the philosophy of language and the law. Iam completed his capstone year in Meknes, Morocco, where he would later become resident director for another study abroad program. Iam intends on attending law school after CASA. 

Lucas Meyer-Lee graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in History, Culture, and Interpretation Theory and Peace & Conflict Studies. Lucas’ research interests include historical reproduction, comparative literature, mass incarceration, and literary theory. Following CASA, Lucas will begin a fellowship with Quaker Voluntary Service. 

Ella Nasi recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and completed the Privilege and Poverty Academic Cluster at Middlebury College. She fell in love with studying Arabic in her second year at Middlebury, and in addition to taking academic classes, she deepened her learning through the Critical Language Scholarship virtually based in Meknes, Morocco during the summer of 2021. After finishing CASA, she hopes to gain work experience across a variety of mental healthcare domains before pursuing graduate studies in clinical psychology. 

Juan Ramirez is a PhD student in history at Georgetown University researching the history of capitalism in 19th and 20th century North Africa, especially Tunisia. He previously graduated from Georgetown’s MA in Arab Studies program. Prior to his graduate studies, he researched and wrote on the political and business environments in the Middle East and North Africa for five years, having lived in Morocco, Tunisia, and Oman. He obtained a BA in political science from Columbia University and is a first-generation college graduate. 

Charles Sills is a PhD student studying Syrian history at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis). His recent work reconsiders the legacy of American archaeological extraction in Mandate Syria, and American cultural institutions’ plunder of Syrian antiquities during the interwar period. He joined the history PhD program at UC-Davis after a brief stint at the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he began his doctorate in history in 2019. Before moving to Lebanon, Charles earned a Master’s in history at the University of Georgia and bachelor’s degrees in history and political science at Georgia State University. In 2022, he studied Arabic in Tangier, Morocco as a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) fellow. After CASA, Charles looks forward to completing his PhD and pursuing a career in academia. 

Julia Smith studied International Studies and Community Development at Covenant College and she recently completed the CASA@AUC Fellowship at the American University in Cairo. Her academic interests include Arabic literature, politics and religion, and global development 
strategies. When she’s not studying, she enjoys running, hiking and camping, and traveling. 

Livian Stokes is a recent graduate with a first class undergraduate degree in International Relations and Arabic from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She previously took a gap year in Rabat, Morocco, and also studied abroad in Amman, Jordan at the Qasid Institute. Her academic interests focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict and political violence in the Arab world. She has been studying Arabic for six years and is honoured to be a CASA fellow. 


CASA II Fellows 2023-2024 in Jordan

Spring 2024

Jack Carew is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale University where he specializes in parasitology and vector biology. Prior to his doctoral studies, Jack completed CASA I in Jordan and a Fulbright student research fellowship in Morocco studying environmental determinants of leishmaniasis transmission. He holds an MPH from the University of Vermont and a BA in comparative literature from Middlebury College.

Tate Crossley is a Ph.D. student in Linguistics at the University of Arizona. His research interests revolve around the phonology of Jordanian Arabic and language pedagogy for non-native speakers. He intends on teaching Arabic and leading a study abroad program. 

Allison Gibeily is a Ph.D. candidate in English and a Mellon cluster fellow in Middle East and North African Studies at Northwestern University. Her research centers around embodied knowledge in global eighteenth-century literature, asking specifically how post-classical Arabic travel writing by inexpert authors gave shape to European and Arab enlightenment thinking.

Alex Jreisat, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, explores borders, circulation, law, and kinship in the 20th-century Levant. A writer, educator, and translator, he also has an interest in digital humanities, including 3D modeling and machine learning. He co-manages the Ruqʿah Reader project, aimed at making Arabic handwriting machine readable.

Jérémie Langlois is a Ph.D. student in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He studies contentious politics and institutional change, with a specific focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Jérémie earned his M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University.

Richard Nedjat-Haiem is a PhD candidate in the Comparative Literature Program at UC Santa Barbara. His research interests include Middle Eastern socio-linguistics, performance and gender studies, ethnomusicology, and anthropology. His prospective dissertation is entitled Pluri-Arabism: Language Change in Arabic Popular Culture. Richard holds an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic from the University of Chicago and a BA from UCLA. He is fluent in English, Persian, Arabic (specializing in various dialects), and French.

Ali M. Ugurlu is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University’s Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies department. His work straddles the intellectual history of the late Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East and the histories of global capitalism.

CASA III Fellows 2023-2024 in Morocco

Abigail Krasner Balbale is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History at New York University. Her research focuses on the Islamic west in the medieval period, with a particular interest in comparing written sources and material culture.

Eric Calderwood is an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of two books: Colonial al-Andalus: Spain and the Making of Modern Moroccan Culture (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018) and On Earth or in Poems: The Many Lives of al-Andalus (Harvard University Press, 2023). He is currently working on a new book project about multilingual art forms.

Lauren E. Osborne is an Associate Professor of Religion at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Washington. Her current book project, Sensing the Qur’an, focuses on the role of the human senses both in and in relation to the Qur’an. Her previous research on the recitation of the Qur’an and other sounds of Islam will be published in her forthcoming book, Hearing Islam.

Elizabeth Claire Saylor is an Assistant Professor of Arabic at North Carolina State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Arabic Literature from the University of California, Berkeley (2015) and a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University (2005), where she studied Arabic, French, German, and Italian literatures. Her teaching and research interests include the Arabic language, Arab women’s literature, the Arabic novel, mahjar literature, early Syrian immigration to North and South America, as well as music, film, and cultural arts of the Arab world.

Maria Lebedeva Swanson, Associate Professor, obtained an MA from Moscow State
University (Russia) and a Ph.D. from The University of Arizona, majoring in Arabic literature, minoring in Russian and Slavic studies, and teaching Arabic as a foreign language. Her research areas include Mahjari literature, Russian-Ukrainian-Arabic cultural ties, and sociolinguistics. She is currently teaching the Arabic language, literature, and culture at the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD).

Paraska Tolan-Szkilnik is an Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University. Her book, Maghreb Noir: The Militant-Artists of North Africa and the Struggle for a Pan-African, Postcolonial Future (Stanford, 2023), tells the story of pan-African activism in the post-colonial Maghreb. She has published articles for Monde(s), World Art, Jadaliyya, the Arab Studies Journal, and the International Journal of Middle East Studies, amongst others. Paraska spends most of her free time drawing and is excited to draw in Meknes.