Program on Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations 2014-15 Student Fellows Selected


The Program on Religion, Diplomacy and International Relations (PORDIR) has selected seventeen 2014-15 Fellows in Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations through a competitive application process. PORDIR fellows participate in weekly lunch seminars, conduct original research, and participate PORDIR's annual colloquium.

About the Fellows:

Domagoj Babić ('16) comes from Šibenik, Croatia to the Economics Department, obtaining certificates in German language and culture and finance. He worked for the Croatian government as a member of a working group on youth policy (2011), interned at IFO institute for economic research in Munich, Germany, and worked as a research assistant on foreign direct investments in the EU (2014). He did research for European Council on Foreign Relations' Scorecard, and has published in European Energy Review. He enjoys rowing, reading and history.

Wardah Bari is a junior student in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and pursuing certificates in the Values for Public Life and Global Health and Policy programs. At Princeton, she is a member of the Religious Life Council, an inter-faith dialogue group, and involved in many service organizations, as well as the International Relations Council. Her interest in religion, human rights, and peace and conflict has extended beyond the Princeton community to programs around the world. Wardah has studied peace and conflict issues in England, Northern Ireland, Jordan, as well as Thailand and Burma, focusing on comparing issues of different ethnic and religious communities. As a recipient of the Davis Projects for Peace, she worked with refugee communities in Jordan to bring Syrian, Jordanian, and Palestinian children together through an educational and leadership development program by exploring the arts and poetry. She hopes to continue to learn more about international human rights, religion and peace to one day pursue a career in public service. 

William Beacom is a senior at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs who is pursuing a certificate in East Asian Studies. His independent research focuses on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Chinese investment and influence in Central Asia. Having lived and conducted field research in Central Asia, his personal ambitions for PORDIR include exploring the interaction between independence narratives and Islamic identity in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Hailing from Calgary, Alberta, William is not only an outdoors enthusiast but is also interested in Canadian trade policy: William has served as an Economic and Trade Policy Intern at the Embassy of Canada to the United States and has conducted research on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Before coming to Princeton, William was a Grant McEwan scholar at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, where he helped lead an Initiatives for Peace conference in the Philippines on the Mindanao conflict. The conference bridged the Muslim minority and Christian majority for interfaith NGO workshops, and inspired his participation in this fellowship. He is also a co-founder of Princeton Talks, a forum for student speakers on campus. 

Isabella Chen is a senior in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs where she concentrates on Human Welfare and Social Policy. Aside from English, she is fluent in Chinese and has studied Spanish. Although her summer experiences and academic pursuits have primarily been focused on domestic policy, she plans to expand her knowledge in international affairs and how religion impacts international relations, crisis diplomacy, and peace negotiations. She is especially interested in exploring the religious setting (or lack thereof) of China and its implications in the global community. As a former member of Princeton Mock Trial, Isabella plans on attending law school in the near future and hopes to pursue a career in international law/litigation.

Katherine Clifton is senior in the English department with a certificate in Theatre. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, she enjoys hiking, tap dancing, baking, and playing with her dogs. Before coming to Princeton, she traversed twelve time zones to participate in Princeton's Bridge Year Program in Serbia where she taught English in Roma settlements. At Princeton, she's an RCA in Wilson, a fellow at the Writing Center, a U-Councilor in USG, an Orange Key tour guide, and a member of the Bhangra team.

Yasmin Elhady is a licensed attorney and a Masters candidate in Public Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She most recently worked for the federal government at the U.S. Department of Justice and Commission on Civil Rights. She is the daughter of a Libyan father and an Egyptian mother. Her family traveled to the United States as political refugees, seeking asylum from the Gaddafi regime. She attained her undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in Neuroscience and Middle Eastern Studies. Upon completing a graduate fellowship at the American University in Cairo focusing on Arabic, she attended law school in California at the UCLA School of Law. Yasmin enjoys interfaith dialogue, running, mentoring students, and cooking.

The daughter of Egyptian immigrants, Sara Elsayed is Illinois born and North Carolina bred. Not one to ease into things, a month after graduating from North Carolina State University in 2008, she found herself living in a shipping container in Baghdad, Iraq while working for the International Organization for Migration. In the six years she worked for the IOM, Sara worked with refugees in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East and South Asia. After six years living abroad, in May 2014 she returned to the United States as a Department of State Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellow. This past summer she served as a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission fellow at the U.S. House of Representatives. Sara plans to join the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer upon graduating.

Grant Golub is a sophomore at Princeton University, expecting to major in the History Department and pursue a certificate in American Studies. He is a varsity coxswain on the Men's Lightweight Crew team, a news reporter and copy editor for The Daily Princetonian and a student mentor in the Princeton University Mentoring Program. Grant is extremely interested in Middle Eastern politics and conflict, and is hoping to study the effect of religious violence on the region. He also is interested in twentieth-century warfare, specifically World War II. 

Rana Ibrahem is a senior at the Woodrow Wilson School focusing on Development and International Organizations and Governance in the Middle East. She is a fellow of the Carl A. Field's Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding as well as the founder and former President of Princeton Arab Society. Her training in policy analysis at the Wilson School has focused primarily on framing issues in the Middle East through American foreign policy. She conducted Junior independent work on issues of democratic development in Yemen and immigration policies in the US. Her senior thesis will consider the role of Muslim identity on the future of transnational economies - specifically considering Turkey and the EU as a case study. Her past experiences include internships with Venture for America, Endeavor Jordan and Just Vision. She hopes to one day bridge her experience-based training in entrepreneurship and startups with issues of democratic development and governance in the Middle East. 

Sang Hyeok Lee is a sophomore concentrating in philosophy. He is pursuing a certificate in translation and intercultural communication. He has spent time away from school after freshman year, assisting research on an empirical model of sustainable peace at Columbia University and interning at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State. During this time, he started working with the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay movement which seeks to build peace through dialogue and serves the poor in friendship. He is interested in the role of faith-based civil society actors in brokering and building peace, the possibility of dialogue among religiously and culturally diverse peoples, the dimensions of language in intercultural communication, and postcolonial and postmodern literatures. 

Gustavo Maya is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Religion Department at Princeton University in the Religion, Ethics, & Politics subfield. His primary interests are theology and ethics, and law and religion. He is particularly interested in Church-State relations in the West and in religion and global justice. Before beginning his current course of study, he completed a J.D. as UC Berkeley School of Law and an M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary. While in law school, he spent summers at both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Justice. At the Department of State, he worked in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor within the Office of International Religious Freedom. At the Department of Justice, he worked in the Executive Office of Immigration Review where he clerked for immigration judges reviewing asylum applications. While in seminary, he spent a summer in the Dominican Republic working at an impoverished Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Santo Domingo.

Michelle Nedashkovskaya is a junior in Princeton’s Political Science department and is pursuing certificates in European Cultural Studies and German Language and Culture. She grew up speaking Russian and English in a Ukrainian family living in New York City; in the past she has also studied Spanish in Barcelona and German in Munich and continues to study German at Princeton. Previously, Michelle has served as a Virtual Research Intern for U.S. Embassy Moscow and as a summer research intern for the Geoeconomics Department of the Council on Foreign Relations, specializing in Eastern European affairs and making use of her language proficiency.

Nicholas Pang is a senior from Papaikou, Hawaii majoring in sociology with a certificate in East Asian studies. He is most interested in inequality in the developing world, social movements, ethnic and religious conflict, and nationalism, primarily in East Asia and South Asia. As part of his PORDIR fellowship, he hopes to research how Uighur protests in Xinjiang, People's Republic of China affects Sino-Pakistani relations, as some groups within Pakistan appear sympathetic towards Uighur protests in opposition to the official position of Pakistan's government. Apart from academics, Nicholas is member of the Princeton Quest Scholars Network, Unfound, the Princeton Journal of East Asian Studies, and Brown Food Co-op.

Yekaterina V Panskyy (Katie) is a sophomore in the Economics Department and pursuing a certificate in finance. She currently resides in the Florida Keys but her birthplace is Odessa, Ukraine. She places heavy emphasis on perspective and well-rounded studies as well as diversions, so for these reasons her passions surround piloting, diving, and geography. She has a great interest in world events to which she has spent numerous summers traveling abroad and this past summer interning in Congress. She is also a member of Princeton Women's Varsity Track and after graduation, seeks to pursue her interests in law. 

Emma Snyder is a Senior in the Woodrow Wilson School with particular interest in East Asia. She has studied Chinese in Beijing through the Princeton in Beijing Program and just returned this semester from 7 months studying abroad in Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong. She is interesting in exploring religion in contemporary China. Outside of school, Emma is an active member of Princeton's club swim team and recently swam around Manhattan as part of a 6-person relay team.

Born in Kobe, Japan, Masako Toyoda moved to Boston, Massachusetts at the age of two. She has lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since her third grade, and has just recently moved to Philadelphia. Both of her parents are Japanese, and having grown up in a Japanese household, Masako has a great appreciation for Japanese culture and practices. Her love of Japanese culture extends to her love of international culture; she especially loves to be introduced to new perspectives shaped others may have. Fluent in Japanese and English, she hopes to finish learning Spanish and learn Italian and French by the end of her undergraduate years at Princeton University. Her many interests include music, fashion, literature, and running.

Raissa von Doetinchem de Rande is a first year PhD student in the Religion Department, both in the Islam and the Religion, Ethics, and Politics subfield. A native German, she received a B.A. in Theology from the University of Oxford in 2012 and an M.A.R. in Ethics from Yale in 2014.


Established in 2007, the Program on Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations offers students and faculty at Princeton University the opportunity to study, reflect, and generate ideas and publications concerning the multiple intersections of religion, diplomacy and international relations. PORDIR aims to explore the influence of religion and religious beliefs in the conduct of international relations, diplomacy and politics; facilitate discussions about religion and international relations in a neutral, non-ideological forum; encourage interdisciplinary, inter-generational, international and interreligious exchanges among students, scholars and policy practitioners; and promotes research, teaching and publication relating to religion and international relations.

A key component of PORDIR is the opportunity for a cohort of undergraduate and graduate students – representing a range of religious, academic and ideological perspectives – to participate as Fellows in Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations. Fellows conduct research projects, participate in weekly lunch seminars, and present their independent research at an end of the semester event. The objective of these weekly seminars is to facilitate a scholarly environment that provides academic guidance, opportunities for peer-to-peer critique and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the broad topics of religion, diplomacy, and international relations. These seminars provide fellows access to visiting researchers, political figures, and religious leaders who visit the weekly sessions as guest speakers. The sessions are a unique opportunity for fellows to voice their opinions, test hypothesizes, and learn from a diverse array of people. Past PORDIR fellows have come from a variety of departments and programs, bringing their specific academic backgrounds and interdisciplinary methodologies to bear on key issues related to religion, diplomacy, and international relations.

Independent research is the cornerstone of the PORDIR program, through the course of which students take advantage of the academic resources available to them. Fellows are expected to pursue independent, academically rigorous research throughout the term of the fellowship and to present their final article-length research papers (max 15 pages). In previous years, PORDIR fellows have submitted their research papers for publication, have used their research as a basis for future thesis and dissertation work, and have utilized their research through the course of internships at such places as the UN, State Department, and a variety of international NGOs. Past research papers have engaged such topics as Christian and Islamic Theories of Just War, Development and Religion; Human Rights in Islam; Taxes and Religion; The Politics of Sainthood; Religious Communities and Prevention of HIV in Africa; and Crisis Diplomacy and Religion.