CDDRL's incoming pre- and postdoctoral fellows

Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is proud to announce our three incoming fellows who will be joining us in the 2018-2019 academic year to develop their research, engage with faculty and tap into our diverse scholarly community.
The pre- and postdoctoral program will provide fellows the time to focus on research and data analysis as they work to finalize and publish their dissertation research while connecting with resident faculty and research staff at CDDRL. 
Fellows will present their research during our weekly research seminar series and an array of scholarly events and conferences.
 
Topics of the incoming cohort include policing and sectarian conflict in Iraq and Israel, global health and safety regulations and taxation in Southeast Asia.
 
Learn more in the Q&A below.

    CDDRL's pre- and postdoctoral fellows 2018-19
  • CDDRL's pre- and postdoctoral fellows 2018-19
  • Alexandra Blackman, CDDRL Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2018-19
  • Alice Underwood CDDRL, Pre-Doctoral Fellow 2018-19
  • Edgar Franco Vivanco, CDDRL Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2018-19
  • Laura Jakli, CDDRL Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2018-19
  • Natalie Wenzell Letsa, CDDRL Postdoctoral Scholar, 2018-19

CDDRL's pre- and postdoctoral fellows 2018-19

Alexandra Blackman, CDDRL Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2018-19

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Academic Institution: Stanford University

Discipline and degree conferral date (or expected): Political Science, expected June 2019

Research Interests: Middle East, religious institutions, political behavior, voting

Dissertation Title: Colonialism, War, and Political Development in Tunisia

What attracted you to the CDDRL Pre/post-doctoral program?

My research interests — broadly related to political party development and political behavior in transitions — dovetail neatly with the work on democracy and the rule of law that CDDRL supports. I am excited to join a scholarly community engaged on similar areas of research to my own.

What do you hope to accomplish during your nine-month residency at the CDDRL? During my residency at CDDRL, I plan to complete my dissertation on colonial Tunisia. In addition, I plan to complete several additional research projects related to the Tunisia Local Election Candidate Survey that I recently conducted with Julia Clark (UCSD) and Aytug Sasmaz (Harvard).

Fun fact: I am deeply afraid of sharks and have an unhealthy addiction to BCC crime dramas. 

Alice Underwood CDDRL, Pre-Doctoral Fellow 2018-19

Hometown: Berkeley, CA

Academic Institution: Stanford University (Ph.D.)

Discipline and degree conferral date (or expected): Comparative Literature, June 2019

Short list of Research Interests: Late-Soviet and contemporary Russia; legal definitions of citizenship; intersection of culture and politics; satire and political commentary; gender politics; Russia's 'national idea'

Dissertation Title: From New Man to Eternal Corpse: Citizenship, Deviance, and the Literature of Resistance in Late-Soviet and Contemporary Russia

What attracted you to the CDDRL Pre/post-doctoral program? 

CDDRL's focus on uniting research and policy to address problems of governance and the rule of law converges with my interest in approaching undemocratic regimes from a cultural as well as a political angle. My research integrates history, anthropology, and cultural analysis to explore the forces that hinder the rule of law and social and cultural expression, with particular emphasis on Russia and other states in the post-Soviet space. The scholars, programs, and research opportunities at CDDRL provide an excellent environment for these research pursuits.

What do you hope to accomplish during your nine-month residency at the CDDRL?

During my fellowship at CDDRL, I plan to complete my dissertation, supplementing it with materials from the Hoover Archives, and prepare it for publication. I also anticipate collaborating with the scholars at CDDRL and participating in some of FSI's programs, particularly those on Global Populisms, Governance, and the Global Digital Policy Incubator.

Fun fact: I can recite Star Wars: A New Hope from memory. 

Edgar Franco Vivanco, CDDRL Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2018-19

Hometown: Mexico City

Academic Institution: Stanford University

Discipline and degree conferral date (or expected): PhD in Political Science, June 2020

Short list of Research Interests: Political Economy of Development, Comparative Politics, Education and Human Capital, Violence and crime, Policing, Political identity, Economic History, Computational Social Sciences, Latin American Politics

Dissertation Title: Strategies of Indigenous Resistance and Accommodation to Colonial Rule

What attracted you to the CDDRL Pre/post-doctoral program? 

I am interested on the interdisciplinary approach and diversity of scholars in the center. Here, there are people studying a wide range of regions and topics. This is a place where academic rigor intersects with an interest in policy-oriented solutions, and that is a rare combination.

What do you hope to accomplish during your nine-month residency at the CDDRL?

During the nine-month residency at CDDRL I plan to complete several dissertation-related papers and start integrating them into a book project. I also plan to conclude a side project on criminal violence and policing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for which I am co-authoring a book planned to be in press by 2019.

Fun fact: Last year I started to learn violin! I am still learning the basics but I hope to be playing some solos soon. 

Laura Jakli, CDDRL Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2018-19

Hometown: Budapest, Hungary

Academic Institution: University of California, Berkeley

Discipline and degree conferral date (or expected):  Political Science (expected 2019)

Short list of Research Interests:  Democratic decline, Digital politics, Populism, Migration

Dissertation Title: Engineering Extremism: Digital Politics and the Mobilization of Radicals

What attracted you to the CDDRL Pre/post-doctoral program?

The Center’s intellectual community is comprised of world-renowned scholars researching global populism and examining the ways in which digital technology shapes democracy. Having the opportunity to workshop my research in this community is invaluable.

What do you hope to accomplish during your nine-month residency at the CDDRL?

I plan to write up the dissertation and finish some remaining experimental analysis. I also hope to collaborate on research with other CDDRL fellows and faculty.

Fun fact: I have never written a to-do list.

Natalie Wenzell Letsa, CDDRL Postdoctoral Scholar, 2018-19

Hometown: San Mateo, CA

Academic Institution: University of Oklahoma

Discipline and degree conferral date (or expected): Political Science-- August 21, 2017

Short list of Research Interests: African politics, Authoritarianism, public opinion, electoral behavior, democratization

Dissertation Title: Voting for the Devil You Know: Understanding Electoral Behavior in Authoritarian Regimes

What attracted you to the CDDRL Pre/post-doctoral program?

I was attracted to the CDDRL's interdisciplinary approach to understanding development and democracy around the world. I look forward to working on similar substantive issues and topics with people who who work on different regions as well as scholars from across disciplines.

What do you hope to accomplish during your nine-month residency at the CDDRL?

I plan to work on two different book manuscripts during my residency at the CDDRL. The first, based on my dissertation, seeks to better understand why ordinary people vote in autocratic elections. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Cameroon, the book project investigates the non-economic motives people have for participating in these types of elections. The second book project, in it's more preliminary stages, investigates the differential impacts of British and French colonialism on contemporary levels of economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Exploring the different facets of colonial rule--including legal traditions, educational systems, religious and cultural histories, and the differences between direct and indirect rule--the book project brings together disparate literatures on colonialism in Africa.

Fun fact: When I was in middle school, I was a cheerleader in the East-West Shrine game Halftime Show at Stanford Stadium!