The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Donahue Institute

University of Massachusetts Civic Initiative

American Political Development 2023

Facundo Cruz (he/him/his)

Ph.D. in Political Science

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Facundo Cruz is a political scientist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, specializing in elections, political parties, institutions, and democracy. He is currently engaged in political consulting and applied research. He serves as an associate researcher in Fundación Directorio Legislativo, a member of the Centro de Investigación para la Calidad Democrática (CICAD), and an external consultant in the Innovation Network-NDI (National Democratic Institute). He is also the General Coordinator of Pulsar.Uba, a research center at Universidad de Buenos Aires specialized in the study of public opinion. Facundo holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and a M.Sc. in Electoral Analysis, Law, and Management from Universidad Nacional de San Martin (UNSAM). He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes at Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universidad Torcuato Di Tella University in Argentina. He is the author of "La Gente Vota," a biweekly newsletter on politics, elections, and democracy. He has written "Socios Pero No Tanto: Partidos y Coaliciones en la Argentina, 2003-2015" (Editorial Eudeba) and coordinated "Después del Terremoto: El Sistema Político Argentino a 20 Años de la Crisis del 2001" (China Editora).

Kazi Mohammad Mahbobor Rahman (he/him/his)

Associate Professor

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Kazi Mohammad Mahbobor Rahman is an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Dhaka and teaches 'Public Policy,' 'Comparative Politics,' and 'International Trade and Finance.' He presented the 'Theory of Comparative Intergovernmentalism' and 'An Idea of the Market for the Aid and Conditionality Provision' at the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Conference in 2019 and 2021, respectively. He spoke on 'Authoritarian Regionalism' at the Eurasia Conference 2023 and 'Climate Change Policy' at the 5th International Public Policy (IPP) Conference 2021. Furthermore, thirteen articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals written by him. He achieved an MA in Public Policy from Central European University (Budapest) and a master and bachelor of Social Sciences in Political Science from the University of Dhaka. Currently, he is exploring the impact of authoritarian regimes on economic development in Thailand and Myanmar, and in this regard, he presented findings at the IPP Workshop 2022 (Budapest), MPSA Conference 2023 (Chicago) and IPSA Congress 2023 (Buenos  Aires). His participation in the SUSI program will facilitate teaching the US political process and research on liberalization, policymaking, and nation-building processes in an authoritarian system compared with the practices in a liberal USA setting.

René Tapia Herrera (he/him/his)


Santiago, Chile

René Tapia Herrera is a lawyer and constitutional law professor at Universidad Finis Terrae. He studied his law degree and LLM at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He has just enrolled in the Doctoral Program in Law and Political Science at Universidad de Barcelona. He has served as legislative advisor at the Chilean National Congress. In addition, during the latest processes of constitutional substitution, he has worked as an advisor to the Constitutional Convention (2021-2022) and the Expert Committee (2023). He also worked several years in Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile as assistant to the professors of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law. His studies focus on political philosophy, indigenous peoples and constitutional law, constitutional reform, and international human rights law. Through his participation in the SUSI program, he aims to connect with U.S. researchers and to improve his understanding of the U.S. Constitutional Law, to initiate a course of U.S. Constitutional Law in his own country.

Yasmin Khodary (she/her/hers)

Professor of Political Science

Cairo, Egypt

Yasmin Khodary is a professor of Political Science at the British University in Egypt. She has been working in the field of development for the past 18 years. She is the winner of the Abdul Hameed Shoman Award for Arab Researchers. Her fields of interest include contentious politics, gender, masculinity, peacebuilding, governance, and social accountability. Her key publications include: "Middle Eastern Women Between Oppression and Resistance" in the Journal of International Women's Studies; "FGM in Egypt" in the Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research; and "Assessing the Impact of Gender Equality and Empowerment in Matters of Inheritance in Egypt" in the Journal of the Middle East and Africa. Yasmin aspires to know more closely about American politics, especially in relation to identity and culture.

Dr. Sinjini Bhattacharya (she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor

Hyderabad, India

Sinjini Bhattacharya is a Ph.D. holder in Political Science from the University of Hyderabad. She currently teaches Political Science to undergraduate students at St. Francis College for Women in Hyderabad. Her thesis explored the role of civil society organizations in communal harmony building in a context where the society is not deeply divided but communal tensions can rupture the social fabric at any moment. She has contributed to textbooks used as instructional material for intermediate students in the state of Telangana. Her academic work also delves into the impact of social media on politics. Her areas of interest include conflict and peace studies, international relations, foreign policy, and social media and politics. In her free time, she enjoys reading fiction, watching movies, and writing in her blog. She hopes to gain firsthand knowledge of American politics and culture through her participation in the SUSI program and intends to incorporate that knowledge into her regular teaching.


Ghanesya Hari Murti (he/him/his)


Jember, Indonesia

Ghanesya Hari Murti is an English Department lecturer at Jember University, Indonesia. He studied Linguistics, Literature, and Cultural Studies for a master's degree at Airlangga University, Surabaya, and joined the International Student Exchange Program at Malaya University, Malaysia. He is also a teacher for the Acces Microscholarship Program for underprivileged students, an Indonesian Language Ambassador for the Indonesian Language Agency for International Cultural Diplomacy, and an activist for gender diversity in Indonesia. The areas of focus are critical theory, which includes politics, gender, critical discourse analysis, and psychological analysis. He aspires to gain more perspective on American libertarian tradition and meet more colleagues around the globe working with the same area of focus to promote a more democratic society. His hobbies include reading and watching films.


Rakefet Erlich Ron (she/her/hers)

Kfar Shmuel, Israel

Rakefet Erlich Ron is a lecturer and researcher at Beit Berel Academic College in Israel. She leads a national project of the Ministry of Education on the integration of Arab teachers in Jewish schools and serves as the head of the Excellent Program and two other programs of democratic educational leadership. She teaches courses promoting multiculturalism and controversial discourse in the classroom, focusing on the culture of the digital age and social networks. Rakefet conducts research within the "Center for Shared Life" at the college, exploring sociological issues in Israeli society, the management of controversial issues in the classroom globally and in Israel, minority teachers, gender issues, and mutual relations between cultures and their relation to the wider society.

Dr. Jethron Ayumba Akala (he/him/his)

Maseno, Kenya

Jethron Ayumba Akala is a lecturer at Maseno University in Western Kenya. He teaches history, mainly African history, urban history, and USA-Africa relations. He has a Ph.D. in the history of technology from the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany, where his research focused on the evolution of Nairobi City's water and sanitation infrastructure systems. His current research centers on urban mobility, specifically the techno-politics of mega infrastructure planning in African cities and urban governance in general. Jethron pays attention to how ordinary people in cities appropriate space, ideas, and policies that are implemented from the top, and their everyday experiences with such policies and infrastructural artifacts. Jethron is also involved in trade unionism and serves as the Vice-Chairperson of the University Academic Staff Union (UASU) at Maseno University. Through the SUSI program, he aims to build strong networks for collaborative research, knowledge exchange, and expand his knowledge on American society, political systems, and political thought. He anticipates the program to also help sharpen his skills in teaching and presenting concepts to improve the teaching-learning process. Jethron enjoys watching football, listening to music, and engaging in informal debates with peers on various aspects of life.

Dr. Aaron Ola Ogundiwin (he/him/his)

Associate Professor

Ibadan, Nigeria

Aaron Ola Ogundiwin, Ph.D., bagged all of his three degrees in Political Science from Babcock University and the University of Ibadan. He is an experienced political scientist and has been teaching students and supervising projects, dissertations, and theses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, across all the major sub-disciplinary divisions of the political science discipline, both with courses, supervisions, and specializations either located directly within or astride any combination of the major areas of Political Theory and Analysis, Comparative Politics, Public Administration, International Relations, and their sub-fields. He is currently on the rank of associate professor of Political Theory and Democratic Studies. He has experience in coalitions of CSOs in Nigeria, especially with NGOs that focus on election monitoring and observation, civic education, electoral management bodies (EMBs), democracy, citizens living with disabilities, human rights, maternal and infant mortalities, legislative and policy advocacy, media advocacy, women empowerment, and so on. He was once appointed National Coordinator of a coalition of over 250 NGOs, where he took the lead in project design, execution, monitoring, and evaluation.


Dr. Muhammad Ayub Jan (he/him/his)

Peshawar, Pakistan

Ayub Jan is a teacher at a public-sector university in Pakistan. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Politics from the University of York, UK. His thesis explores the identity formation processes in Pakistan. He has 19 years of teaching and research experience. Ayub Jan has published research papers in reputable journals. Ayub Jan has supervised a number of Ph.D. and M.Phil students during his career. He is a member of academic bodies that review research projects of the students enrolled in M.Phil or Ph.D. programs at the university. He has been organizing various national and international conferences, seminars, and summer schools. Ayub Jan has also won competitive grants for his research projects from HEC, USAID, IFPRI, UKRI, GCRF, and FCDO. He is currently working on two international research projects in collaboration with the University of Sussex and the Institute of Development Studies, UK. His research interests include identity politics, governance, socio-economic transformations in conflict-ridden societies, migration studies, and mutual assistance in crises. He is currently working as an associate professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Peshawar, Pakistan.


Patrick Kaiku (he/him/his)

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Patrick Kaiku is a teaching fellow in the Political Science Department at the University of Papua New Guinea. After completing an MA in Pacific Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa in 2011, he started full-time teaching in the University of Papua New Guinea in 2012. Aside from his teaching and research responsibilities, Patrick Kaiku is involved in civil society outreach and advocacy activities. He was commissioned by ActNow PNG, a local civil society in 2016, to review Papua New Guinea's national development plans and has been engaged in community-based awareness programs. Moreover, Patrick Kaiku is interested in the areas of governance and Pacific affairs. Through his research and policy commentaries on regional issues in the Pacific, he is developing connections with other Pacific academics and scholars. Through the SUSI Scholar's Program, Patrick Kaiku aims to develop content for a course/program to be introduced into the Political Science Department at the University of Papua New Guinea. He intends to use this experience to get first-hand material for the American Politics and Institutions - a course that is currently being considered for re-introduction in the Political Science Department. Patrick Kaiku is an avid follower of American politics and affairs.


Heber Joel Campos Bernal (he/him/his)


Lima, Peru

Heber Joel Campos Bernal received his bachelor of Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), master's degree in State of Law and Constitutional Democracy from the University of Genoa (Italy), master's degree in Political Science from PUCP, and Ph.D. (candidate) from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (Spain). He serves as a full-time professor at the Faculty of Law of PUCP. He has worked as a consultant for the Office of the Ombudsman and GTZ International on issues related to human rights protection and justice system reform. He has served as the Legal Advisory Manager for the "Trabaja Perú" program for inclusive job creation at the Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion of Peru. He has worked as a lawyer for the General Secretariat of the National Jury of Elections and was part of the technical team that drafted the first organic proposal for an electoral code to reform the electoral and political system in Peru. He has been the principal advisor to the Constitution Committee of the Congress of the Republic. He has also served as the principal advisor and general coordinator of the parliamentary group "Peruanos por el Kambio" in the Congress of the Republic. He has been the Chief of Cabinet of Advisors for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion. He has edited two books on comparative law and constitutional theory and has published several articles in Peruvian and foreign journals on his areas of expertise.


Sergiu Gherghina (he/him/his)

Associate Professor

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Sergiu Gherghina is an associate professor in Comparative Politics at the Department of International Studies and Contemporary History, Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj (Romania). He has been an assistant professor at Goethe University of Frankfurt (Germany), and he is also an associate professor at the University of Glasgow (UK). He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Leiden University (The Netherlands). His research interests lie in party politics, political participation, democratization, and the use of referendums.


Dr. Lerato Hlengiwe Sokhulu (she/her/hers)

Durban, South Africa

Lerato Hlengiwe Sokhulu is an academic in the Curriculum Studies discipline at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. She lectures and coordinates various undergraduate education and professional studies modules for the Bachelor of Education program (B.Ed.). She also serves as a mentor for pre-service teachers during teaching practice and supervises postgraduate research at the honors, masters, and Ph.D. levels. Her research focuses on educational technology, pre-service teacher mentorship, and assessment in education. She is passionate about teaching and learning, as well as qualitative and mixed-methods research. Apart from work, Lerato enjoys traveling, engaging in community service, and spending quality time with loved ones. Through the SUSI program, she wishes to learn more about American society and politics and how political stances shape the country's curriculum.


Seçkin Barış Gülmez (he/him/his)

Ph.D., Associate Professor

Izmir, Turkey

Seçkin Barış Gülmez is an associate professor of International Relations at Izmir Katip Çelebi University in Turkey. He has previously worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Koç University and as a teaching fellow at the University of Warwick. He holds a Ph.D. from Royal Holloway University of London. His academic research focuses on the intersection of diplomatic studies and foreign policy analysis. His recent publications have appeared in journals such as Foreign Policy Analysis, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Interventions: Journal of Postcolonial Studies, and Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. By participating in the SUSI program, he aims to gain a deeper understanding of American political thought and utilize this knowledge in his academic research and teaching.


Rinata Kazak (she/her/hers)


Kharkiv, Ukraine

Rinata Kazak is an assistant professor of legal history at Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv, Ukraine. She obtained her Ph.D. in Law in 2017 and is currently a visiting researcher at Linköping University in Sweden. Dr. Kazak is a member of the editorial board for scientific journals and actively participates in international conferences and legal forums. Her research focuses on the historical and legal aspects of environmental sustainability. She teaches courses on legal and state history of Ukraine, legal history of foreign countries, and country studies at the undergraduate level. Rinata hopes that her participation in the SUSI program will deepen her understanding of American society, history, and politics, which will be rewarding for her future teaching and dissemination of knowledge. She also aspires to strengthen the curriculum design of several courses at her home university in Ukraine. Apart from her academic interests, Rinata enjoys cross-country skiing and traveling.

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