Our Team

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Douglas Irvin-Erickson, Director

Douglas Irvin-Erickson is Assistant Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He has worked in the field of genocide studies and atrocity prevention in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Cambodia, Myanmar, Ukraine, and Argentina. He is the author of books, chapters, and articles on genocide, religion and violence, human security, international criminal law, and political theory. His current research includes a book on the life and works of Raphael Lemkin, the originator of the word "genocide" who authored the UN Genocide Convention (UPenn Press, 2017). Irvin-Erickson also serves as Editor of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, the official publication of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. He holds a Ph.D. in Global Affairs from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and an M.A. in English Literature. His website is douglasirvinerickson.org.

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Emily Sample, Executive Director

In addition to working with the Lemkin Program, Emily Sample is in the process of earning her PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Her dissertation is on the gendered and environmental aspects of genocide prevention in Uganda. Previously, she has worked as Associate Director of Education at Holocaust Museum Houston and for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Ugandan National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, as well as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She earned her B.A. from The College of William and Mary and her M.A. in Human Rights and Genocide Studies from Kingston University London.

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Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Director of Violence Prevention Initiatives

Vigny Nimuraba is the Director of the Lemkin Program’s Violence Prevention Initiative. He currently serves as the Chair of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights in Burundi, and teaches at the National University of Burundi in Bujumbura. He has taught classes on Early Warning and Mass Atrocity Prevention for the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, and International Humanitarian Law and International Protection of Human Rights for Hope Africa University in Bujumbura, Burundi. He worked closely with UNHCR and Ligue Iteka in Burundi until 2011, as Regional Coordinator through the Ligue Iteka’s Monitoring of Returnees Project. Before Ligue Iteka, he held positions with local and international organizations such as VISPE, Care International, and CNLS, among others, from which he got the inspiration and passion to dedicate his life to peaceful coexistence, Human Rights and social cohesion. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of Ngozi (Burundi) and a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University.


Senior Research Fellows

James P. Finkel

Jim Finkel is the co-founder of the Atrocities Prevention Study Group at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC. Finkel ended his 35-year career as a member of the senior civil service in May 2013. During the final 20 years of his service, he held positions that provided him an insider’s eye view of the evolution of U.S. policy toward the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. Finkel assisted in crafting Presidential Study Directive 10 (PSD 10), which created the Interagency Atrocities Prevention Board, and frequently attended meetings throughout the first year of the Board’s activities. He also served as the Center for the Prevention of Genocide’s Leonard and Sophie Davis Genocide Prevention Fellow from 2013-2014. Finkel holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers College, Rutgers University.

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Charles Hauss

Chip Hauss is Senior Fellow for Innovation and an emeritus member of the Board of Directors at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, where he edits its book series on Peace and Security in the Twenty-First century with Rowman and Littlefied. Hauss is a veteran activist and academic who has authored seventeen books, including four on peacebuilding. He is currently writing a core textbook tentatively entitled From Conflict Resolution to Peacebuilding. His website is https://charleshauss.info/.

Gretchen Sandles

Gretchen Sandles serves as a volunteer at the Alliance for Peacebuilding. In that role, she has been working on gender and diversity issues. She has also been collaborating with Peace Direct on a project designed to develop a network of organizations throughout the US that build bridges across political, ethnic, religious and other divides. Sandles is a retired US government intelligence analyst. During her 27 year- intelligence career, she worked on the former Soviet Union, East Europe and the Middle East - primarily at the Open Source Center which translates information from media around the world into English for use of the US Government.

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Louise Wise

Dr. Louise Wise is a Lecturer in International Security with the International Relations department at the University of Sussex (UK). Her forthcoming book (Routledge, 2020) is provisionally titled: An Ecology of Social Death: Colonialism, Ecocide, and the Political Economy of Genocide in Sudan. Her scholarship has won awards from learned societies, and has been recognized for combining in-depth interviews with survivors/victims of genocide from Sudan with conceptual analysis in order to deepen our understanding of the meaning of genocide, as well as its lived experience. Her current research develops a theoretical framework for analyzing genocide by drawing on conceptual tools from complexity theory and assemblage thinking, to reconceptualize the “event” of genocide through an emphasis on its processual, relational, systemic, and international dimensions. Dr. Wise has held research and teaching positions at the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), and Departments of War Studies and Political Economy at King’s College London. Dr. Wise holds a PhD in War Studies, an MRes in Research Methods, and an MA in International Conflict Studies from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Her undergraduate training was conducted with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warwick.


Post Doctoral Research Fellows

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Edwin Daniel Jacob

Dr. Edwin Daniel Jacob earned his doctorate in Global Affairs from Rutgers University in 2018. His forthcoming book—American Security, the Global “War on Terror,” and the Rise of ISIS—provides an interpretative framework for understanding modern global insecurity. His unique collection on security, Rethinking Security in the Twenty-First Century, was published with Palgrave MacMillan in 2017. Dr. Jacob’s other works include articles with E-International Relations and Peace Review; book chapters with Open Court Publishing, Palgrave MacMillan, and Wiley-Blackwell; book reviews with New Political Science, Critical Studies on Terrorism, and Critical Sociology; and several contributions to online scholarly platforms, including France 24 and Reader Supported News.

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Valentyna Polunina

Dr. Valentyna Polunina is a world-recognized expert on Soviet and Russian legal history and international law. At the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, she is working to complete her book on the Soviet role and contributions to international law after the Second World War (forthcoming). Dr. Polunina is also an expert on visual Soviet and Russian propaganda (and counter propaganda) in historical contexts, narrative analysis of propaganda, and propaganda and mass persuasion in the age of digital technologies. She is supporting and leading research projects at S-CAR on propaganda and mass persuasion in contemporary global politics. Dr. Polunina received a Ph.D. in History from Heidelberg University and an M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Marburg in Germany. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Relations from Taras Shevchenko National University in Ukraine. She currently works with Der Spiegel’s Washington, DC bureau.


Graduate Student Researchers

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Ziad Al Achkar, Director of Public Private Partnerships in Humanitarian Settings Initiative

Ziad Al Achkar is a PhD student at S-CAR. Achkar currently serves as the Director of the Public Private Partnership in Humanitarian Settings Initiative. Achkar has previously held positions at Harvard University as a researcher and data analyst focused on the use of information communication technologies in conflicts and humanitarian operations. Achkar’s work has been featured in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, UN OCHA, Journal of Political Science Education, the Naval War College War Fighter Journal, the European Interagency Security Forum, and the Harvard University School of Public Health. Achkar holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Roger Williams University, a Master of Arts from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall, and a MBA from Johnson and Wales University. 

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Aimé Césaire Atchom

Aimé Césaire Atchom is a PhD student at S-CAR. He is a Legal Studies and Political Science graduate of University of Yaoundé II-Soa where he researched the dynamics of political violence and conflicts in the Gulf of Guinea. He also holds a Master of Arts in International Studies from University of San Francisco.

Aimé Césaire has provided management and consulting services to various international nonprofit organizations across continents including Abraham’s Vision (an organization with conflict transformation and peace initiatives for the Middle East) and the Global Fund for Women (a leading women’s human rights group). He has worked on local and international projects including initiatives to promote peace, security and cooperation in the African Great Lakes.  

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César Estrada Pérez

Born and raised in Mexico, César Estrada Pérez is a PhD Candidate at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Before coming to S-CAR, he participated in research projects in Spain and Mexico focused on political violence and human trafficking. He teach courses on violent conflict in Mexico, and culture and conflict resolution. His dissertation research examines critically mass violence and the “war on drugs” in Mexico. César’s larger research interests include political violence, mass atrocities and prevention, and narrative approaches to violent conflict.

César’s doctoral dissertation examines the role of conflict narratives in the production of mass violence in Mexico. Drawing on fieldwork in Central Mexico, it examines the dynamics of lethal violence and the discursive mechanisms through which mass killing becomes justified in the public space. Preliminary findings suggest a central relevance of “cleansing narratives” used by perpetrators to justify their killings; this occurs within a context of common association of victims/perpetrators to a “world of criminals”, in which their deaths become “expectable”. This study constructs a dialogue between the field of mass violence and genocide studies, and the narrative approach to violent conflict using the Mexican case.  

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Heather Hayes

Heather Hayes is a PhD student at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Her research follows an interdisciplinary approach, blending theories and methods from across disciplines, including history, philosophy, communication, political science, and cultural studies. She has a special interest in comparative genocide studies, conflict analysis, rhetoric, the politicization of memory, and identity construction in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Heather’s current research interests include the vulnerability of the Banyarwanda population in the Kivu region of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the child’s experience of the Rwandan genocide, and the intersection of environmental loss and communal identity for the Batwa of Rwanda. She holds a B.A. in History from the University of Kentucky and an M.A. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. 

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Laura Mahan

Laura Mahan currently works at Germanna Community College Office of Disability Services as a student support specialist in addition to lecturing with focus on genocide. Her doctoral research in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University focuses on persons with disabilities and the deaf during the holocaust, the role of rape and rape denials during the holocaust and the genocide in Cambodia, and the use of critical participatory action research towards reducing police violence in American deaf communities. She holds a MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a BA in Psychology from George Mason University.

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Christina McCormick

Christina McCormick is a graduate student at George Mason University, pursuing a master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, with a concentration in Dynamics of Violence, and a professional certificate in mass atrocity prevention. Since starting at George Mason, she has had the opportunity to study internationally, working with Syrian refugees in Jordan, and completing independent research on genocide education in Indonesia. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology, from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Following graduation from Virginia Tech in 2006, she accepted a position with the internationally-regarded Amen Clinics, where she has worked for over ten years. She currently serves on their corporate staff as a data analyst. During her youth, she lived in Saudi Arabia, simultaneous to the Gulf War conflict (1990-1992) and later the United Arab Emirates from 1994-1996, which contributed to her academic interests.

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Keith Singleton

Keith Singleton is a PhD candidate at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, specializing in Genocide Prevention. His work focuses on Genocide Prevention Risk Assessment Modelling, and Machine Learning as a methodological application towards his work. His dissertation illuminates the various uses that Machine Learning can contribute to Genocide and Mass Atrocity Risk Assessment Modelling. His PhD project includes the use of programming language tools such as Python, R, Java, and SQL to collect, manage, and model data related to historical genocides and modern-day mass atrocities worldwide.

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Christian Taylor

Christian is the co-founder of Warzone Initiatives and has served as the organization’s President since 2012. Under Christian’s leadership the organization has worked to address armed conflict involving non-state armed groups. They have pursued this end in Somalia, Gaza, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Colombia through initiatives including: humanitarian projects for displaced populations; stability programs for populations vulnerable to recruitment; conflict assessments; research projects; peace and reconciliation dialogues; and consultation of non-state armed groups, government agencies, and international organizations. Christian is a PhD student at the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University. Christian earned a Master of Science from S-CAR and a Bachelor of Arts in History from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). During his time at UCLA he was a member of the Bruins football team for four years and served as the team captain for the last two. Christian and his wife Holly have two daughters, Tatum and Sadie.

Christian’s dissertation, Insurgency Resilience and Theories of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, contends that despite the US and allies “war on terror” to eliminate Al-Qaeda after 9/11, Al-Qaeda is currently stronger than they have ever been. What is it about Al-Qaeda that has made them resilient to this onslaught by the most powerful, technologically advanced military the world has ever seen? What causes resiliency in the Al-Qaeda transnational insurgency? The research seeks to determine whether Al-Qaeda and AQAP’s resiliency is caused by their ability to leverage and adapt in relations with the local population groups in terms of norms, customs, and political opportunities to survive and expand the insurgency. This project will seek to theorize the causes of AQAP’s resiliency through fieldwork with the local population groups in south and east Yemen that have engaged directly with AQAP. A locally nuanced perspective on AQAP’s engagement with local population groups will reveal granular aspects to understand the insurgency and their strategy.

Kathryn Wiglesworth

Kathryn Wiglesworth is a Masters student at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where she is pursing a professional certificate in mass atrocity early warning and prevention. Her research mainly focuses on the role of religion in conflict, although she has also completed research projects on a diverse range of topics. In 2019 she presented at two international conferences, leading discussions on the role of tourism in influencing a shift towards political authoritarianism as well as an in depth critique of global genocide education. She is currently conducting research on her thesis which delves into the perceived religious stability in Singapore, using the country as a case study on the role of authoritarian governance as a mechanism to divert religious conflict. She holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Evansville in political science, focusing on state fragility and human rights law.