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Current Postdoctoral and Research Fellows

Sophia Moskalenko (smoskale at gmail.com) is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (NC-START) sited at the Asch Center. She received a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where Paul Rozin and Clark McCauley were advisors for a thesis that focused on conceptualizing and measuring group identification.  Currently her research in collaboration with Clark McCauley focuses on political radicalization: the increasing extremity of beliefs, feelings and behaviors in support of inter-group conflict.  Drawing on work of Corning and Myers, the research has developed measures that distinguishes legal and non-violent political action (activism) from illegal and violent action (radicalism). In surveys of large national samples in USA and Palestine and of university students in Ukraine and USA, results indicate that the progression from activism to radicalism is far from what has been described as a “conveyor belt.” Instead, most respondents scoring high on past activism report neither past radicalism nor intention for future radicalism.  This research has also identified 12 mechanisms of radicalization, operating at individual, group or mass public levels, and the generalizability and power of these mechanisms are under investigation using both historical materials and survey data. 

 

Past Postdoctoral and Research Fellows

S. K. Menon (shankar3 at psych.upenn.edu) has been a research fellow in residence at the Asch Center since 2001. A native of India, Mr. Menon holds an MA in Economics from Patna University (India) and studied Development Finance at Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. He worked for the Indian Administrative Service for 30 years where his duties included work in the Defense Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, and the Department of Culture. S. K.’s research at the Asch Center examines crosscultural issues of personal and community forgiveness as it occurs in India and the United States. Toward this end he is studying perceptions of intergroup conflict in the United States (between Blacks and Whites) and in India (between Muslims and Hindus).

Carolyn Ristau (car31 at columbia.edu) was a 1999 Asch Center Summer Fellow in the first summer program. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is presently also affiliated with the Dept. of Psychology at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City and works with the NGO Pro-Natura International-Nigeria (PNI-N).  Her background has been as a cognitive ethologist conducting experimental field studies of animal cognition and behavior. Presently she focuses on human conflict and risk analysis in Nigeria’s strife-torn Niger Delta and beyond.  She is also involved in community development efforts through PNI-N’s programs in Nigeria. Her field work has included sites in mainland USA, Alaska, and Africa.

Catherine Byrne was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Solomon Asch Center. A native South African, Dr. Byrne earned her doctorate from the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno (2002) and her M.A. in International Peace Studies from the Joan B. Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame (1995). During her year at the Center, Cath developed a number of articles for publication based on her doctoral dissertation research. The articles address theoretical and empirical aspects of social psychological and sociological “accounts theory” as applied to a human rights context. How real victims respond to perpetrators' explanations for such severe atrocities is the focus of one of the papers. Another addresses victims’ evaluations of participating in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a third examines the logistical, emotional, and ethical challenges of conducting a research project with such traumatized individuals. Cath is currently an Assistant Professor in the Social Justice Program in the Psychology Department at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Britt Cartrite was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Solomon Asch Center. Dr. Cartrite earned his doctorate from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2003) and a masters from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver (2000). During his time at the Asch Center Britt worked on a number of projects, including extending his dissertation research on ethnopolitical mobilization in Western Europe to develop a model grounded in a Complex Adaptive Systems framework. He also collaborated with Professor Ian Lustick on "Virtualstan," an agent-based model evaluating the impact of succession crises on three distinct types of authoritarian regimes. Based on fieldwork in Scotland conducted in May 2004, Britt also explored the impact of local cultural variation on identity formation and subsequent political activism. In addition, Britt worked on a project testing hypotheses of voter behavior in European Parliament elections and taught courses for the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Britt is currently an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at Alma College.

Julie Chalfin was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Solomon Asch Center. Dr. Chalfin earned her doctorate from the Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology at Claremont Graduate University (2003). During her year at the Center, Julie supported the efforts of the Center's Refugee Initiatives Program. This included developing, implementing, and evaluating psychosocial programs that assist refugees living in refugee camps, and collaborating with local and international organizations that address refugee issues. Julie also developed articles for publication based on her doctoral dissertation research which addressed the application of models in social psychology to understand the international conflict management process. In addition, Julie represented the Asch Center at the Alliance for International Conflict Prevention and Resolution meetings and facilitated collaborative relationships with local organizations in South Africa. She spent a second year as an Asch Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Washington DC working at Save the Children.

Al-Hassan Conteh was a research fellow in residence at the Asch Center from 2001-2005. A native of Liberia, Dr. Conteh received his Ph.D. in demography and regional science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. His research work includes crosscutting issues in human security, conflict prevention in Africa, and education in emergencies. He is currently writing a book on population, identity, and group dynamics as factors in the Liberian civil war. Al-Hassan is a past president of the Liberian Studies Association and the current editor of the Liberian Studies Journal. He was founding chairman of the new Liberia Institute dedicated to actively involving technocrats in all fields to work for the attainment of durable peace, democracy, and good governance in Liberia. Dr. Conteh is now the President of the University of Liberia in Monrovia.

Emmanuel Karagiannis (mkaragiannis at yahoo.com) is a Postdoctoral Fellow currently in residence at the Solomon Asch Center. In December 1999, he obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Hull’s Department of Politics and International Studies in Great Britain. His field of research was the connection between pipeline development and ethnic conflict in the Caucasus. He received his B.A in European Community Studies from South Bank University in London and an M.A in International Security Studies from the University of Reading in Great Britain. During his year at the Asch Center, Emmanuel is developing a number of articles for publication based on fieldwork in Central Asia conducted from September 2003 until January 2005. The articles address the relevance of social movement theories to the rise of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, a radical Islamic group which favors peaceful political change, in the Central Asian region.

Darren Schreiber was a postdoctoral fellow in residence at the Asch Center. Dr. Schreiber received his Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA in 2003. He also holds a law degree from the U.C. Davis School of Law and specialized in civil rights litigation before returning to academia. Darren?s research centers on emergence and complexity theory in political science. His dissertation research used functional brain imaging (fMRI) to study the neural substrates of political cognition and affect. He has shown that ideological sophisticates differ from political novices in their heightened use of the posterior cingulate, a brain region associated with automatic emotional evaluations. His research at the Asch Center involved integrating the neural level findings about individual political cognition into his model of political party dynamics with an aim of developing a general theory of the emergence of ideology.

 

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