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Students

Betty Compton is pursuing an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Her research interests include the Chechen-Russian Wars, Chechen masculinity, Salafism in the North Caucasus, and ethnicity-based prejudice in the Russian Federation. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer at St. Petersburg State University studying Russian language and art. Betty received a B.A. in Russian and Eastern European Studies from Wesleyan University in 2011.

Kaley Hanenkrat is a J.D./M.A. candidate. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in Slavic studies from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2011. She was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Research Fellowship the same year to expand her study of democratic development in post-Orange Revolution Ukraine at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Kaley has worked in non-profit development in New York City and volunteered with the Open World Leadership Center. She has represented U-M at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and serves as managing editor of the Michigan Journal of International Law. Her research interests include democratic development, anti-corruption efforts, and rule of law in the former Soviet Union; Ukrainian language, culture, and politics; social movements in semi-authoritarian regimes; human rights; and international law. Kaley’s writing on Ukraine has been featured on Huffington Post and MJILOnline.

Amanda Hardy is pursuing a Masters in International and Regional Studies with a specialization in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, and earned a B.A. in international studies and German from the University of Michigan in 2019. She speaks German and Russian and reads Ukrainian. Amanda has volunteered as an English partner for international students, working at the non-profit International House Ann Arbor, and served as a German-speaking research assistant with the Department of Political Science. Amanda will also be pursuing an M.S. in Information. She hopes to combine her interest in area studies, language, information, and statistics to better understand corruption, democratic practices, and misinformation present in Russian and Ukrainian politics, and how these factors impact development.

Justin Heddleson is a United States Army Foreign Area Officer specializing in South and Central Asian affairs. He received a B.S. in health science from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2006 and an M.A. in industrial and organizational psychology in 2015. Justin has served in the Army since 2007. In 2017 he graduated from the Russian Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute. He is just returning from a year-long assignment in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he attended the Sri Lankan Military’s Defense Services Command and Staff College.  

Jamal Khan is a United States Army Foreign Area Officer specializing in South and Central Asian affairs. He is pursuing an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Jamal received a B.A. in criminal justice from Michigan State University in 2006 and has served in the Army since. In 2017 he graduated from the Russian Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute, a year-long program that included an immersion in Daugavpils, Latvia. He is just returning from a year-long assignment in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he served in the Office of Military Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy.  

Emma Lerman is pursuing a Masters in International and Regional Studies with a specialization in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. She holds a B.A. in Russian language and literature, and theatre, from Hampshire College (2016) and an M.A. in Slavic studies from Brown University (2017). Emma is interested in adaptations and translations of folklore and poetry, especially the genres of magical realism and absurdism. She studies early Soviet literature, focusing on the use of folkloric language and traumatic language of poetry and prose.

Karel (Kaja) Lill is a REES M.A. student who is simultaneously pursing a Ph.D. in music theory. He studies the music theory writings of Czech composer Leoš Janáček, and is interested in Czech language and culture, which will help him to better understand Janáček's work. Kaja holds an M.A. in music theory from the University of North Texas and a B.A. in music from Grand Valley State University.

Ryan McCulloch is a doctoral student in music theory, concurrently pursuing an M.A. in REES. Ryan’s research focuses on exploring how Russians from the 20th century thought about, spoke about, and reshaped their confrontation of abstract concepts. He is particularly interested in how both audiences and artists conceptualized and articulated their musical experiences through metaphor. Ryan spent the summer of 2015 studying Russian at St. Petersburg State University.  He earned a B.M. in composition from Berklee College of Music and an M.M. in composition from Carnegie Mellon.

Arakel Minassian is an M.A. student in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. His primary interest is in Armenian politics in the post-Soviet period, but his work has extended across multiple disciplines. His undergraduate thesis was a piece of creative fiction about Monte Melkonian, an Armenian American who emigrated to independent Armenia to fight in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. After graduating in 2018 from McMaster University, Arakel spent the summer in Armenia working for Hetq, an investigative journalism website based in Yerevan. As an M.A. student, he hopes to build on his educational background and his experiences on the ground with further interdisciplinary study of the post-Soviet sphere.

Haralambos Missler is pursuing a Masters in International and Regional Studies with a specialization in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. He holds a B.A. in history and modern Greek from the University of Michigan (2018). As an undergraduate, he conducted archaeological work with Aristotle University and archival work with the American University of Thessaloniki in Greece. While his area of study has centered around Southern Europe, he plans to further his research into the Balkans, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe, with a focus on modern history, cultural exchange, and the significance of nationalism in shaping each region.

Tyler Paige is a REES M.A. student. His research interests include the body, its various subjectivities, chronic illness, labor, different ways of knowing, and daily life/the banal. He hopes to eventually do ethnography in rural Siberia and to explore both traditional and visual ethnographic methods. As an undergraduate, Tyler lived in Russia on three occasions for around a year in total. He studied Russian language in Moscow, independently studied in Novosibirsk, participated in some fieldwork around the region, and taught writing in Moscow. Tyler received a B.A. in anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Alexandria Spofford is pursuing a Masters in International and Regional Studies with a specialization in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. She graduated with a degree in comparative literature from the University of Washington (2019), where she studied German and Russian. Her undergraduate research focused on the ethical questions of bystanders in World War II through the translation and analysis of German scientist Ferdinand Bernauer's letters, which she presented at the University of Washington's Undergraduate Research Symposium. She completed her undergraduate thesis “Pet Perspectives: The Role of Companion Animals in Modern British Literature,” as well as three study abroad programs in Paris, London, and Lyon. She intends to begin her study of the Czech language in order to continue researching the cultural and political interaction between Germany, Russia, and the Czech Republic.