My Students

Current Students

Malika Bahovadinova

Malika Bahovadinova is a PhD candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology. Her research interests include the anthropology of state and bureaucracy, migration, political anthropology, poverty, and Central Asia. Her dissertation research focuses on migration management and policies regulating labour migration through an analysis of their bureaucratic production by actors such as International Organization of Migration (IOM). She is currently conducting field research in IOM’s offices in Tajikistan to study the application of IOM and other international actors’ agendas in the field of labour migration. Malika holds a degree in International Relations from the Russian Tajik Slavonic University and an MA in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from the University of Notre Dame. [Email Malika]


Tania Bulakh

Tania Bulakh is a Fulbright Scholar and MA candidate in Socio-Cultural Anthropology. The focus of her research is on the introduction of Western consumer culture in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In particular, she is interested in the investigation of media relations during the post-Soviet era, changes in cultural influences and values, development of the “glamour phenomenon,” and gender relations. Tania graduated from the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (Kyiv, Ukraine), where she obtained BA and MA degrees in Theory of Literature and Comparative Studies. She also worked as a senior project manager for an international PR agency and as a journalist for several Ukrainian publications. [Email Tania]


Alexandra Cotofana

Alexandra Cotofana is a PhD student in Sociocultural Anthropology, with research interests geographically focused on Eastern Europe, namely Romania and Ukraine. Subject-wise, her topics include religion in Socialist regimes, magic and ritual, the anthropology of secrecy, gendered rituals, medical anthropology, specifically alternative medical care and the anthropology of human rights. For her dissertation Alexandra plans to analyze how magic was treated during the Socialist regime in Romania, focusing on the border of Ukraine and Romania. She is interested in understanding how socio-economic factors contributed to magic being used in the communities; how secrecy and ritual differed from how they are used today, and how the ideology influenced the way scholars have done research about rituals. Alexandra completed her BA in Political Sciences (2009) and her MA in Anthropology (2011) at the National School for Political and Administrative Studies in Bucharest, Romania. [Email Alexandra]

Crystal DeCell

Crystal DeCell is an MA/MIS student at IU’s Russian and East European Institute (REEI) and School of Library and Information Science (SLIS). Her academic research focuses on how new database and scanning technologies might be used to both preserve artifacts and make them more widely available to researchers, and how economic and climate change factors impact water security in Russia and Romania. Crystal is currently working on her MA project, which examines the interplay between issues of economics, environment, and cultural patrimony in the discourse surrounding the Roşia Montană mining project in Romania. [Email Crystal]


Satoko Hirano is a PhD student in Sociocultural Anthropology. She is interested broadly in discourse on nuclear technology in Japan, both past and present. As Japan’s current, multifaceted nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi NNP continues to unfold, Satoko’s research will address potential questions such as: What roles do political authority, private corporations, science experts, and laypeople play in creating and controlling the narratives of nuclear technology and potential hazards? How do people communicate about danger and safety, produce knowledge with which to navigate the time of uncertainty, and (re)shape Japan’s “safe and clean” energy future? How do native perceptions and knowledge of the environment, health, and body influence pro- and anti-nuclear technology discussions? Satoko also hopes to explore what constitutes a “meaningful remedy” for industrial accidents and environmental pollution from legal perspectives. [Email Satoko]

Safak Kilictepe

Safak Kilictepe is a PhD student in Biological Anthropology. Her research interests include structural violence, poverty, and public health, as well as maternal and child health, and human diet and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective. Safak has adapted a biocultural approach in order to explain how biology and behavior affect each other over time and, in turn, human health. She is particularly interested in cultural, political, behavioral, and nutritional influences on maternal size, reproductive health, birth outcomes and child survivability in eastern Turkey. Safak completed her previous education in Turkey, earning her BS in Anthropology in 2007 at Cumhuriyet University and her MA at Ankara University in 2010. [Email Safak]

A. Caitlin Lester is a PhD student in the International and Comparative Education program and in Sociocultural Anthropology. Her fields of interest include feminist theory and methodology, critical social theory, student agitational movements, subaltern counterpolitics, and narratives of national and transnational citizenship. Her current research focuses on responses of national and transnational student unions to the Bologna Process and national higher education reform in post-socialist Hungary. Caitlin received bachelor's degrees in English and Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego.  [Email Caitlin]

Rebecca Mueller

Rebecca Mueller is pursuing a dual MA/MPH through IU’s Russian and East European Institute and the new IUB School of Public Health. Rebecca is an alumna of Smith College, where she received her BA in Anthropology in 2008. In 2008-09, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Georgia (for a short time) and later Albania, where she worked as a health educator. At IU, Rebecca studies behavioral, social and community health and contemporary issues in the Balkans: labor migration, health, human rights, and the influence of socialist legacies, conflict, and European integration on the formation of national identity. In 2013, she was awarded an American Councils Advanced Research Fellowship for fieldwork on deinstitutionalization and community mental healthcare in Albania. Her MA project considers these efforts as a case study that illustrates changing notions of state, community, family, and individual roles in the maintenance of biological and social well-being after socialism. [Email Rebecca]

Elizabeth (Libby) J. Pfeiffer

Elizabeth (Libby) J. Pfeiffer is a PhD Candidate in Social-Cultural Anthropology with specializations in Medical Anthropology, Development/Globalization, and a doctoral minor in African Studies.  Libby has conducted anthropological research in the U.S., Jamaica, and Kenya that broadly explores issues of health, social inequalities, globalization and development, gender, and education.  With funding from a NIH predoctoral training fellowship award in Translational Research (TL1RR025759; A. Shekhar, PI) and a Kinsey Institute Graduate Student Research Grant, she spent the 2011/12 academic year and summer engaged in ethnographic research that centered on HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination in a community located along a major highway in western Kenya.  Libby is currently analyzing the data she collected in Kenya and writing her dissertation with the support of an Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Fellowship Award. [Email Libby]

Elena Popa

Elena Popa is a PhD student in Sociocultural Anthropology. Her research interests focus geographically on Eastern and Western Europe (particularly Romania and France), and thematically on post-socialist transformations, migration, labor, gender studies, globalization, citizenship, and identity. For her dissertation Elena plans to research the topic of transnational migration between Eastern and Western Europe, with a focus on Romanian women’s labor migration after 1989, taking as a case study the migration to France (mainly to Bordeaux and Paris). She is interested in assessing the socio-cultural consequences of migration on a micro-level, i.e. for Romanian families from rural communities, and in understanding the relationship between gender and work in post-1989 migratory regimes. Elena completed her BA in Romanian Language and Literature/ Ethnology and Folklore in 2008 at the University of Bucharest and her MA in Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology, and Folklore at the University of Bucharest and the University of Bordeaux in 2010. [Email Elena]

Julie Johnson Searcy is a PhD student in Sociocultural Anthropology and Communication and Culture with research experience in the U.S., Tanzania, and South Africa. She is broadly interested in gender, reproduction, health and culture, and science and technology in both the United States and Southern Africa. Her dissertation project addresses the uneven ground where reproduction, disease and technology intersect in South Africa. Her dissertation project will examine how a chronic disease like HIV/AIDS—and the technologies that accompany it—intersect with the technologies of reproduction. In looking at the ways women negotiate the different technologies that surround birth and disease, her study seeks to address larger issues of how cultures conceive, define and enact boundaries between life and death. Trained as a birth doula and a childbirth educator, Julie is also working on a research project focusing on the role of doulas in U.S. births. [Email Julie]

Antonina Semivolos

Antonina Semivolos, originally a native of Ukraine, received her BA in Economics and European Studies from New York University. She is the first student to pursue a dual JD/MA degree at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law and Russian & East European Institute (REEI). Antonina’s academic focus is on language policies and problems in the countries that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as on policy issues surrounding the laws regulating Internet technology on the territory of Russia and Ukraine. After completing her Doctor of Jurisprudence in December 2013, Antonina plans to travel to Ukraine, where she will continue her examination of Ukraine’s language policies since country’s independence in 1991. [Email Antonina]


Completed Doctoral and Master’s Degree Students

Emily J. Young, MA (REEI/SLIS; co-chair with Susan Herring), Alt-SHIFT: Queer Online Discourses on Coming Out in Serbia (2012)

Heidi Bludau, PhD, Searching for Respect: Czech Nurses in the Global Economy (2011)

Olga Bueva, MA (REEI), Pictures from the Margins: Disability and Difference in post-Socialist Art (2011)

Laura Linderman, MA (Anthropology, co-chair with Beverly Stoeltje), The Gendered Feast: Experiencing a Georgian Supra (2011)

P. Brooke Swafford, MA (Anthropology) Passed qualifying exams for the MA. (2011)

Abby Drwecki, PhD, Dangerous Women: Self-Defense, Individuation and Gender in post-Socialist Poland (2010)

Yuryi Napelenok, MA (REEI), “Together we are many": Popular Music and Public Participation in Ukraine (2010)

Mary L. Kozub, PhD, The Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the US: Trends and Family Experiences (2008)

Dmitriy Upart, MA (REEI), Nuclear Catastrophes and Socioeconomic Ramifications: The Belarus Case (2008)

Joseph Crescente, MA (REEI), Performing Post-Sovietness: Verka Serduchka and the Hybridization of Identity in post-Soviet Ukraine (2007)


Individualized Major and Anthropology Honors Students

Served as faculty sponsor for graduates of Indiana University’s Individualized Major Program

Molly Langteau, “Therapeutic Nutrition and Holistic Medicine” (co-sponsor with Catherine Tucker) (2011)

Beth Underdahl-Peirce, “Therapeutic Horticulture and Holistic Health” (2011)

Served as chair of Undergraduate Anthropology Honors Papers

Rebeca Laracuente, “Maternal Mortality, Midwifery, and Childbirth in Guatamala: A Historical and Ethnographic Perspective” (2010)

Laura Ciancone, “The Problem with the Penis: Phalloplasty and the 21st Century Male” (2012)