SLP DC Trip Spring 2020

The Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program (SLP) is a year-long academic program designed to increase a student’s ability to understand, analyze, and create policy related to national security and the management of international conflict.

Students in the SLP are required to take the two courses that form the basis of the program and regularly interact with guest lecturers from around UGA and the national security communities. In the first semester, students enroll in INTL4415: Practicum in Security Studies. This seminar-style course offers an overview of the field of security studies and focuses on skills-building. In the second semester, students enroll in INTL4425R: Advanced Research in International Security Policy, where they complete a faculty-supervised independent research project on an issue relevant to national, international, or human security. Past research topics have addressed issues such as the US’s expanded use of export controls to limit Chinese economic growth, the risks climate change poses to military infrastructure, disinformation campaigns in Tanzania and Ghana, and the influence of gender on terrorism charges and sentencing. See the “Independent Research Project Abstracts” link below for summaries of recent projects.

SLP fellows have the opportunity to attend the annual CITS in DC Spring Break trip alongside students from our Master in International Policy program. While the itinerary for the trip varies from year to year, past trips have included visits to meet with practitioners from security-relevant government agencies (Department of State, Department of Energy/NNSA, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, FBI, intelligence agencies) and think-tanks (Center for Strategic &  International Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and others).

The SLP offers a variety of opportunities designed to facilitate the professionalization of students interested in the security field. Participants have gone on to positions in the US government, the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, high-technology manufacturers, consulting firms, and prestigious academic institutions.

Each semester of the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program confers three (3) hours of academic credit. This program is NOT limited to students from any particular academic background. Students of all disciplines and year levels are encouraged to apply. More information can be found below. With questions, reach out to or Dr. Maryann Gallagher (, Director of the SLP.

2021-2022 SLP Cohort Application Information

Applications for the 2021-2022 SLP cohort are currently under review. The selected candidates will be notified by mid-April.

Please direct all questions to Dr. Maryann Gallagher (, Director of the SLP.


Starting in fall 2020, cohorts will only begin in the fall, rather than on a semesterly-basis. 

Current SLP Cohort: Fall 2020 - Spring 2021
Ayah Abdelwahab

Ayah Abdelwahab is an Athens, Georgia native and a junior studying International Affairs and Economics. Through the CURO Honors Scholars Program, they have conducted research with Dr. Micah Gell-Redman and most recently, Dr. K Chad Clay. Their current project analyzes the impact of manufacturing FDI on respect for labor rights. On campus, they serve as the Legislative Director for the Spencer Frye Fellowship, a collegiate intern with Athens Peer Court, and an honors teaching assistant. They are also involved with the Student Union, the SPIA Ambassadors program, and the Office of the Dean of Students Ambassador program.





Mennah Abdelwahab

Mennah Abdelwahab is a third-year international affairs and journalism major, born and raised in Athens, Georgia. Through CURO, they have been conducting human rights research with Dr. K. Chad Clay since their freshman year. They are involved with the Representative Spencer Frye Fellowship and UGA’s Student Government Association. They also serve as an ambassador for the School of Public and international Affairs, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Dean of Students’ Office. 






Albert Chen

Albert Chen is a second-year student from Marietta, Georgia, majoring in International Affairs, Finance, and International Business and minoring in Music and Chinese. During their first year, they served as principal violist in the UGA Philharmonic. Currently, they are an operations assistant in the UGA University Judiciary, are a member of the Data 4 Good Hackathon Planning Committee, and play the viola in the UGA Symphony Orchestra.






Annabelle Cochran

Annabelle Cochran is a second-year from St. Simons Island, Georgia. They are majoring in international Affairs with minors in Studio Art, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology. During their time at UGA, they have been heavily involved with Model United Nations, Refugee Outreach, Student Government, and the Student Ambassadors. Additionally, under the direction of Dr. Molly Berkemeier, they have spent time researching the impact of presidential rhetoric on historical global proliferation efforts.





Kendall Embrey

Kendall Embrey is a third-year student from Kent Island, Maryland majoring in International Affairs with a minor in Religion. Throughout their time at UGA they have studied abroad in China for an entire month with a SPIA-led program where they experienced the unique culture while learning first-hand about U.S. and Chinese relations. Along with this they have been involved in many extracurricular activities such as UGA Miracle, Shop with a Bulldawg, and Sigma Kappa sorority.






Xzavior Goeman

Xzavior Goeman is a fourth-year at UGA studying both International Affairs and Russian. They were born and raised mostly in Maine but have lived in Georgia for the last ten years. During their time at UGA, they worked on an independent research project with CURO under the guidance of Dr. Andrew Owsiak, where they examined the history of the DCIs/DNIs to determine the merits of their leadership style, policy goals, and overall effectiveness of the position. During their sophomore summer, they had the opportunity to travel abroad to Russia where they studied the culture and language that they would use as Russian Club president during their junior year. As president, they worked with students and professors to hold meetings and help with department events while the UGA community about Russian society. Furthermore, they are a member of the Russian Flagship Program, where they will hopefully be accepted into a capstone year in Kazakhstan following graduation.


Jonathan Lauria

Jonathan Lauria is a junior hailing from the great town of Fayetteville, Georgia, who studies International Affairs and Risk Management/Insurance. Outside of the Student Leadership Program, they are also a member of the Leonard Leadership Scholars through Terry College and serve as one of the Institute for Leadership Advancement’s two leadership events interns for the 2020-2021 school year. They have had the privilege of being a part of multiple research projects at UGA, first in the field of U.S.-Israeli relations under Dr. Lee Lukoff as well as heading up their own independent and ongoing project under the guidance of Dr. Justin Conrad. The independent project seeks to find a common ground between National Security threat assessments and traditional private-sector Risk Management strategies and examines ways in which the two distinct fields can inform and improve one another. The latter project has been awarded a Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities assistantship for the fall 2020 semester. Outside of the classroom, they greatly enjoy pick-up baseball and basketball as well as volunteering in the community with their local church. 


Audrey Park

Audrey Park is a third-year Management the Information Systems major with an area of emphasis in Data Analytics and a minor in Public Health. They are from Duluth, Georgia. During their first year, they were part of WSEM— an acapella group on campus— and were the Assistant PR Officer for Association of Computing Machinery. Since their first year, they have also been an active member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. They have had two internships since their first year, one being last summer at the Cobb County Office of the Solicitor-General where they created a presentation and conducted interviews on the dangers of distracted driving and the other was a campaign internship with Lucy McBath for Congress.




Sahana Parker

Sahana Parker is from Atlanta, Georgia. They are currently a second-year Astrophysics major with a Geography minor and Sustainability Certificate. In the future, they would like to study forms of life in its most extreme environments and its potential for development on other planets as an astrobiologist. Since they have been at UGA, they have been involved with student organizations like PERIOD @ UGA, which aims to improve menstrual equity in the Athens community and nationwide, EcoReach, which brings lessons about sustainability and the environment to local schools, UGarden, and Greenability, which conducts sustainability-oriented policy research for local representatives. Last semester, they served as an International Language Partner for a Turkish student, where they helped with preparing for the IELTS language test. They also write and edit science-oriented stories for the local publication Athens Science Observer and play on the women’s ultimate frisbee club team. 



Lindsey Rhyne 

Lindsey Rhyne is a sophomore at UGA originally from Marietta, Georgia. They are majoring in International Affairs and minoring in Religion, as well as taking classes to learn Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. During their time at UGA, they have been involved with the Honors College, undergraduate research through CURO, and other extracurricular groups such as college radio and campus ministries. 







Christopher Rosselot

Christopher Rosselot, a second-year student from Decatur, Georgia, studies International Affairs and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. As a first-year at UGA, they co-wrote and helped enact a policy aiming to accurately enumerate the Athens-Clarke County postsecondary student population in the 2020 Census. The Roosevelt Institute published the “UGACounts” policy idea in their 2020 10 Ideas Journal. In addition, they write and edit analysis/opinion pieces for Georgia Political Review (GPR), expand the operations of The Backpack Project (TBP) to other universities, and coordinate the COVID-19 Resource Map for the Athens-based nonprofit, The GroundBreakers Network.





Nate Shear

Nate Shear is a third-year at UGA from Woodstock, Georgia, majoring in Finance and international Business with certificates in Sustainability and Organizational Leadership. During their time at UGA, they have been a member of the Apollo Society, Society of Entrepreneurs, Tate Society, Terry Student Researchers, and a Resident Assistant for University Housing. Last summer, they had the opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneurship Department’s Idea Accelerator in which they finished as a runner-up. In addition to the SLP, they are a Leonard Leadership Scholar in the Institute for Leadership Advancement’s two-year academic program.



Addie Sparks

Addie Sparks is a third-year International Affairs and Political Science major, minoring in Spanish and Latin American & Caribbean Studies at the University of Georgia. Last spring, they attended the University of Oxford through SPIA and studied Political Philosophy and Spanish. They are an Honors Teaching Assistant this semester in the University’s Honors College, a clarinetist and Rank Leader in the Redcoat Band, and a volunteer with SHIFA Clinic, a student-run healthcare clinic for uninsured people in Athens. They have conducted historical research on revolutionary Mexico and hope to further study Latin America, specifically in reference to institutional design and labor movements. After graduation, they hope to teach English and serve in the Peace Corps in Latin America before pursuing additional higher education.




Kat Symons

Kat Symons is from Peachtree City, Georgia and is a junior studying international Affairs. They are a cadet with the UGA Army ROTC Bulldog Battalion with the intention of going active duty and branching Military intelligence or Aviation. They were one of 80 cadets selected to attend the U.S. Army Air Assault school, but their attendance has been postponed till next summer due to Covid-19. They are also a member of Rescue Paws UGA and the former event coordinator for the annual “Puppies in the Park” adoption event. Last summer, they had the opportunity to study political science and Chinese culture in China through SPIA. They have experience with elementary Arabic and have studied Spanish for eight years. They have also enjoyed being a member of multiple intramural teams as well as the captain of the Army ROTC volleyball IM team. They are also a member of Alpha Phi sorority and an advocate for the Alpha Phi Foundation for Women’s Heart Health and Research. 



Andrew Zach

Andrew Zach is a junior from Dunwoody, Georgia majoring in Political Science, Philosophy, and International Affairs and minoring in Spanish. At UGA, they have served as both Assistant Senior Editor and Communications Director of the Georgia Political Review, a nonpartisan, student-run policy journal. In addition, they are an active member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society, a historic literary society that hosts weekly debates and discussions about social and political issues. They also currently serve as the Operations Director of the Undergraduate Moot Court Team. Their research interests are quite expansive and often fall at the intersection of their academic majors; these include the interactions/conflicts between courts and legislatures, American administrative law, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, political philosophy, and early-modern Western philosophy. In the Fall of 2019, under the guidance of Dr. Charles Bullock through the UGA Honors Policy Scholars program, they wrote a policy-white paper recommending action by the Department of Justice and Congress in reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder and its subsequent impact on voting rights in the American South; it was published in the 2020 Roosevelt at UGA Policy Journal. Most recently, they studied abroad for the first three months of 2020 at the University of Oxford in the UK. 

Independent Research Project Abstracts

Ian Allen (Fall 2020)

“American Export Controls as Counter-China Trade Weapons”

The Trump administration explicitly intends to integrate economic and security policies to counter China’s rise. This is often posed as a major change to how export controls are used, however  there has been little empirical analysis of this change. This study attempts to provide such support by analyzing and comparing the regulatory habits of the Trump administration and its predecessors since 2002.


Alexa Hernandez (Fall 2020)

“Online Recruitment by Far Right Groups” 

Far right groups have gained more ground in the United States through avenues of online recruitment, such as utilizing social media and pushing group membership through online platforms. This engagement is a domestic security threat that allows for the galvanization of these groups to create a stronghold via the internet for the main purpose of creating unrest in the United States for their group’s personal gain. The United States should continue working with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, as it does not require extensive monetary contributions from the Federal Government, or extensive manpower as it is centralized with social media companies.


Zainub Ali (Fall 2020)

“Tracking the Presence of Protest in Oil Wealthy Rentier States from 2014-2015 with the Existence of ‘Weather the Shock’ Economic Policies”

The literature on the resource curse theory suggests that countries with oil wealth have access to rents from exports to engage in clientelism and patronage networks as a means to appease and buy off political opposition. This research considers why oil wealthy, rentier states still experience protests if their leaders have the capacity to buy off political opposition. The author theorizes that oil-wealthy rentier states experienced protests because they did not have “weather the shock” policies in place; however, data collected does not indicate a strong and consistent relationship between both variables.  


Rehna Sheth (Fall 2020)

“A Comparative Analysis of Intra-state and Inter-state Violent Conflict on Education Enrollment and Completion Rates”

Given that education plays a key role in the growth and prosperity of a nation’s economy and society, especially during post-conflict recovery, this study advances previous research focused solely on the impact of either intra-state or inter-state conflicts on education by doing a comparative analysis using case studies and data from the Second Republic of Congo Civil War and the Persian Gulf War. It was found that the location of combat plays a crucial role in determining how badly a state’s education enrollment and completion rates are affected. In addition, while violent conflict causes short-term, drastic negative consequences to education, impediments to the economy can have more long-term, slow negative consequences to education and the future prosperity of a nation after a conflict.


Natalie Navarette (Fall 2020)

“Russian Holistic Investment in Latin America: A Counter to the Security Interests of the United States” 

While Russia’s foreign policy strategy in Latin America focuses on undermining the United States’ ability to meet its national security goals, it is unable to take advantage of traditional investment strategies utilized by the U.S. and China. As a result, Russia has pursued a strategy that this paper classifies as Russian Holistic Investment (RHI) which includes Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), media/education influence, and the exchange of energy supplies. A connection between increased RHI and votes cast in opposition to US interests in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) by Latin American countries was investigated, demonstrating the efficacy of the establishment of public channels of Russian media in this regard.


Mariah Cady (Fall 2020)

“The 2015 European Refugee and Migrant Crisis: Press Coverage Across Germany and the United Kingdom”

The refugee crisis of 2015 indelibly altered the landscape of European immigration policy. This research analyzes center left media coverage of the refugee crisis in late Summer 2015 in Germany and the United Kingdom as an influence on public perception, and finds that media coverage in both nations was rarely positive, and most negative in the U.K. The work serves as a call to action on the human-security front – the normalized portrayal of refugees in neutral and negative lights in center left newspapers serves as a window into the fragmentation of public opinion in Europe, even among historically accepting domestic audiences. 


Micah Wallesen (Fall 2020)

“Nuclear Material Transportation Security”

The possibility of loss and theft of nuclear materials during the transportation process creates a dangerous vulnerability that could strengthen the threat of nuclear terrorism. While the existing policy is adequate, the growing threat of nuclear terrorism should motivate the United States to strengthen its policies before an incident occurs. I recommend that the United States create a new system for escorting civilian owned nuclear materials by utilizing the existing Office of Secure Transportation federal agent escorts; Additionally, I recommend strengthening the reporting and tracking capabilities of the Nuclear Material Management Safeguard System.


Alex Fabre de la Grange (Fall 2020)

“How Gender Impacts Equity in Terrorism Cases”

A shift in ISIS’ view of women has resulted in women holding more active positions in the organization, such as recruiters and suicide bombers. However, evidence suggests this shift has not been recognized, and judicial systems across the world are continuing to view women charged with ISIS related criminal offenses through the lens of gender norms, stereotypes, and a perceived lack of female agency. This paper investigated differences in sentencing lengths between men and women charged with criminal association in relation to a terrorist enterprise in France, and discovered women on average, when compared to men, receive shorter sentencing lengths.


Adrina Bradley (Fall 2020)

“Sexual Violence and Disasters”

The study seeks to establish a database of sexual violence changes relative to disaster occurrence, and then compare the sexual violence changes against a number of measures for underlying theories surrounding why sexual violence occurs post disaster. The mechanisms behind the increase in sexual violence include economic destabilization, a decrease in personal security and the cultural environment surrounding gender and sex. The study determined that all measures of sexual violence increase following a natural disaster. 


Emma Traynor (Fall 2020)

“Combating Illicit Firearms Trafficking from the U.S. to Mexico”

By taking advantage of lenient U.S. gun laws, Mexican organized crime groups (OCGs) can traffic illicit firearms from the U.S. to Mexico, allowing them to perpetrate local violence and expand their international trafficking and smuggling operations. As one of the world’s biggest consumers of illegal drugs, the U.S. has a stake in stemming organized crime groups that traffic narcotics. Imposing stricter domestic gun policies in the U.S., in conjunction with expanding data collection on this issue and improving technology at the border, will mitigate OCGs’ abilities to obtain high powered weapons and better inform future efforts to combat illicit firearms trafficking.

Past SLP Cohorts

Spring 2020

Zainub Ali

Ian Allen

Miranda Bourdeau

Adrina Bradley

Mariah Cady

Nia Everteze

Alex Fabre De La Grange

Alexa Hernandez

Sam Lombardo

David Mustard

Natalie Navarrete

Isaac Parham

Rehna Sheth

Emma Traynor

Micha Wallesen


Fall 2019

Matthew Aldridge

Robyn Anzulis

Marshall Berton

Rosa Brown

Christina Chu

Adriana Dale

Sam Daly

Chase Duncan

Avery Eddy

Emily Goggin

Eleanor Goldin

Griffin Hamstead

Jena Jibreen

Faeez Juneja

Rachel Markhoff

Anna Patterson

Ivan Ruiz-Hernandez

Emily Threlkeld


Spring 2019

Rebecca Buechler

Stephanie Cannon

Elizabeth Carter

Charley Claudio

Mary Beth Dicks

Arden Farr

Robert Gluzman

Nick Hughes

Dane Hulsey

Patrick Jenkins

Mary McCarthy

Thomas Russell

Matilda Segal

Meredith Van de Velde

Tricia White


Fall 2018

Allison Reid

Alyssa Hoover

Amanda Tysor

Celeste Norton

Joseph Atkins

Kadi Bortle

Kal Hicks

Karan Pol

Mary Craig Lindgren

Nicki Brown

Noble Jacob

Ryan Slusher

Samantha Barnes

SK Lasseigne

Zoe Bayer


Spring 2018

Austin Emery

Candice Lee

Caroline Gustavson

Erica Bressner

Folakemi Akinola

Grant Mercer

Jack Maerz

Joe Mahoney

Julia Ricciarduli

Megan Gillahan

Nia Harris

Seamus Murrock


Fall 2017

Austin Gignilliat

Bryanna Shook

Caleb Kirby

Cheikh Faye

Chloe Deitrich

Daria Kolpakova

George McCall

Haidi Al-Shabrawey

Kara Joyce

Louis Conde

Mauli Desai

Sierra Runnels

Swapnil Agrawal

Featured SLP Alumni

Learn more about Kathleen Nisbet from the Spring 2015 SLP Cohort.


Jack Slagle SLP Alumnus Feature

Learn more about Jack Slagle from the Fall 2011 SLP Cohort.


Learn more about Emily Threlkeld from the Fall 2019 SLP Cohort.