Graduate Students

BEAR Network Graduate Mobility Grant 2018-2019

Katarina Koleva

Katarina KOLEVA

Katarina Koleva is a PhD candidate at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, at Carleton University, where she works in close collaboration with the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. Katarina’s dissertation seeks to understand under what conditions Russia resorts to use of military force – undertakes risky and costly military interventions – in some conflicts in the post-Soviet space but not in others. More broadly, Katarina’s research interests include international mediation, with a focus on Russian and EU foreign policy; involvement in protracted conflicts in the post-Soviet space; democratization and reforms in post-communist countries; and political communication strategies. Katarina possesses a proven record of publications as a journalist and scholar. Part of her MA thesis comparing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, through the lens of Izvestiia, was published as a book chapter, by Routledge, in 2016. The 2018-19 BEAR Grant, will support her research visit to MGIMO, Russia.

Alexandra Liebich

Alexandra LIEBICH

Alexandra Liebich is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University, as well as a SSHRC CGS Bombardier Scholar and a EUSA Doctoral Fellow. Her research interests include: comparative nationalism, kin-state activism, inter-ethnic relations, education, citizenship, and institutional design in divided societies. Her thesis project is a comparative study of education policy and practice in post-communist Romania and post-Soviet Lithuania. In particular, she is exploring the question of minority education in these settings and how ethno-cultural minorities have been integrated or segregated, included in or excluded from educational institutions since 1989-90. She is also very interested in research methods and pedagogy within Political Science. Through her doctoral work she hopes to continually engage in teaching, research, and the sharing of knowledge. The 2018-19 BEAR Grant, will support her research visit to the University of Glasgow, UK. Alexandra was also a recipient of the BEAR Mobility Grant to Glasgow Multi-Methods Workshop, October 2018. To read her mobility report for the Multi-Methods Workshop, click here.

Alina Sayfutdinova


Alina Sayfutdinova is pursuing her MA degree in European Studies at the EURUS Program at Carleton University. Her passion for politics and international relations was the driving force behind her decision to study politics at the undergraduate level at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University. For her MA project, Alina will examine the current security relationship between Russia, NATO, and the EU. Her research aims to disclose the nature of this relationship which is of high importance for the European security, the surrounding regions and beyond. In June 2018, Alina participated in the BEAR Summer School at the University of Montreal which had a positive impact on her knowledge and research skills. Pursuing a PhD degree in foreign policy or international affairs is one of her future goals. The 2018-19 BEAR Grant, will support her research visit to the University of Glasgow, UK.

BEAR Network Graduate Mobility Grant to Glasgow Multi-Methods Workshop, October 2018

Courtney Blackington


Courtney Blackington is a PhD student in Political Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she has received the Royster Fellowship. She holds a MA in Political Science from Columbia University and a BA in Government from the College of William and Mary. Her research focuses on how variations in institutions and political culture affect the degree of democratic backsliding in Central and Eastern European countries. She is also interested in exploring under which conditions civil society organization leaders are able to effectively leverage social networks to encourage citizens to protest against illiberal policies. To read her mobility report, click here.

Katherine Crofts-Gibbons


Katherine Crofts-Gibbons is a first year PhD candidate at King’s College London’s Russia Institute. She is ESRC funded through a LISS-DTP Studentship. Katherine previously completed an MPhil in Russian and East European Studies at Oxford University. Her research focused on the response of the Kyrgyz government to protest movements. Her PhD research applies the same research questions to other non-democratic states in the post-Soviet space. Following her MPhil, Katherine worked for two years in the private sector as an intelligence analyst, specialising in domestic extremism. To read her mobility report, click here.

Alexandra Wishart

Alexandra WISHART

Alexandra Wishart is a graduate student in the International Master in Central and Eastern European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (CEERES) double degree program at the University of Glasgow, University of Tartu and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Holding a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies from Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, she is one of the founding members of Lossi 36, a student-led think tank covering news from the CEERE region where she works as both coordinator and writer. Apart from specializing in political activism and social movements in contemporary Ukraine, she takes an interest in Polish-Belarusian relations and how they affect identity and ethnicity in the region. In her professional life, she is an experienced trainer in cultural diplomacy and negotiation and aspires to become a political analyst. To read her mobility report, click here.

Hiba Zerrougui


Hiba Zerrougui is a PhD candidate in Political Science at McGill University. She holds a BA degree in International Studies from the University of Montreal. Working under the supervision of Professor Juan Wang, her dissertation focuses on contentious politics in authoritarian regimes in Middle East and North Africa. More specifically, her research explores how the state operates and how national and local political actors govern in autocratic settings in which protests and riots are said to be commonplace. Her research is supported by a Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2015-2018), a McGill Graduate Mobility Award (2018), the Schull Yang International Experience Award (2017) and the Project on Middle East Political Science Travel – Research – Engagement grant (2018). To read her mobility report, click here.

BEAR Network Graduate Mobility Grant 2017-2018

Kirsty Kay

Kirsty KAY

Kirsty Kay is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, a member of the ‘Statehood, Nationhood and Identity’ research group in the Department of Central and East European Studies. Her dissertation looks at ethnocultural forms of minority-kin state nationalism in contemporary Hungary. Through an ethnographic study of the táncház (dance house) folk dance revival in Hungary and Romania, she is investigating how the historical and contemporary political protection of minority cultural forms by the Hungarian state fosters an enduring ethnonational identity based on these processes of minority integration and cultural reproduction. To read her mobility report, click here.

Stefan Morar

Stefan MORAR

Stefan Morar is a PhD student in political science at University of Montreal. He studied post-graduate studies at College of Europe, specializing in the European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership of the European Union. He holds a MA in Political Science at Free University of Brussels, Belgium, and a BA degree in European Studies and International Relations at Babes Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca, Romania. His research focuses on nationalism in the post-Soviet states, working under the supervision of Magdalena Dembinska. He is also interested in Transitional Justice in Central and Eastern Europe, and the external action of the European Union, namely the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the European Neighborhood Policy, and the Eastern Partnership. To read his mobility report, click here.

Ognen Vangelov


Ognen Vangelov is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada where he has also been honoured with the Canada Vanier Fellowship. He has completed his BA in linguistics at the University of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, Macedonia, and MA in International and Intercultural Communication at the University of Denver in the USA as a Ron Brown Scholar. His work experience includes lecturing at three different universities, the ELTE in Budapest, Inalco in Paris and Indiana University-Bloomington, from 2005-2013. He has also worked as an analyst in an international think-tank organization. He has experience in journalism and has worked as a translator/interpreter. His current research focuses on processes of democratic recession in countries of Central and Eastern Europe, particularly the way in which nationalism and informal institutions feature in such processes. To read his mobility report, click here.