Our Fellows

Social Science Works is supported by an increasing group of Fellows.

Our fellows comprise a diverse, international group of scholars, mostly based in Germany, that share the core ideas behind Social Science Works.

They strive to contribute to the societal relevance of social science and to the quality of democratic decision making. For that account, they publish quality articles and blogs on our homepage targeting a broad audience and they can be hired by us to write second opinions on research about which they have expertise. Additionally, they regularly support our workshops – especially the ones on deliberation – as moderators and consultants.

Laila Keeling

Laila Keeling is an undergraduate student at Northeastern University in Boston, studying Political Science and Economics. Most of her coursework thus far has focused on modern political thought and theory, as well as social change in the American political climate. Laila’s interest in immigration politics has largely stemmed from having grown up near the US/Mexico border and therefore witnessing the extensive influence that immigration over the Mexican border has on life and culture within the US. Laila has previously studied the misuse of solitary confinement by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and is interested in comparing the experiences of refugees in Germany and the US. In her spare time, Laila enjoys traveling, baking, and being outdoors. Together with Anjali Zyla, Laila was an intern at Social Science Works in the first half of 2022. During this time, she conducted a large number of interviews with refugees in Brandenburg.

Anjali Zyla

Anjali Zyla is a third-year student at Northeastern University, where she studies Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. She previously completed an internship at a law firm in California that focused primarily on immigration law, where she was exposed to the systemic inequalities facing immigrants and refugees in the United States. As an intern at Social Science Works, she is interested in learning more about the experiences of refugees in Germany and policies that can help them. In the first half of 2022, she and Laila Keeling conducted a large number of interviews with refugees in Brandenburg.

Dr. Nargiza Nizamedinkhodjayeva

Nargiza Nizamedinkhodjayeva is a seasoned researcher with over a decade of experience in international development projects and programs. Her professional journey includes postdoctoral work with international research organizations, most notably the Global Green Growth Institute, the World Agroforestry Center, and the International Water Management Institute.

Nargiza earned her PhD from the Wageningen School of Social Sciences. Additionally, she holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Economic Relations from Uzbekistan.

Her research portfolio focusses on critical areas such as sustainability, gender dynamics, institutional analysis, livelihoods, and migration. Furthermore, she possesses expertise in climate-smart natural resource management, capacity building, and interdisciplinary research. Nargiza is at home in a range of research methodologies, including grounded theory, participatory approaches, and both quantitative and qualitative methods and techniques. Currently, her research interests extend to the realms of digitization, digital sociology, and innovation.

Nils Wadt MA

Nils Wadt has been connected to Social Science Works from the very beginning. Nils finished his Bachelor degree in Sociology and Political Science in Cologne and Frankfurt. Both schools are grounded in different research traditions, Frankfurt with a strong background in Critical Theory (Horkheimer & Adorno, Frankfurter Schule) and Cologne with a strong background in empirical research and methodology (René König, Kölner Schule). Nils completed his graduate degree in Social Science at Humboldt University Berlin integrating the different academic backgrounds.

In his Master thesis Nils researched the political motivations and social values of civil volunteers in the refugee sector. His academic profile is leaning towards qualitative methods backed up by general competence in quantitative analysis. His qualitative focus covers methods such as genealogy, content analysis, as well as a variety of interview techniques and participatory observation.

Besides his studies, Nils Wadt worked at Chairs of Sociology, Political Theory, Psychology and Economics, gaining insights into the different research practices and epistemological groundings.

Within his work and studies in the academy, Nils Wadt apprehended the problems, contemporary social science is facing. This includes not only the separation between empirical research practice and the evaluation of its epistemological assumptions, but also the growing irrelevancy of academic research to civil society. His commitment to the project of Social Science Works is grounded in this apprehension. 

Alessia Arbustini MA

Alessia obtained a Master in Gender Studies with special reference to the Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Her thesis addressed how young Muslims challenge islamophobic propaganda in Italy. She holds a BA in Anthropology, Religion and Oriental Civilization at the University of Bologna, Italy. Her main research interests lie in queer and feminist diaspora studies, migration and displacement, gender issues related to new nationalisms and feminist and queer knowledge production. She is currently an educator at a Berlin refugee home for unaccompanied minor refugees. Here she is working with 16 teenagers, mostly male, of 14-17 years of age. In addition, she is a learning support assistant at Nelson Mandela International School, where she supports primary kids with special needs. Previously, she volunteered as a project assistant at Centro Donna Giustizia (women’s shelter) in a project addressed to survivors of human trafficking in Italy. In London, she volunteered as project assistant for the Afghan and Central Asia Association(ACAA), where she assisted Afghan women during English lessons and helped to organize weekly workshops on the topic of their interests (Tea corner project).

Sahba Salehi MA

Sahba Salehi studied International Humanitarian Action (NOHA) at the University of Groningen. She has previously studied International Development at the University of Edinburgh and has an undergraduate degree in English Language. She has experience working with the Danish Refugee Council on a project for Afghan refugee children’s access to education in Iran. Prior to this, Sahba also has worked as a language teacher and an education coordinator in a comm

unity center in Tehran. She is passionate about alternative types of education as a means of social change and promoting equality. Her other interests include issues related to working with communities on different areas such as education, participation, and integration. As an intern with Social Science Works, Sahba is excited to improve her knowledge of democracy and deliberation. She is also interested in exploring the impacts of SSW as a local NGO on the community and the challenges, achievements, and learnt lessons of the projects.

Genevieve Soucek BA

Genevieve is a predoctoral graduate student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, studying Cultural and Medical Anthropology. She obtained a B.S. in Medical Anthropology from the Ohio State University, where her senior thesis was about the shifting research trends on Turkish migrants living in Germany and the effect on physical and mental health and well-being. After minoring in German and studying abroad in Salzburg for a short time, she has been interested in returning to a German-speaking country for research. Her interests for her future dissertation fieldwork are broadly about migration to Germany, possibly, climate and environmental migration, identity formation, and the moral economy of humanitarianism in Germany. As a summer intern at Social Science Works (2023), she is interested in learning about the experience of migration for refugees and how it influences their identity and sense of belonging. Genevieve conducted several interviews with refugees that are published on our website.

Isabel Romijnders BA

Isabel is a recent graduate of the BSc International Development Studies at the Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. Her study focused on policy implementation, grassroots innovation, and human rights philosophy. In her BSc thesis, she explored the accountability of Civil Society Organizations that are active in the humanitarian aid field. She would like to gain a better understanding of bottom-up approaches of organizations that address crucial social issues. Therefore, in 2023, before starting an MSc, she joined Social Science Works to develop actionable knowledge, practical skills and learn more about addressing issues such as integration, radicalization, and citizen participation.

Yusril Nurhidayat BA

Zélie Marchand

Zélie is studying political science in France at the Université Paris-Est-Créteil. She focuses on the education for peace, and would like to become involved in the management of humanitarian projects. Indeed, for her, being educated means being able to think for oneself, and therefore not being subject to the ideas and wishes of others. And to be educated for peace is to be led by the believe in an international community and in dialogue over violence. She is convinced that the great challenges ahead can only be solved through international solidarity. As a short-term intern at Social Science Works, she wants to explore the organization’s actions, in particular the deliberative workshops, to understand how these can influence the trajectory of people in difficulty.

Milad Rezaei MFA

Milad began his academic journey in sociology at an “underground” and “illegal” university called BIHE, aimed at those deprived of higher education. Later, as an artist, he obtained his B.F.A in Photography and Film from Virginia Commonwealth University where he explored the notions of oppression, compassion, and what it means to be a human being. During his M.F.A in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies at Bauhaus Universität Weimar, he began to teach courses with the title “Mind, Body and Everything in Between: An Introduction to Mindfulness in Arts.” In his socially engaged public art works, he explores the experience of what it means to be a self, not only on the level of personality and psychosocial identity, but also the self as the first-person experience. He is eager to invite and engage human beings to contemplate what it means to be a self. In his recent artwork called “reselfing,” he explores this experience in an audio walk he created for the public in Weimar. If you catch him in the early mornings, you will find him in deep silence, waiting for a poem to land in his heart so he can plant it with ink in his notebook.

Milad shares some of his works at www.miladrezaei.com

Paola Perrin de Brichambaut MA

Paola holds a master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Her research examines the impact of urban policy on the human and cultural rights of minority groups. Furthermore, she is interested in the topics of citizenship, migrant and refugee rights, and cultural heritage. Before focusing on Social Anthropology, Paola completed a BA in History of Art at University College London (UCL) and wrote about the intersection of war, psychoanalysis and feminism. She enjoys reading novels and doing pottery in her free time.

Marie-Luise Arriens

Marie-Luise Arriens, born in Dresden, studied acting at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz/Austria after graduating from high school. In 2003 she came to Potsdam for her first engagement at the Hans-Otto-Theater. 2007-2009 followed an engagement at the Theater Bautzen. Since 2010 she has been working as a freelance actress, theater pedagogue and speaker.
Her artistic work focuses on solo productions. In preparation is a play for children from 5 years on. The theme is self-confidence and growth.
In her theater pedagogical work with children, young people and adults, she focuses on personality development, identity issues and body awareness. In 2019, Marie-Louise founded the senior theater group “Die Vielfältigen” in Potsdam, which she has been leading ever since. Together with Mirjam Neebe, she conducted workshops under the motto “Sag mir, wer du bist” (Tell me who you are) for refugee women.

Aryaan Bovenberg BA

Aryaan studies International Development, with a main focus on Politics and Communication in Development at Wageningen University and Research. During her studies she took part in the Food and Nutrition Security Excellence Program of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further, as a board member of the student group Amnesty International Wageningen she organized evenings and masterclasses on for example refugee rights. This leads to an interest in the deliberative projects of Social Science Works. Aryaan has been working as an intern at SSW from September till December 2020 and is still involved in many of our activities.

Dr. Asaf Leshem

Stavroula Kapsogeorgi

Stavroula studied Political Science at Aristotle University, in Greece. In the context of a Erasmus+ exchange she does an internship at SSW until June 2021. Her main interests have always revolved around Cultural Sociology, Social Movements, Political Communication, Social Policy, and Public Administration. She has volunteered in the Municipality of Thessaloniki in projects on Civil Rights and Social Action. In particular, she helped with creative play for refugee-children. Stavroula likes literature and music, and paints.

Yamen Fouda BA

Yamen is an architect and urban planner from Syria. He studied at Al-Wataniya University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. His professional motto is “unless you put a function to your creation – it’s not architecture, it’s just visual art”. Architects not only have to create objects of beauty, but also objects that are practical and functional. To realize this goal, inputs from the social sciences are essential, which also explains Yamens interest in a cooperation with Social Science Works. In the deliberative workshops of SSW in the refugee home in Wünsdorf Yamen was one of the most involved participants. Having experienced the consequences of a lack social deliberation in Syria, he would like to contribute to the spread of deliberation in more and more communities.

Anne Flake MA

Anne Flake is a recent Public Policy graduate of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Before joining the Hertie School of Governance, Anne majored in International Development (BA) at Leiden University College, and worked at local NGOs in Turkey, Myanmar and the Netherlands. Anne previously worked with GIZ for a multisector programme aimed at strengthening the resilience of refugees and host-communities in Syria’s neighbouring countries. For her master thesis, Anne conducted field research in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to study the concept of procedural legitimacy in the interaction between local (government) stakeholders and external aid actors.

Anne is specifically interested in challenges related to inclusive education, (forced) migration, governance in areas of limited statehood, human rights in authoritarian and conflict-affected contexts, and social policy. She believes that deliberation and participatory approaches to policy-making are valuable tools to building more inclusive societies – be they in Germany, the Netherlands or beyond.

Isabel Navarro BA

Phillip Reißenweber MA

Phillip Reißenweber is a political scientist and doctoral candidate at the University of Greifswald. During the course of his study his main area of interest comprised contemporary questions of political theory as well as questions of methodology and research designs. He is also a communications coach, trained in Nonviolent Communication based on the approach by Marshall B. Rosenberg. His experience with this approach towards intra- as well as interpersonal conflict resolution, with its emphasis on emotions and needs, led him to believe that emotional development is an important prerequisite for the accomplishment of democratic values like political equality and social justice. In his M.A. thesis he brought political science and Nonviolent Communication together by analysing the connections between cognitive-evaluative theories of emotions and the principles behind representative democracy. His PhD thesis partly continues this project by analysing the role of emotions in political deliberation and investigating possible designs for real-world deliberative settings. Settings which are capable to integrate even subtle aspects of
emotionality into public discourse. Besides all that Phillip is a passionate Balfolk dancer, he loves to read novels, cycling and he enjoys listening to music.

Jeanne Lenders MA

Jeanne graduated with distinction for her Master in European Studies at King’s College London, after spending the final semester at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She also holds a first-class Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture from the Radboud University Nijmegen. For her Master’s thesis, she conducted semi-structured interviews with young, male Afghan asylum seekers in Berlin, focussing on their displacement experience and views on German culture and gender relations. Previously, she has volunteered for the Boat Refugee Foundation in Lesvos, where she coordinated an Afghan women’s support group. Next to that, she contributed as a research assistant to a human-rights think tank in Malta and completed a training on refugee inclusion in Southern Italy. Her main research interests lie in social coherence, the power dynamics between majority and minority populations, and the gendered aspects of forced migration.

Akram Yacob MA

Akram Yacob graduated from the Hertie School of Governance with a Master in Public Policy. After spending 6 months at the United Nations Volunteers in Bonn, he wrote his thesis on the topic of improving social media stakeholder engagement using Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Prior to that, he graduated from the Singapore Management University with a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Sociology and Corporate Communication. Over the years, his research interests have gravitated towards technology, urbanization and development.

Born and raised in Singapore, he worked for several years in the government in Singapore. Additionally, he has been part of several start-ups from public-service platforms to decentralized AI platforms. He loves animals and has spent time volunteering with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore) and the Animal Care Center of NYC (ACC).

Jada Lindblom MA

Michael Häfelinger MA

Mafalda Sandrini MA

Mafalda is currently doing her PhD at the Free University in Berlin under the Organizational Communication Division of the Institute for Media and Communication Studies. While studying her master in Media and Communication Management at Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, Mafalda worked on the research project The Moving Networked, developed by the BoP – Board of Participation Association and the Allianz Kulturstiftung, aimed at creating intercultural bridges between the refugee and local community by implementing lectures and workshops in refugee camps and other facilities. In her dissertation Mafalda is deepening the approach by adopting a meso perspective in order to investigate how organizations are connected within the networked public sphere by adopting social network analysis. Particularly, she is interested in examining the relationships between governmental organizations, NGOs and organizations funded by refugees, in Berlin, in order to gather a holistic picture of relationships’ patterns and their structure.