AFP#13 | 2015 – 2016
Current place of employment:
James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)
Senior Non-Resident Research Scholar
Placement during fellowship:
Carnegie Moscow Center & Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Alfa Fellowship was a truly formative experience for me, greatly boosting my subsequent career trajectory as an analyst of Russian foreign policy (particularly in the Middle East and on arms control issues) in ways I could not have imagined when I started the program. The network I built during my year in Moscow – across the Moscow expert and think-tank community, but even into the Russian MFA – coupled with my enhanced Russian skills, enabled me to complete fieldwork for my PhD afterwards with great efficiency and ease. But more than that, the contacts I forged set me up well for my subsequent roles, in which I initially worked as a mediator in Track II diplomacy on the Middle East (always liaising with relevant Russian interlocutors), and now as a research scholar at a US think-tank (focusing on Russia-related matters). Of course, some of the experiences I had in 2015-6 – travelling to Dushanbe, or a research trip to Kazan which I organised for myself, to interview across the Muslim communities there – were not just formative from a career-perspective, but also just a lot of fun! And I made some of my best life-long friends on the program.
In today’s context, in which opportunities for seeking educational or professional development in Russia have become preciously scarce, I would wholeheartedly encourage others to apply for the fellowship, especially those who are confident that their careers will somehow relate to Russia or the post-Soviet space.