About Us


Patrick James, Director of the VIRP, is the Dana and David Dornsife Dean’s Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California (PhD, University of Maryland, College Park). James is the author or editor of over 30 books and more than 175 articles and book chapters. Among his honors and awards are the Louise Dyer Peace Fellowship from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Thomas Enders Professorship in Canadian Studies at the University of Calgary, Senior Scholar award from the Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC, Quincy Wright Scholar Award from the International Studies Association (ISA) (Midwest), Beijing Foreign Studies University Eminent Scholar, Eccles Professor of the British Library, Ole R. Holsti Distinguished Scholar of the ISA (West), Official Visitor at Nuffield College of Oxford University, the Governor-General’s International Award in Canadian Studies, and the Albert S. Raubenheimer Award for outstanding teaching, scholarship and service at USC. James has been Distinguished Scholar in Foreign Policy Analysis for the ISA, 2006-07, Distinguished Scholar in Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration for the ISA, 2009-10, and Distinguished Scholar in Active Learning and International Studies for the ISA, 2021-22.  James also has received the Deborah Gerner Innovative Teaching Award and the Susan S. Northcutt Award from the ISA for actively working towards recruiting and advancing women and other underrepresented scholars in the profession.  He served as President, 2007-09, of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, President of the International Council for Canadian Studies, 2011-13, President of the Peace Science Society, 2016-17, and President of the ISA, 2018-19. James is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Bibliographies in International Relations also served a five-year term as Editor of International Studies Quarterly.

Sarah Gansen, Associate Director of the VIRP, is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California and a Fulbright scholar. As a recipient of the Dean’s Academic Excellence Award, she also just completed a Master of Laws at USC’s Gould School of Law. In 2021, she served as the co-editor of a special issue of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal and co-authored multiple articles that appeared in the same journal as well as pieces that have been or will be published in International Studies Review and with Edgar Elgar Publishing and Nomos Publishing House. Having previously held positions with the German Department of State and the Austrian government as well as completed a judicial externship with the Los Angeles Superior Court, she recognizes the importance of an interdisciplinary approach in her research. Therefore, her dissertation broadly engages questions in international law, judicial decision-making, women’s rights, and diplomacy. She recently received the Ralph and Jean Hovel Travel Award to facilitate her carrying out dissertation research in Germany this summer.

Jean-Christophe Boucher is an Assistant Professor at the School of Public Policy and at the department of political science at the University of Calgary. His current work focuses on applied machine learning to understand how the digital world shapes our society. He is currently responsible projects funded by the Department of National Defence (DND) to study information operations; the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to understand civil-military relations in Canada; and holds grants from Alberta Innovates and the Vaccine Confidence Fund, and Merck to study vaccine hesitancy on social media to develop better communications strategies and tools to increase vaccine uptake. He holds a BA in History from the University of Ottawa, a MA in Philosophy from the Université de Montréal, and a PhD in Political Science from Université Laval. He specializes in international relations, with an emphasis on foreign policy, international security, and data analytics.

Marijke Breuning is a Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. She previously taught at Truman State University and at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She earned her PhD at the Ohio State University. She specializes in foreign policy analysis, with a specific interest in development cooperation and small states, as well as the politics of international children’s rights (and especially intercountry adoption), women/gender and politics, and the sociology of the profession. She has published numerous refereed journal articles and book chapters, as well as several books. Her most recent book is How to Get Published in the Best Political Science and International Relations Journals: Understanding the Publishing Game (with John Ishiyama).  She served as editor of the American Political Science Review (2012-2016).  Previously, she served as a member of the inaugural editorial team of Foreign Policy Analysis (2005-2009), co-editor of the Journal of Political Science Education (2005-2012), and book review editor of International Politics (2000-2003).  She serves – or has served – on several editorial boards and in various leadership positions in the International Studies Association and American Political Science Association. 

Sercan Canbolat (M.A. University of Connecticut and Bilkent University; B.A) is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in Political Science at the University of Connecticut. He received a Fulbright scholarship for his doctoral studies in the United States. Sercan is currently writing his doctoral dissertation on the patterns of organizational formation and leadership styles of militant organizations in the Middle East and North Africa. His scholarly works are featured and/or forthcoming in International Studies Review, Political Research Quarterly, Polity, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, and Cambridge University Press. He, and his co-authors, earned the “Polity Prize” in 2018, which is conferred on the best research article published in the journal’s previous volume. Sercan received the ISA—Midwest Region’s 2020 “Margaret G. Hermann Award” for a paper he presented in St. Louis in November 2019. The paper was entitled “Understanding Extreme Islamists in Their Native Language.” The award is given for the best use of text analysis in leadership studies. Sercan obtained the “Margaret G. Hermann Award” two years in a row in 2021 for his paper titled “Deciphering Political Islamists’ Rhetoric in Their Native Language: A Turkish Operational Code Analysis Approach.” Sercan has recently earned the “University Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award” from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Connecticut. 

Dr. Damon Coletta was inaugural Scowcroft Professor of Political Science, 2020-2021 at the United States Air Force Academy, and currently serves as associate director of the department’s Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies.  Damon edits the peer-reviewed e-journal, Space & Defense (2012-2021), and serves as social sciences liaison to USAFA’s nationally recognized Nuclear Minor program.  He completed a book on science & technology policy and international security, Courting Science: Securing the Foundation for a Second American Century (Stanford, 2016), and coedited NATO’s Return to Europe (Georgetown, 2017).  He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University, a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.  

Dr. Francisco Del Canto Viterale currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Space Studies in the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota. Also, he is the Director and Visiting Professor of the MA Program in Science, Technology and Global Affairs at the University of Salamanca (Spain). His core area of knowledge is Social Science, and his area of specialization is the intersection between Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) and International Relations (IR) with special emphasis on International Space Relations, Space Policy, Space Geopolitics and Space Diplomacy. Dr. Del Canto Viterale has been working in academia for over 20 years in several countries. He has extensive experience teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in a wide variety of topics within Social Science, International Relations, and Space Studies Dr. Del Canto Viterale has conducted research for over twenty years in topics related to International Scientific Relations, International Space Relations, Science and Space Diplomacy, and Systems Modeling. Because of his research work, Dr. Del Canto Viterale has published a book called “International Scientific Relations” where summarized 15 years of research work. Additionally, he has published several methodological and theoretical journal articles related to those issues. Dr. Del Canto Viterale received his Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of Deusto (Spain) in January 2014, and he was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Systems Institute at Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2014-2016). Prior to his doctorate, he earned a Bachelor of Science in International Relations (1998), a Post-Graduate in International Affairs and Diplomacy (1999) in Argentina, and a Master’s in International Migrations, Cooperation and Conflict (2011) in Spain.

Annette Freyberg-Inan is Professor of International Relations Theory and Dean of the Graduate School of Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. She researches and teaches in the fields of International Relations, International Political Economy, European Politics, Political Theory, and Social Science Methodology, with a focus on the nexus between international relations theory, political psychology, and epistemology; the normative failings of European Union enlargement and foreign policy; and struggles for social justice and self-determination, especially in European peripheries. Her most recent publications include “Critical Theories and Change in International Relations,” in: Oxford Handbook on Peaceful Change in International Relations, eds. T.V. Paul et al. (Oxford University Press, 2020); “The Dynamic Relation between Power Politics and Institutionalization: A Neo-Gramscian Intervention”, in: International Institutions and Power Politics: Bridging the Divide, ed. T.V. Paul and A. Wivel (Georgetown University Press, 2019); “Europe May Be Done With Power, But Power Is Not Done With Europe: Europe During American Unipolarity and Relative Decline,” with Paul van Hooft, in: Fear and Uncertainty: Realism and Foreign Policy in Europe, ed. V. Della Salla and R. Belloni (Palgrave, 2018); and “Rationality,” in: Concepts in World Politics, ed. F. Berenskötter (Sage, 2016). She has just concluded co-editorship of the European Journal of International Relations (2018-2021) and has previously edited the Journal of International Relations and Development (2012-2015) and the Romanian Journal of Society and Politics (2000-2003).

Nadejda K. Marinova is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Wayne State University. Dr. Marinova joined Wayne State University in 2012, after serving as a Dornsife College Postdoctoral Distinguished Teaching fellow at USC. She holds a Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations from USC, and an M.S. in International Affairs from Georgia Tech. Her research interests include diasporas and migration and Middle East politics. She has received Wayne State University’s President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and is the author of Ask What You Can Do for Your (New) Country: How Host States Use Diasporas (Oxford University Press, 2017). The book examines a previously unexamined phenomenon: how host states utilize diasporas to advance mutually beneficial foreign policy goals. The book advances a theoretical model to analyze when this phenomenon occurs, and it delves into the multiple avenues across which it takes place, in a variety of regimes, and across political, security, and commercial matters, proposing a classification with examples worldwide. She tests the theoretical model against multiple diasporas, including studies of the Lebanese diaspora in the US (regarding the 2005 Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon), the Iraqi and Cuban diasporas in the US, Iraqis in Iran (in the 1980s and 1990s) and Syro-Lebanese in 1970s Brazil. Her most recent research has focused on Arab-American and Muslim organizations in Metropolitan Detroit.

Undergrad Team:

Ashleigh Grindon is a current junior at the University of Southern California and is the Website Developer and Team Liaison for the Visual International Relations Project. At USC, Ashleigh is double majoring in International Relations (Global Bussiness) and Political Economy. Ashleigh has been working as a student researcher at the Keck School of Medicine since 2020 and is working with the Yassine Lab to publish a study on the effects of omega-3 on the brain in 2023. Ashleigh serves on the executive board of USC’s Academic Honors Fraternity Alpha Lambda Delta. Additionally, Ashleigh co-founded and now serves as President of Democracy Watch, a student-led organization that provides non-partisan campaign advice to political parties in Uganda and sheds light on human rights abuses within the country. In the next year, the organization aims to expand to work with other regions.

Yaoyu Tang is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California, where she is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Data Science. She is the recipient of a USC Dornsife Continuing Student Scholarship, and she has been placed on both Dornsife and Viterbi Dean’s Lists for multiple semesters. In the 2020 Senate election, Yaoyu interned with a democratic grassroots organization, Flip the West, conducting research and creating a database for 12 Senatorial candidates’ positions on over 20 different national and local issues. Interested in International Relations, Yaoyu joined the Near Crisis Project as a researcher, responsible for collecting data for potential near-crisis cases and analyzing military, economic, and diplomatic disputes. She also works as a research assistant in the Visual International Relations Project, coordinating with Professor James and Sarah Gansen, Associate Director of the VIRP, on web-related tasks on the newly launched VIRP archive. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, she intends to apply to law school to further her knowledge of international law and progress toward a legal career on the international stage.

Eileen Zong is a junior double majoring in international relations and East Asian Languages and Cultures at USC. She has a special interest in queer studies and its applications in both fields, and her first publication, Reaching Toward a Queer Futurity, is forthcoming in USC’s Student Journal of Asian Studies. 

Xingyu (Cindy) Chai is a junior double majoring in Communication and International Relations (Global Business) at the University of Southern California. Cindy is passionate about media operations, social marketing, public relations, and consulting. She has proficiency in social media, photo and video editing, digital communication, research, and data analysis skills. Cindy serves as President of USC.LIVE, a student-led media group that produces articles related to USC student life on WeChat public platform and hosts various student activities. She is also actively involved in organizations like the Chinese Elite Consortium, Marshall Entertainment Association, and China Entrepreneur Network. Cindy currently assists Professor James and Sarah Gansen in creating systemist diagrams for the VIRP archive.