Staff Bios


Anna Boots is a second year Master’s student at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Her interests lie in North African history and politics, as well as the intersection of art, politics, and gender in the Middle East and North Africa. She is one of three Editors in Chief of the JMEPP for 2017-2018, after serving on the editorial board in 2016-2017. Before coming to Harvard, Anna was  a Fulbright Student Researcher in Morocco in 2014-2015, where she researched art, artisanship, cultural production and gender through the lens of women’s carpet weaving cooperatives in the Middle Atlas Mountains. She has also spent time in Tunisia through the Center for Middle Eastern Studies Tunis Office. Anna graduated from the University of Chicago in 2013 with a degree in History and Law, Letters, and Society. She speaks Arabic and French.

Blaire Byg is a graduate student at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, where her research interests center on environmental history and social movements in the MENA region. She is one of three Editors in Chief of the JMEPP for 2017-2018, after serving on the editorial board in 2016-2017. She has studied Arabic and spent time in Jordan, Palestine, and Tunisia, and has worked for several non-profit organizations working on refugee integration, public health, and women’s rights. She wrote her undergraduate thesis at the University of Chicago on investing in sustainable local enterprise networks in the Palestinian agricultural sector as a new model for Palestinian aid.

Mohamad Saleh is a second year graduate student at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies concentrating on post-1948 Arabic literature. He is a Teaching Fellow at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, through which he instructs Intermediate Arabic I. He is also a Country Expert specializing in Syrian political affairs for The Global Leadership Project through The University of Houston. Over the last year he was an Associate Editor at The Journal for Middle Eastern Politics and Policy, and wrote book reviews for The Culture Trip. He received a BS in Physics from NYU, having also doubled majored in Philosophy and Middle Eastern Studies.

JMEPP Editors and Staff Writers

Safwan Al-Amin

Regional Editor for Iraq

Safwan is a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration candidate (Mason Fellow) and an Emirates fellow at the Center of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Safwan is from Baghdad, Iraq. He is an attorney who is qualified in Iraq, Dubai and New York State and has worked at international law firms for the last seven years  while also being a legal and political advisor to Ayad Allawi, Chairman of the Iraqi National Accord and Vice President of Iraq. Before that, he worked on the election campaign of the Iraqiya Coalition which won the Iraqi elections in 2010. He was the youngest candidate for Parliament in the 2014 elections in Iraq. Safwan holds an LLB in Law (with honors) from SOAS, University of London and has completed a program in public policy and leadership at the American University of Sharjah.

Leen Al-Hajjar

Topical Co-Editor for Migration & Refugees

Leen holds a Dual B.A. degree in International Affairs and Economics with a minor in Global Social Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University in Boston. Leen developed her areas of focus on refugee livelihoods, social innovation, and women empowerment through her coursework and work assignments at a think tank in Istanbul and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan. During her internship with the UNHCR, Leen conducted field research for her Honors thesis on “Addressing the Barriers to the Formal Employment of Refugees through Innovative Approaches” and presented her findings at Northeastern, Harvard, and Boston University. Leen has been determined to bring the voices of Syrian refugees back with her to the U.S. which led her to found the Refugee Empowerment and Awareness Campus Task Force (REACT) to engage university communities in refugee response in Boston and abroad.

Tim Bauler

Topical Editor for Security & Military Operations

Tim is a first year master’s student at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He graduated from the The Citadel in 2007, where he studied history, and was commissioned an officer in the Army. His most recent assignment as a regional specialist focused on the Middle East and North Africa has taken him from the Gulf to Morocco and most points of interest between. He is focused on US defense policy and partnerships in the region, and cooperation with diplomatic, economic, and development experts. Tim is researching the history of Arab nationalism, military identity, and political history, as well as modern Arabic war literature.

James Chater

Staff Writer

James is the Michael von Clemm Fellow at Harvard University this academic year. He graduated from Oxford University earlier this year, where he edited The Oxford Student newspaper and has also had work published by the UK’s New Statesman magazine. At Harvard, he is focusing on international relations and geopolitics with a particular emphasis on the MENA region’s relation with international political and economic organisations, as well as studying Arabic.

Tim Doner

Regional Co-Editor for Iran

Tim is a senior at Harvard concentrating in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He works as a freelance translator in Arabic and Persian and is currently a speechwriter for a firm with a growing Middle East clientele. Tim has previously worked as a Middle East analyst at a business intelligence company and a hedge fund, and is writing his senior thesis on fascist parties from 1950s Iran.

Mariam Ghanem

Staff Writer

Mariam is a first year graduate student at the Center for Middle East Studies where she focuses on economic development and political activism in North Africa. Prior to CMES, Mariam worked as a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. There, she researched political activism and economic development in Egypt, the relationship between state institutions and religious institutions, Iranian political culture, and gender and sexuality in Islam. She holds a B.S. in Economics and a B.A. in Global Affairs from George Mason University.

Satgin Hamrah

Regional Co-Editor for Iran

Satgin is a PhD student in History at Tufts University. She has a Master of International Relations degree from Boston University and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California. Satgin is also a Doctoral Fellow at the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, a Fellow at the South Asia Democratic Forum and a Graduate Assistant for the Tufts Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies.

Mariya Ilyas

Regional Editor for Turkey

Mariya is a master’s student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University focusing on international security, global maritime affairs, and finance and banking. Upon graduation, Mariya will join the U.S. Foreign Service as part of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. Prior to Fletcher, she worked in the public and private sectors: taught journalism in Pakistan (Davis Projects for Peace Fellow); taught English in Turkey (Fulbright Scholarship); served at The White House and the U.S. Department of State; and worked for a fortune-100 company in Boston as a business analyst. Mariya graduated from Bowdoin College in 2013 with degrees in Mathematics, Sociology and Government. She was born in Pakistan and grew up in Alexandria, VA.

Niku Jafarnia

Topical Co-Editor for Migration & Refugees

Niku is a second year student at Harvard Law School. Originally from the Bay Area, she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014, with a bachelor’s in Political Science (focused on Middle Eastern comparative politics) and a minor in City & Regional Planning, and went on to spend two years living in Turkey as a Fulbright grantee.  She spent her last summer interning at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ankara, Turkey and volunteering as a caseworker for refugees with HIAS in Lesvos, Greece. She plans to continue working on refugee issues in the Middle East after graduating.

Nicholas Norberg

Staff Writer

Nicholas is a Master’s student at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2016 with a degree in Linguistics, and has studied Arabic in Amman, Jordan and Turkish in Istanbul, Turkey. After graduating, he worked as a News and Public Sector Domain Expert at Dataminr, primarily covering the MENA region, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. At Harvard, his studies focus on modern Middle Eastern history and contemporary politics.

Farah Mallah

Regional Editor for The Levant

Farah is currently a masters candidate at Harvard Graduate school of education, majoring in International Education Policy. Previously, she graduated from Georgetown’s branch campus in Qatar majoring in International Economics and during her time there led an organization that teaches English, computer and financial literacy to low-income migrant workers. After graduating she worked in Teach for Qatar as a math fellow, teaching middle school math at a public school in Qatar. She also piloted a program that increases student motivation to learn by encouraging them to dream big. During this time she continued to involve herself in research and writing in the fields of economics and education.

Andrew McIndoe

Regional Editor for Palestine/Israel

Andrew is a Masters student in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. Originally from New Zealand, he has worked as a research assistant at the Waitangi Tribunal, a New Zealand judicial body dealing with indigenous peoples’ land claims and, more recently,  has worked within the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration section of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations. In his studies, he focuses on issues of land, law and security, particularly in Israel-Palestine and the Levant, as well as studying the Arabic language.

Elissa Miller

Regional Editor for Egypt

Elissa is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she is studying international security studies and international political economy. She is also a Nonresident Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington, DC-based think tank. Prior to Fletcher, Elissa was an Assistant Director at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, where she focused on North Africa research and programming and published extensively on political and security developments in the region. Elissa received her undergraduate degree in International Relations from Tufts University.

Lydia Tahraoui

Regional Editor for The Maghreb & Libya

Lydia is a junior at Harvard College concentrating in Social Studies, with a focus field in Development in the Middle East and North Africa. Her research interests include identity politics, institution building, and comparative economic development in the MENA region. She has worked in the public sector and with several NGOs, with recent experience focusing on refugee rights and advocacy. An Algerian-American, Lydia is fluent in the Maghrebi dialect of Arabic and is pursuing a language citation in Modern Standardized Arabic at Harvard.

Theo Wye

Regional Editor for The Arabian Peninsula

Theo is a second year Master’s student at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard. He holds a degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Oxford. He speaks Arabic and specializes on the Modern History of the Middle East, with a particular focus on Syria and Iraq. He seeks to apply his intimate knowledge of Middle Eastern History to a contemporary setting, to show how historical mistakes can be avoided in the future. Theo has also worked as a Research Assistant to Charles Lister at the Middle East Institute in Washington where he monitored Jihadist groups in Syria through a range of social media sources such as twitter and telegram. He is currently writing his Master’s Thesis on the symbolism of prisons in Syrian and Iraqi Jihadist propaganda.

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