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GRI Newsletter August 2022

Dear friends of GRI,I love this time of year. New students are embracing classic William & Mary traditions and welcome events. Though the Institute will also host our usual gatherings — mark your calendars for an Open House on September 20 and a Homecoming BBQ on October 8! — it’s a real season of firsts.Last week, we welcomed many new faces to the GRI community, including five Post-Doctoral Fellows, who will advance multidisciplinary research on development economics, political psychology, diplomatic history, U.S. foreign policy, peacebuilding, and more. Over the next two years, they’ll also teach W&M undergrads in the classroom and mentor them in GRI research labs. When we piloted this program three years ago with Dr. Kelebogile Zvobgo, I could never have imagined we would scale it to this extent so soon, with five Post-Docs in-residence from diverse academic and international backgrounds. Dr. Zvobgo now directs GRI’s International Justice Lab, and in one of the tiles below, you’ll see that she recently wrote a textbook chapter about the best practices for launching and managing research labs. Full circle moment. In programs like the Post-Doctoral Fellowship, GRI prioritizes mentorship — not only for our five new colleagues, but for the students they’ll train and collaborate with. I hope this approach will inspire more inquiries, partnerships, and cutting-edge research for years to come. In our #HumansofGRI series, AidData student researcher Jiaya Echevarria said it best: “The younger you are, the more you want to see the world change, and knowing that you can use a research lab to help change the world is really important.”Thanks for helping us make that goal possible. Hope to see you this fall!Best,Mike


GRI Affiliates Troy Wiipongwii and Zach Conrad

Over the next three years, GRI Research Affiliates Troy Wiipongwii and Zach Conrad will develop computational tools that empower Indigenous communities in Virginia to make independent decisions about food production on their lands.

GRI Affiliate Sharan Grewal

GRI Affiliate Sharan Grewal and Summer Fellows Ian DeHaven and Salah-Dean Satouri spent the summer in Tunisia, where they interviewed representatives from the major opposition parties ahead of July's constitutional referendum.

Ignite and AidData

Foreign aid is not efficiently targeted within countries by economic and health needs, even in the face of budget shocks, AidData's Chief Economist Ariel BenYishay, Ignite Director Carrie Dolan, and co-author Matthew DiLorenzo conclude.


China's Belt and Road Initiative has shifted from funding infrastructure to providing emergency relief during crises, as AidData's Executive Director Brad Parks explains in a new Bloomberg article.

American Bosnian Collaboration Project

The ABC Project returned to Sarajevo this summer, where students co-taught 60 Bosnian youth and conducted research. The lab's forthcoming whitepaper will evaluate the effectiveness of experiential and outdoor learning in promoting intercultural competence.


Hungarian, Polish, and Russian speakers on Facebook demonstrate unique vulnerability to disinformation on certain topics, according to a new DisinfoLab study. The Directors share key findings and policy suggestions in an article for the Diplomatic Courier.

GRI Affiliate Sharan Grewal

Muslim clerics who get too political undermine their religious reputations, even among those who agree with their politics, GRI Affiliate Sharan Grewal and co-authors find. This research advances understandings of how politicized religious leaders may negatively influence their religions.



Ignite's Julius Nyerere Odhiambo and Carrie Dolan assess the methodological aspects of spatial approaches applied to COVID-19 in Africa. Their work looks to enhance the framework of infectious disease modeling — an essential step in informing modeling decisions for future pandemics in Africa.

International Justice Lab

In the Handbook of Research Methods in International Relations, International Justice Lab Founder and Director Dr. Kelebogile Zvobgo shares expertise and insights about launching and sustaining fruitful research labs — from organizing research and recruiting students to advancing DEI (pages 717-735).

GRI Affiliate Steve Hanson

Ahead of November's midterm elections, Russia will take steps to sow discord among Americans and encourage Biden to reconsider US involvement in the war in Ukraine, GRI Affiliate Steve Hanson outlines in Newsweek.

GRI Director Mike Tierney

In a Q&A, GRI Director Mike Tierney talks with the Reves Center's Teresa Longo about his initial foray into undergraduate research, the impetus that added to his academic journey, his vision for the Institute, and the advice he offers students.

Blockchain Lab

From enforcing trade policies to promoting global cooperation to simplifying sanction verification, blockchain can promote trust and security among global parties, GRI Affiliate Yu Amy Xia and Nitya Labh '22 explain in Inkstick Media.