Return to HDC Program

Sara Ahmed
“Breaking the Silence: Examining Mental Health Stigma, Literacy, and Access in Urban India”

Sara Ahmed is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, at Wake Forest University. She is majoring in Psychology and Counseling, and she is hoping to get a Masters degree in mental health counseling after her time at Wake Forest. Growing up, Sara became very familiar with the stigma and shame associated with accessing mental healthcare as a South Asian woman. She is passionate about ending this stigma through culturally responsive counseling for all. She is currently working on research looking at the intersection of Indian cinema, stigma of mental illness, and help-seeking behaviors of first-generation Indian-Americans. Sara is looking forward to the opportunity to present her work and passion for this important subject at the 2021 Human Development Conference!

Elsa Barron
“Fertile Ground: Sustainability Education as a Restorative Justice Practice”

Elsa Barron is a senior at the University of Notre Dame studying biology, peace studies, and sustainability. In 2019, Barron spent eight months in Jerusalem during which she researched the methodologies of grassroots organizations in environmental peacebuilding. Motivated by her research, Barron has since worked with the Institute for Climate and Peace, a community-based organization in Hawaii, the Environmental Peacebuilding Association, an academic collaborative in D.C., and the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, an advisory committee to the United Nations. Translating this experience to her own community in South Bend, Barron collaborated with student Karli Siefker to develop and implement an environmental justice curriculum for DePaul Academy, an organization that presents an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system. In addition, Barron is a research assistant at the Wilson Center Environmental Change and Security Program, a Climate Leadership Fellow, and a Rhodes Scholar finalist.

Emily Brigham
“Understanding the Cultural Implications of Discrepancy: Evaluating Parent and Teacher Reports of Child Adjustment in the Home and School”

Emily Brigham is a senior Psychology major with minors in Education, Schooling, and Society and Data Science. Impassioned by her work with vulnerable populations and access to quality education, she strongly believes that education is the most promising vehicle for promoting solutions to social inequity. Emily will pursue a Ph.D. in developmental psychology this fall, focusing her research on how school and home environments might harmonize to promote social and academic development of at-risk children. She is currently an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Mark Cummings’ Family Studies Lab. Beyond her commitment to research, Emily considers her volunteer work for The Center for the Homeless and the SBCSC Adult Education program to be her most valued experiences in her time at Notre Dame. In her free time, you might find Emily training for her next marathon or experimenting with vegan baking.

Gretchen Bruening
“Cultural Perceptions of Food Allergies in Africa”

Gretchen Bruening is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from Chesapeake, Virginia, she is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in French and a minor in International Development Studies. Through her past experience working for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Gretchen has seen firsthand the impact food insecurity can have on individuals and their families. Consequently, Gretchen’s primary research interests are food security and the intersection of culture and development. As an undergraduate research assistant at the Pulte Institute for Global Development, Gretchen has studied private sector engagement in development interventions, as well as the use of technology for monitoring and evaluation. Gretchen is pursuing a career in international development and hopes to continue her work in monitoring and evaluation while combining her passions for food security and the French language.

Alison Cummins
“Creative Writing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Nepal and United States Perspectives”

Alison Cummins (she/her) is a senior in her last semester at Muhlenberg College, studying sociology, English, and creative writing. Alison is currently working on an honors thesis in sociology about popular young adult series and fanfiction. Though she is passionate about sociology and research, Alison is also a creative writer who specializes in playwriting. You can read her work at

Katherine Fulcher
“‘A Tale of Twinned Cities’: A Comparative Analysis to Predict Potential Twinning on the US-Mexico Border”

Katherine Fulcher is a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she studies political science and Hispanic studies. On her campus, Katherine serves on the executive board of UTK's Model United Nations team and serves as the vice president of service of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. Katherine also works at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public policy on UTK's campus as a student assistant researching the emergence of rebel groups in Asia. She is also a research assistant for the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, researching the mitigation of bias in AI technologies. Katherine's academic interests lie in critical immigration and border studies. She has previously completed research abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico investigating perceptions of Central American migrants among university students.

Sarah Galbenski
"The Pinochet Case: A Catalyst of Transitional Justice Processes in Chile and Spain”

Sarah Galbenski is a senior studying Spanish, Global Affairs, and International Peace Studies. Over the course of her undergraduate career at ND, she has taught English in San José de Chimbo, Ecuador through the International Summer Service Learning Program, participated in intercultural exchange with Holy Cross parishes in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania with the Notre Dame Folk Choir, and studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. Through the Kellogg International Scholars Program, Sarah has served as a research assistant to Dr. Laura Miller-Graff and assisted with the adaptation of her Pregnant Moms’ Empowerment Program to the contexts of Lima, Peru and Monterrey, Mexico. For her honors thesis in Spanish, she is investigating the processes of transitional justice and the politics of memory in both Spain and Chile through a comparative lens. Sarah is currently serving as the Student Body Vice President. In her free time, she loves to practice yoga.

Bridget Hart
“Why Are Women Less Likely to Find a Job after Completing the Same Workforce Development Program as Men in Honduras?”

Bridget Hart is a senior majoring in Computer Science and minoring in International Development Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her capstone research focuses on the outcomes of a Honduran workforce development program based on gender. To complete this research remotely, she partnered with researchers at the Pulte Institute conducting a performance evaluation of a USAID funded workforce development project.

Kallin Hermann
“COVID Knowledge, Perceptions and Access to Care in Mexico”

Kallin Hermann is a senior majoring in Biology with a minor in International Development Studies. She is passionate about pursuing a career in Global Health and medicine. Through her studies, she has become invested in learning about how sustainable development progress can be made through collaboration across borders. As a member of the Timmy Global Health chapter at Notre Dame, Kallin had the opportunity to travel to Quito, Ecuador during fall break of sophomore year to participate in a medical brigade. This experience sparked her interest in seeking long-term solutions for local communities receiving foreign aid. Through her minor in International Development Studies, she has had the chance to broaden her knowledge of the cross-disciplinary and collaborative nature of global development. She hopes to use these experiences in the future to better serve others in need and continue to exchange ideas with people from different areas of the world.

Samuel Johnston
“Coordination or Clustering: Logistic Estimation of Aid Fragmentation in Uganda”

Sam Johnston is a senior Economics and Mathematics major at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. In Spring 2020, he completed a study abroad semester with School for International Training in Kampala, Uganda. He studied the dynamics of Uganda’s foreign aid landscape and how recent changes in aid composition affect the country’s development trajectory. He continued this research through a senior thesis project after returning to the U.S. After graduation, Sam plans to work in economic consulting and eventually pursue a Ph.D. in Economics. Sam spends his spare time hiking around Oregon and has a newfound hobby of baking bread.

Raimy Khalife-Hamdan
“Uneven Citizenship: Post-September 11th Immigration Enforcement and Separation of Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim Families”

Raimy Khalife-Hamdan is a third-year student at the University of Oregon, studying Romance Languages and Global Studies with a concentration on migration, asylum seekers, and refugees. She is interested in exploring the intersection of forced displacement, war, and ideological radicalization. Currently, she is researching interreligious reconciliation and coexistence in Mont Liban, Lebanon.


Margaret Kenney
Margaret Kenney is a senior at Saint Louis University studying Political Science and International Studies. Originally from Minnesota, Margaret has placed a focus on developing her qualitative research skills in Political Science while also taking numerous math classes to supplement her research. After graduating in May 2021, Margaret hopes to attend a Ph.D. program in Political Science with an emphasis on International Security Studies.

Kelly Koehnen
“A Colonial Diet: Approaching Human Dignity Through Dietary Policy”

Kelly Koehnen is a senior varsity track and cross country athlete from a fourth generation beekeeping family in Northern California, majoring in American Studies and Spanish as well as minoring in International Development Studies and Studio Art.  Her research on how the political relationship between the mainland United States and Puerto Rico affects local nutrition and human dignity has led her to pursue a career in legislative protection that she will begin at the UCLA School of Law next fall. Her work explores the process of collecting research with humility and an open heart despite the various limitations to developing personal relationships within the COVID digital age.

Daniel Krugman
“Survival as Solidarity: Refugee Exchange, Humanitarian Violence, and Social Cohesion in Mirieyi Settlement, Northern Uganda”

Daniel Krugman is a senior at Middlebury College who will graduate this spring with a major in Anthropology and a minor in African Studies. A former student at the School for International Training, Uganda, and research intern at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, his research interests span across public health, medical anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. His forthcoming honors thesis, the inspiration for his Human Development Conference presentation, examines community formation, exchange networks, and structural violence among South Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda. After graduation, Daniel plans to continue on to a Ph.D. program in Sociocultural Anthropology to further study migration, unsettle the abuse of international systems, and advocate for more just refugee management.

Jaran Max Rudd
“How Covid-19 has Deepened the Environmental Crisis Among the Kichwa: A Discourse Analysis”

Jaran is a senior with an Anthropology and Spanish double major at Austin College in Sherman, TX. He’s been afforded the opportunity to study abroad to conduct Anthropological fieldwork and research in both Mexico through the Autonomous University of Queretaro and in Ecuador through the School for International Training. Throughout his studies as an undergraduate, the complexity of the processes with which international and globalizing forces affect local realities, and the ways in which people think and act in response to these forces, has been a point of fascination worth uncovering in greater detail. It’s his hope that his research can bring light to marginalized worldviews, realities, and logic and that this will help us to reimagine our international and local politics.

Ethan Sager
“Paternalism and Dead Aid”

Ethan is a Senior from Star, ID studying International Development and Political Science at Seattle Pacific University. He is especially interested in studying the intersection of aid disbursements and development goals. As a junior, Ethan helped co-found a social venture, Thera, that works to retrofit old mopeds into fully electric vehicles. He received a praxis fellowship to further work on this venture. He aims to start a career in international political economy research after graduating. Advocating for greater involvement of RCTs in development initiatives and stark conversations about political will and incentive structures. Ethan is looking forward to being able to take part in the conference and meet with all of you!

Caitlin Scott (2021 Bartell Prize recipient)
“Reinforcing Push Factors in the Northern Triangle: An Investigation of Trump’s Attempts to Deter Immigration through Humanitarian Aid Reduction”

Caitlin Scott is a student at the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College. She is majoring in Global Studies and Spanish as well as minoring in Nonprofit Management and Global Service. She is also obtaining a certificate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. Caitlin enjoys going on walks, drinking expensive coffee, and listening to new music. During her undergraduate career, she has had opportunities to work as a Resident Assistant with UO Housing, take on leadership roles in her sorority Sigma Kappa, and participate in the summer 2019 Oxford Consortium for Human Rights about human movement and migration. This last experience directly influenced her honors thesis and subsequent HDC presentation. She is eager to share her findings and passion regarding this particular global challenge.

Tatiana Silva (2021 Bartell Prize recipient)
“Analyzing the Effects of Law on Obstetric Care in Argentina”

Tatiana is a senior at Notre Dame from Fort Lauderdale, Florida studying Science-Business with a minor in International Development Studies. She first became interested in global health and development work through her experiences in Honduras, where her mother’s family is from. In the summer of 2019, she traveled to La Merced, Peru to work with the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) on health education campaigns, while also conducting research on pre/postnatal care in a predominantly rural community. For her IDS capstone project in 2020, Tatiana surveyed over 200 women from Argentina on the implications of a law protecting them from obstetric violence. She serves as the co-president of the American Medical Women’s Association on campus, and has also volunteered at St. Joseph’s Family Medicine Center since her freshman year. In the future, Tatiana hopes to attend medical school and combine her passions for maternal health and international development in her career.

Noah Stanton
“Mother Nature Meets Modern Woman: An Exploration of Environment, Gender, and Urbanism Among Delhi's Middle Class”

Noah Stanton studies History, Anthropology, and Public Health at Vanderbilt University, and she is passionate about global health and development. As an undergraduate, she conducts population health research with the Vanderbilt LGBT Health Policy Lab, volunteers as an Emergency Medical Responder, and serves as an outdoor recreation instructor and Jewish community leader. In Spring 2020, she studied abroad with the School for International Training in New Delhi, India, where she undertook an independent research project on the relationship between women’s health and the environment in urban settings. She is currently working on a senior honors thesis paper that analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on domestic violence resources in the U.S. In her future career, she aims to alleviate socially-determined health inequalities through international policy and development initiatives, and she is excited to participate in the 2021 Human Development Conference.

Liz Williams
“Thiéboudienne: A Look into the Intersection of Cuisine and Community in Senegal”

Liz Williams is a junior at the University of Tulsa majoring in Political Science and Sociology. Her research examines the intersection of cuisine and community in Senegal. Last spring, she studied abroad in Senegal until the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely ended her trip. She continued to engage with Senegalese culture and community by utilizing online resources and creative methods to proceed with her research safely from home. In addition to her research, she is the President of the Student Alliance for Violence Education, an organization striving to eliminate interpersonal violence on college campuses. Events she has helped coordinate in the past have included themes surrounding disability awareness, trauma, and queer sex education. She plans to continue her education at the University of Tulsa and will graduate in the spring of 2022.

Grace Zhang
“Expanding Surgical Care in Fiji: Developing a National Surgical Obstetric and Anesthesia Plan (NSOAP)”

Grace Zhang is a senior Biological Sciences major and International Development Studies minor at the University of Notre Dame. After graduating, she is interested in pursuing a career in medicine and global health. After completing a medical service mission in Nicaragua and meeting a Nigerian Mandela Washington Fellow-physician in 2019, she became interested in global health policy and international development. She is fascinated by the complexity of challenges that global health presents and hopes to improve access to and quality of healthcare in underserved areas. During Fall 2019, she began working with the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) of Harvard Medical School to advocate for universal access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care and continues to do so in the present.