2020-2021 Intern Biographies


Allegra Wirmer, Research Assistant

Allegra is a first-year master student in International Relations at Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, where she focuses on international affairs, security studies and the Middle East. She previously graduated cum laude with an LLB in European Law from Maastricht University (NL), minoring in Globalization and Development. Alongside her studies, she has engaged in human rights activism and advocacy, and has participated in various initiatives focused on female empowerment and gender equality. 

Within the CCSDD, Allegra hopes to further improve her research skills and acquire knowledge on the topics of public law and democratization. Drawing from her academic background in law and the social sciences as well as her experience as an activist, she aims to approach issues with an eye to the nuances of gender and the intersectional inequalities which determine our status in society. When not working or studying, she likes to spend time exploring Bologna by bike and catching up on her ever-growing watchlist of classic movies.

Aspen Brooks, Research Assistant

Aspen is a first-year MAIA student (change in process from MA) at Johns Hopkins SAIS from Seattle, Washington. She will be assisting in research on Central Asia and writing for the CCSDD blog. 

Aspen graduated from Linfield College in 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in international relations and Spanish, having studied abroad in Spain for a semester each in Sevilla and Alicante. Her experience as a research assistant with the Political Science department sparked her interest in comparative politics, democratic transitions, and the role of memory in politics. After graduating, she completed a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, teaching classes and developing resources for current and future grantees to introduce creative teaching methods. Aspen is looking forward to learning more about comparative constitutional studies and how a constitutional lens can inform analyses of democratic stability (or the lack thereof)—and putting her burgeoning Italian to use discovering what trattoria serves the best cotoletta alla Bolognese!

Nick Carpenter, Research Assistant

Nick is a Strategic Studies concentrator at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His studies primarily focus on global security challenges and how to address them. Nick is currently pursuing his degree from SAIS’s Europe campus. Prior to SAIS, Nick spent much of his early career working for local government and for non-profits. Before working, Nick earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Affairs  from Marquette University.

Toph Cottle, Research Assistant

Toph is a first-year MAIA student at Johns Hopkins SAIS with interests in Central Banking and Monetary Policy. Toph is from Logan, Utah, a small town where he loves to hike, camp,  fish, and play with his dog Cody.

Toph graduated from Utah State University in 2020 with a major in Economics as well as minors in French and Criminal Justice. From 2015-2017, Toph served on a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Madagascar. He then returned to Madagascar in 2020 as an intern for Maak Impact Fund, and completed another internship in Tarawa, Kiribati.  Toph hopes to understand the impact of financial inclusion on democratic development and create monetary policy that can help stabilize economies.

Noah Feiwell, Research Assistant

Noah is a first-year MA student at Johns Hopkins SAIS concentrating on general theories of international relations and economics. Hailing from Santa Rosa, California, Noah has joined the CCSDD team as a linguistic and editorial advisor, as well as a general resource for the other interns and staff. 

Noah graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018 with a double-major in Political Science and English, as well as a minor in History. His internships in the Dail Eireann in 2016 and Punctum Books in 2018 allowed him to experience both the vicissitudes of European parliamentary politics and the rigors of academic editorial work; after graduation, Noah led a team of AmeriCorps volunteers through a year of service with federal and local emergency response activities across the United States. Noah hopes to learn more about the growing intersections between national constitutions and international governance – or, failing that, to learn which restaurant has the best pizza margherita.

Bianca Getzel, Research Assistant

Bianca is a first-year MA student at Johns Hopkins SAIS concentrating in international political economy and trade-labour market policy. Originally from Padova, Italy, Bianca spent over 8 years living between the US and the UK before her SAIS education finally brought her back to Italy. She joins CCSDD as a Research Intern.

Bianca graduated magna cum laude from the University of Manchester, UK in June 2020, reading Politics and International Relations. While at Manchester, Bianca conducted her dissertation of EU-Algeria trade relations, conducting field work as to their impact on Algeria’s informal labor force. Her past work at the United Nations HQ in New York alongside the UN Office for South South Cooperation, as well as her experience at the UK Foreign Office’s Department for International Trade, have led Bianca to focus on the developmental potential of international trade policies. Recent work for the US Agency for International Development and the Institute for Public Policy Research Bianca has provided Bianca international experience on comparative policy research. 

Bianca is also the Editor in Chief of the SAIS Europe Journal for Global Affairs. During her time at Johns Hopkins, she hopes to continue studying the trade-labour linkage and the development of legal provisions surrounding the digital labour force. Beyond studying the exportability of EU trade law, Bianca spends her free time perfecting family recipes.

Alexis Keys, Research Assistant

Alexis Keys is a 29 year-old former Director of Development, Education & Community Relations at an Orlando, FL arts nonprofit. She graduated from Emory University, where she majored in International Relations with a focus on International Development in Africa and the Middle East. She is a research assistant at the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD), as well as a member of Global Women in Leadership, VP and founding member of the SAIS Europe Student Diversity Council, and President of SAIS Pride.

As an MAIA candidate at SAIS Europe, Alexis plans to study diplomacy, policy analysis and the conditions serving the proliferation of peace and self-determination in Africa and the Middle East.

Amber Malone, Research Assistant

Amber is a second-year MAIA student at Johns Hopkins SAIS writing her thesis on the risks of biometrics when incorporated into migration management. Originally from Mississippi, Amber joined the CCSDD as a research intern.

Amber graduated from the Croft Institute at the University of Mississippi in 2016 with a double major in French and International Studies. After her undergraduate studies, Amber joined the University of California, Irvine as a 2018 summer research fellow and conducted a study on public housing in Italy and France. Her time as a Public Policy and Communications Intern with the ACLU and as an Education Policy Intern with Mississippi First in 2018 and 2019 gave her the opportunity to experience every stage of policy development from advocacy campaigns to drafting proposals. In addition to learning how to best advocate for rights protection in migration governance in the EU, Amber spends her time in Bologna making fluid art with acrylics.

Lorenzo Marchetti, Research Assistant & Communications Manager

Lorenzo is a second-year MAIA student at Johns Hopkins SAIS concentrating on European and Middle Eastern affairs. Lorenzo comes from Imola, Italy, in the province of Bologna, and has joined the CCSDD team as communications manager and personal research assistant to the director. 

Lorenzo graduated Summa Cum Laude from the George Washington University in 2019 with a major in International Affairs, as well as a double minor in Political Science and History. In 2016, he founded the Italian non-profit organization A Year Without War Italia. He was also a Trade and Agriculture Trainee at the European Union Delegation in Washington DC in 2018, where he mainly focused on trade relations between the EU and the individual US states. Also, he furthered his knowledge of finance by working as a research analyst at the Osservatorio Private Equity e Finanza per la Crescita at SDA Bocconi School of Managment in 2019. Lorenzo is currently serving as the President of SAIS Europe Student Government Association and aims at broadening his knowledge about democracy promotion through constitution-making. In his free time you can find Lorenzo looking for new restaurants to try in Emilia-Romagna.

Matthew Nyanplu, Research Assistant

Matthew Nyanplu is an MA Student in International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS Europe. He previously studied at IE University in Madrid, Spain, 2019-2020, for a MSc in International Development. He also studied law for one academic year towards the Bachelor of Laws (LL. B) Degree (2018-2019) at the University of Liberia, where he earned his BA Degree in Sociology (December 2017).

Matthew thanks everyone who finds, in him, a partner for the transformation of societies like his own that are challenged. He is a motivated humanist who has the urge to create a world void of deprivation. It may not be easy, but Matthew believes it is certainly possible!

Sarah Rahman, Research Assistant

Sarah is currently a Master of Arts in European Public Policy candidate at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Prior to JHU, Sarah completed her Bachelors and Masters in Sociology, focusing on Economical and Political Sociology. She worked in the field as a Field Researcher in a think tank based in India for complex minority communities, and was responsible for collecting sensitive data focused on the significance of migration policies. Additionally, she has experience working as an Intern for UNDP-India,  where she worked on capacity building for the MSME societies in North-East of India. She has also worked in a private consulting firm based on energy and sustainability, and for the State Government on  gender rights and inequality. During her leisure time, she loves travelling and cooking international cuisines.

Sofia Ruiz, Research Assistant

Sofia is a first-year MA student at SAIS concentrating in Conflict Management. Within the CCSDD, Sofia focuses on researching Central Asia. 

Sofia began pursuing her undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 2017, and has matriculated directly to SAIS as part of the joint BA/MA program. Sofia will receive her BA in International Studies and Political Science. Her internship at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018 and the International Rescue Committee in 2019 allowed her to explore various facets of what it means to work in international affairs. Sofia is particularly interested in democratic development in post-Soviet states and looks forward to researching the often less-studied cases of Central Asia. Pandemic permitting, she is also excited to explore the museums and history Bologna has to offer.

Jared Umberger, Research Assistant

Jared is a first year MA student at Johns Hopkins SAIS concentrating on conflict management and economics. He grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and he is joining the CCSDD team as a research assistant in the Spring of 2021. 

Jared graduated from The King’s College, New York City in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and a minor in Business Administration. His time after graduation was a period of tumultuous changes and peculiarities. His time abroad in Morocco and Dubai helped direct his passion and interest in the MENA region, and his time working in cafes back in his hometown grew his appreciation for a good cup of coffee. Jared is hoping to dive into constitutional development and the trajectory of democratic transitions in North Africa, but also open to lazily sipping on an Aperol spritz as long as it comes with chips.

Abigail Vacheron, Research Assistant

Abigail is a first-year MAIA student at Johns Hopkins SAIS with a focus on Middle East studies and international law. Originally from Connecticut, USA, Abigail had been living in the UK for the seven years before her relocation to Bologna. Abigail has joined the CCSDD team as an assistant to Professor Frosini. 

Abigail graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2018 with joint honours in Philosophy and Politics. She most recently worked in digital health research at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, where she also assisted in digital transformation as a Teaching Fellow at the NHS Digital Academy. Abigail’s involvement with the CCSDD continues an interest in legal frameworks and politics, stemming from her undergraduate coursework in international legal theory and her thesis on U.S. constitutional jurisprudence. 

Brenden Verloop, Research Assistant

Brenden is a first-year MA International Affairs student at SAIS pursuing studies in International Development and Conflict Management. A native to Southern California, Brenden graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a degree in Business Administration, Management, and Organizational Behaviors, and Business Law. He is joining the CCSDD team as a Researcher, Blog Contributor, European Union Legal Reform Summer School Assistant, and the Sarajevo Logistics Coordinator. 

Prior to studying at SAIS, Brenden served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Albania, where he worked with local government entities in rural, tourism, and youth development capacities. Additionally, he also facilitated trainings for Albanian teachers on recognizing signs of trauma in school children after an earthquake. These experiences act as the foundation for his continuing research: investigating behavioral manifestations of trauma in economic participation. In his ever-fleeting free time, Brenden can be found sampling the various shawarma stands of Bologna.

Carlee Wright, Research Assistant

Carlee Wright, from Norman, Oklahoma, is a first-year MAIA student working as a Research Assistant at the CCSDD. Carlee graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in International Studies and Italian before moving to South Korea to work full-time with North Korean refugees. 

At the CCSDD, Carlee is combining her work with her previous experience in the field. Currently, she is creating an exhaustive list of the South Korean Supreme Court’s judgements referencing its constitutional preamble, while quantifying how many times the ruling referenced it and analyzing how exactly the judgement used it. When not working or studying, she is likely updating her list of best gelaterias in Bologna.