Matt Kupfer '12 named Carnegie junior fellow

Alumnus rejoices in award, encourages others to study abroad

Matt Kupfer '12, traveling this past winter in Russia.

Matthew Kupfer, who has been studying advanced Russian in St. Petersburg since graduating Brandeis Phi Beta Kappa last year, has been named a junior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

A double major in international and global studies and anthropology with a minor in Russian studies, Kupfer has long been deeply interested in Russia and Central Asia. He wrote his honors thesis on “Interethnic Conflict in Southern Kyrgyzstan” after witnessing the conflict in Osh firsthand while living with an Uzbek family during a summer internship.

The Carnegie fellowship “is a great thing – I get paid to do what I really enjoy doing,” Kupfer said in a recent telephone conversation from St. Petersburg, where he said he is “living with a Russian family, blogging and doing a little bit of journalism under the table.”

He reports and writes for, which will soon publish an article he has written on the Jews of Kyrgyzstan, and blogs at on Central Asian politics, culture and development.  

Kupfer said he hopes the Carnegie fellowship, during which he will research critical issues in world and regional politics “will give me a greater sense of what I want to accomplish in this field and what I might do next.” But he is in no hurry, as he notes that “Russia has an enormous presence in Central Asia and Central Asia is a major topic in Russia. I don’t have to decide yet.”

Kupfer stressed the benefits of studying overseas as an undergraduate, “especially if you do it with the intent of really learning about a country or learning a language. It really helps you get a new perspective.”

He also encouraged others to enter his specific area of interest. “There are a lot of very important issues in Russia and post-Soviet Central Asia in general that are sometimes overlooked,” he said. “It’s not too trendy right now.”

Since graduation, Kupfer has been studying in the Overseas Flagship Program in St. Petersburg, a prestigious Russian language program administered by the American Councils of Teachers of Russian for students who aspire to professional fluency.  The program concludes May 17, after which he plans to travel to Kazakhstan, visit his family in Phoenix and look for a place to live in Washington.  

As a junior fellow, Kupfer will provide research assistance to associates of the Carnegie Endowment’s Russian/Eurasian projects. In the past, junior fellows have had the opportunity to conduct research for books, co-author journal articles and policy papers, participate in meetings with high-level officials, contribute to congressional testimony and organize briefings attended by scholars, activists, journalists and government officials.

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