Project Staff

Senior Staff

Rosanne Libretti
Rosanne Libretti
Research Specialist

Rosanne started working at the Western Jihadism Project as lab manager in October 2014, and rejoined in the same capacity in July 2019. Her primary work at the WJP is with research on Jihadist radicalization, in addition to analyzing data and coordinating with external collaborators.

Priyanka R. Renugopalakrishnan
Priyanka R. Renugopalakrishnan
Visiting Research Scholar

Priyanka graduated with her MA from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management and now works for the Department of Defense. She continues to work for the Western Jihadism Project as a collaborator.

Aaron Y. Zelin
Aaron Y. Zelin
Visiting Research Scholar

Aaron is a visiting scholar at Brandeis University and the Western Jihadism Project. He has a PhD from King's College, Department of War Studies and is a fellow at its associated International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence. He is the Richard Borow fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where his research focuses on Salafi dynamics in the Arab world. He independently maintains the widely cited website Jihadology.net.

Current Staff

Joseph Coles
Joseph Coles
Staff

Joseph is a Posse Scholar at Brandeis University, pursuing dual majors in Politics and International Global Studies with a focus on the Middle East. He joined the Western Jihadism Project in the fall of 2018 as a research assistant. He’s interested in counter-radicalization policy and how governments deal with foreign fighters wishing to return to the west. Outside of the lab, Joseph loves watching basketball and being involved in student government.

Mae Lederman
Mae Lederman
Staff

Mae is a Sophomore at Brandeis University, pursuing dual majors in Psychology and Politics with a minor in Hispanic Studies. She joined the Western Jihadism Project staff as a research assistant in the fall of 2019, in an effort to explore the psychological patterns observed in radicalization trajectories. Outside of the lab, Mae is a part of an Improv troupe at Brandeis and sings in Brandeis’ all-female a capella group, Up The Octave.

Connor Sheehan
Connor Sheehan
Staff

Connor is a junior at Brandeis University majoring in Business with a minor in Economics. He joined the Western Jihadism Project as a research assistant in Fall 2018. He previously played for the Brandeis varsity baseball team his freshman and sophomore years. Outside of the lab, Connor has a passion for fitness and Boston sports teams and loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Nicholas Yanco
Nicholas Yanco
Staff

Nicholas is a junior at Brandeis University major in Business and Politics. He joined the Western Jihadism Project as a research assistant and is also a member of the varsity baseball team on campus. He is interested in the tactics used by Jihadi recruiting networks, and how they are able to advertise their organizations to prospective terrorists. Outside of the lab, he loves staying active and playing with his dog, Rocky.

Former Staff

Nathaniel Barr
Nathaniel Barr
Former Staff

Nathaniel graduated from Brandeis University in May 2014, majoring in politics and minoring in journalism. He has worked with the Western Jihadism Project since February 2013. During his time as a research assistant, he has conducted analysis on various terrorist plots, including 9/11, the July 7 London train bombing and the Al-Shabaab recruitment ring in Minnesota. He is currently tracking the recent wave of European and American citizens who have gone to fight in Syria. He previously worked as an Afghanistan/Pakistan research intern with the Institute for the Study of War and as a national security research intern with the Center for American Progress.

Haliana Burhans
Haliana Burhans
Former Staff

Haliana graduated from Brandeis in May 2019 with a MA in Global Studies. She got her undergraduate degree from Brandeis in 2018 majoring in psychology and international global studies with a minor in French. She played soccer and ran track at Brandeis. She has studied abroad in France. She joined the Western Jihadist Project as a Research Assistant in 2016.

Sam Chestna
Sam Chestna
Staff

Sam is a senior at Brandeis double majoring in Politics and English. He joined the Western Jihadism Project in March 2019 as a research assistant. Besides working at the lab, Sam works as a tutor for the Gateway Scholars program and competes on the Brandeis Men’s Fencing team.

Katherine Dowling
Katherine Dowling
Former Staff

Katherine graduated from Brandeis University in 2016, majoring in both politics and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, and minoring in religious studies. She began working with the Western Jihadism Project in March 2014. During her time as a research assistant, she translated various court documents from Spanish, Arabic, French, and Italian, and has conducted analysis on various foreign fighter recruitment hubs. She wrote her senior thesis on the evolution of the roles of women in terrorist organizations, with a focus on participation in ISIL. Since leaving the lab, Katherine has been employed by the NYPD as an intelligence analyst.

Yifei Han
Yifei Han
Staff

Yifei is currently in computer science graduate program at Brandeis after obtaining his BS in computer science and BA in economics from UCONN. He joined the lab in fall 2019 as a software developer. He aided the research group by fixing issues on the data portal, making migrations of database schema and importing data entries through writing script files. He is also responsible for deployment of new  updates on servers. His research interest mainly focuses on complexity improvements of algorithms in computer science and as of now, he is actively exploring reducing runtime and improving labeling correctness in distant supervision for relation extraction.

Zachary Herman
Zachary Herman
Former Staff

Zachary began working on the Western Jihadism Project in December 2010 while he was an undergraduate. He graduated from Brandeis University in 2012, with a BA in politics. After graduation, Zachary joined the project full time. Initially, his work on the project primarily focused on relationship analysis in Palantir and Excel, as well as on data verification. Over time, he became an integral part of the team and was in charge of workflow management, project design, and strategy. He directly communicated with each member of the team and ensured that their research was streamlined, well-done, and that it ultimately amounts to a cohesive whole. Zachary works for the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Alexandra Johnson
Alexandra Johnson
Former Staff

Alexandra joined the Western Jihadism Project in March 2015 initially as a research assistant, and then held the positions of analyst and RA supervisor until October 2016 when she moved abroad. After returning to the US the following year, she resumed work at the WJP and has since held the role of Senior Analyst. Her research focus includes transnational organized crime, the crime-terror nexus, and human trafficking. Outside of the lab she is active in a variety of local anti-human trafficking efforts and serves on the Steering Committee for the Global Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (GAHTTF) initiated at the United Nations in November 2018.

Alyssa Kann
Alyssa Kann
Former Staff

Alyssa majored in international relations, economics, and the environment, graduating in May 2019. She joined the Western Jihadism Project as a research assistant in January 2017. She is also a TA in the environmental studies department. She is interested in the impact of stringent counter-terrorism laws on democracies and human rights. She is also fascinated in how inequality can impact people's ideologies and actions.

Daniel Mangoubi
Daniel Mangoubi
Former Staff

Daniel majored in math and economics, graduating in May 2018. He does social network analysis and visualization for the lab, as well as other data analysis. He is interested in how data can be used to craft policy. He also likes cormorants, swimming, and history.

Evan Moloney
Evan Moloney
Staff

Evan is a senior at Brandeis University, pursuing dual majors in Psychology and Politics. He joined the Western Jihadism Project staff as a research assistant in the spring of 2019, in an effort to explore the intersection between violent extremism and clinical and social psychology. Outside WJP, Evan also works as a teaching assistant in the Psychology department and conducts research at the Brandeis Development, Sex and Aggression Lab with Dr. Ray Knight. He also pursues a lifelong study of the martial arts.

Michael Nagler
Michael Nagler
Former Staff

Mike joined the lab in February 2018, working as a software developer and database manager. He is a Brandeis graduate in computer science and mathematics. Mike's responsibilities in the lab include working to resolve issues on the remote servers where the data portal lives, improving performance of the portal itself, and managing the structure of the database. Mike is interested in using technology to make data accessible in order to find patterns and make sense of it all. He moved to Wisconsin and works as a software developer.

Renee Pite
Renee Pite
Former Staff

Renee graduated in May 2019, majoring in sociology with minors in Health: Science, Society, and Policy and philosophy. She was on the Brandeis Women's Fencing Team and joined the Western Jihadism Project as a research assistant in Spring 2018.

Yujiao Su
Yujiao Su
Former Staff

Yujiao is a senior at Brandeis University studying politics, philosophy, and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. She has been a part of the Western Jihadism Project since January 2017 as a research assistant. Besides working at the Western Jihadism Project, Yujiao is a contributing writer for Brandeis International Journal and has published her paper in the Asia and Pacific region. Her interests include Islamic jurisprudence and Islam in China.