Institute for Migration Studies (IMS)

Faculty and Researchers


Jasmin Lilian Diab

Assistant Professor of Migration Studies
Director, Institute for Migration Studies

Senior Visiting Fellows


Philippe Boncour

Dr. Boncour (he/him), a French carrier civil servant, currently serves as Special Advisor to the French Ambassador at large for Science, Technology and Innovation, Mrs. Catherine Bréchignac, former President of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and “Secrétaire perpétuel” of the French Academy of Sciences. Dr. Boncour is a Part-time Faculty Member at SciencesPo, where he delivers a course on Migration Management. From 2014 to 2018, he was the Head of Cooperation and Cultural Affairs at the French Embassy to Tanzania and the East African Community, specifically dealing with the situation of refugees and migrants in Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda in collaboration with UNHCR, IOM and the EU delegation. From 2002 to 2012, Dr. Boncour served as a senior official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at its Geneva Headquarters. Dr. Boncour spent most of his previous career abroad, working for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in various capacities. Dr. Boncour is “professeur agrégé hors classe” and Commander of the French Order of the Academic Palms. He holds a Master and a Doctorate from the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV).


Filippo Dionigi

Dr. Dionigi (he/him) is a Senior Lecturer of Politics and International Relations at the University of Bristol. His research is focuses on IR theory with the scope of Middle East politics. Currently, his work revolves around the impact of Syrian displacement on neighboring countries, and cultivates an interest in text-mining applied to Islamist discourse. He is the author of the book “Hezbollah, Islamist Politics, and International Society” (Routledge Palgrave 2014), and several academic articles in IR and area-studies journals. His research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, and the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond among others.


Charbel Maydaa

Dr. Maydaa (he/she/they) is the founder and former Director of MOSAIC MENA (MOSAIC, the MENA Organization for Services, Advocacy, Integration and Capacity building) a non-governmental organization committed to the improvement of the health and wellness of LGBTIQ persons in the MENA region. He is a certified trainer on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, Sex Characteristics, Reproductive Health/Rights and Clinical Management for women and men survivors of sexual violence/rape. He currently serves as the Alternate Co-Chair and West Asia Representative of ILGA Asia, as well as a Researcher and Co-Investigator at the UKRI GCRF Gender, Justice and Security hub at the London School of Economics. Dr. Maydaa is the Co-author of the paper “Trust no one, beware of everyone: Vulnerabilities of LGBTI Refugees in Lebanon” published in the edited volume “A Gendered Approach to the Syrian Refugee Crisis” (Routledge 2017).


Jennifer Skulte-Ouaiss

Dr. Skulte-Ouaiss (she/her) is a longtime educator, researcher, and administrator. Her research has been published in Ethnopolitics, Education + Training, and Identities, among others, focusing on gender, higher education, migration, and identity. Her most recent work looks at women and work during the COVID-19 epidemic, focusing on Lebanon. Skulte-Ouaiss is also involved in higher education assessment and strategic planning. She is the founding director of LAU’s Title IX Office and she is the MEPI Gender Expert for mainstreaming gender throughout LAU’s teaching, research, policies, and procedures. She earned her PhD at the Univeristy of Maryland.


Visiting Fellows


Romain Mellies Horiot

Romain (he/him) is a graduate student completing his MA in human rights, refugee and asylum law at the Sciences Po’s Paris School of International Affairs. He has a background in history, sociology and international political science. His research currently centers around refugee and asylum law under the legal, historical and sociological prism. His ongoing research engages with the EU’s and France’s response to refugee movements from the SWANA region since 2011. Prior to joining the IMS, Romain served as a research assistant at the French National Court of Asylum (CNDA)’s Research Centre, studying the European asylum framework and its flaws, and the access to asylum for Palestinian refugees in the EU.


Dana Azzeh

Dana (she/her) is an Educator and an independent researcher. She holds a Master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, with a focus on international social welfare and services for immigrants and refugees. Dana worked as a research assistant with several academic institutions, as well as a Lecturer at the German Jordanian University, where she taught a course on “Conducting Research with Refugees and Vulnerable Populations” alongside other social work courses. In addition to her academic background, Dana is a humanitarian practitioner, and has worked for UNHCR and other NGOs in different capacities across Jordan, Turkey, and Uganda. Her current research centers on identity formation among Palestinian refugee youth in Lebanon.


Kristýna Kvasničková

Kvasničková (she/her) is a PhD student of Social Geography and Regional Development (SGRR) and a researcher at GEOMIGRACE Research Center at the Charles University (CU) in Prague, Czechia. She is a member of a research team focusing on factors influencing immobility in the Global South countries. She is a member of the Czech Evaluation Society CES and has previously worked as a program director of an NGO in Poland focused on Global Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ostrava in NGO management and a master’s degree in Global Migration and Development Studies from CU. Kristýna also holds a diploma from Ethics in Journalism that helps her navigate her work as a freelance photojournalist focused on social and political issues. Her published work includes the Czech newspapers Deník N and Hospodářské Noviny.


Prerna Rathi

Rathi (she/her) is a humanitarian practitioner with an MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies from the London School of Economics, and a BA in International Studies and Philosophy from the American University. She has worked with the government, non-profit and private sectors to facilitate accountability towards marginalized groups in the United States, UK, Belgium, Germany, Lebanon, Nigeria, Nepal and India for over a decade. Specifically, Prerna’s expertise is in program design, impact evaluation and capacity building processes. Given her strong intercultural and conflict assessment skills, she has proactively provided surge support in emergencies such as the Syrian refugee response, Boko Haram crisis, Nepal earthquake and Kashmir flood relief. Prerna has been applying a peacebuilding lens through sustained dialogue and storytelling with displaced communities. She is the Founder of the international NGO People Beyond Borders, for refugee empowerment.


Bechara Samneh

Samneh (he/him) is the Special Projects Coordinator at ILGA Asia for the Special Project to Assist LGBTI Afghans at Risk. He serves as one the MENA Organization for Services Advocacy Integration and Capacity Building (MOSAIC MENA) Board Members, where his work is focused on finding specialized and comprehensive service provisions for marginalized groups on a national and regional level. Additionally, he works in research and advocacy for policy reform on intersectional topics specialized in SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity/Expressions, and Sex Characteristics), refugees and environmental justice. He also served as the Youth Program Coordinator at MOSAIC, working on the capacity development of youths and their respective communities. He publishes academic and para-academic articles on social engagement in the fight against human rights violations, especially in the areas of LGBTIQ+ rights violations in the MENA region. He holds an MA in Economics and Policies from University College London (UCL), an MA in International Management of Public Procurement from the University of Rome - Tor Vergata, and a BA in Chemical Engineering from the American University of Beirut (AUB).




Chiara Scissa

Scissa (she/her) is a PhD student in Law at the ‘Institute of Law, Politics and Development’ (DIRPOLIS) at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, co-coordinator of the Environmental Migration Hub within the Institute’s DREAM Research Area. She is a former Visiting Research Fellow at the IOM Regional Office in Vienna (Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division as well as Policy and Liaison Division). She also serves as an external peer-reviewer for UNESCO’s upcoming SIDS Resilience Report. Previously, she served as Human Rights and Migrant Protection Focal Point at the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY), and collaborated with numerous universities in the development of EU-funded projects on migration, asylum, sustainable development and human rights, including the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice and the University of Bologna. There, she also worked as Supervisor, Tutor and Project Assistant. She obtained her Master’s Degree in International Cooperation and the Protection of Human Rights cum laude from the same University.



Elana Wong

Wong (she/her) is one of the Global Focal Points for the MGCY Migration Children and Youth Platform, where she leads youth participation in high level migration advocacy at the UN and state level. She was the former Asia and Pacific Regional Focal Point, where she led youth consultations and engagement in the Bali Process and Global Compact for Migration Asia-Pacific Regional Reviews, and co-organised roundtables and consultations with UNICEF, UNESCO, and at the global Migration Youth Forum. She has served as a panelist at multiple conferences and events, including the ASEAN Youth Summit, one of the migration civil society side-events at the High Level Political Forum 2021, the recent EUDiF Future Forum, and at the Expert Group Meeting on the Draft APAC Migration Report 2020. She is also the co-founder of Colours of Edinburgh, a social project promoting the self-expression of refugees and asylum seekers, and specializes in migration, minority and development studies. Elana holds a BA Liberal Arts from Kings College London, with a focus on English Literature and Developmental Geography, and an MSc in Sociology and Global Change from the University of Edinburgh. Her research interest revolve around diaspora contributions in the MENA.

Research Affiliates

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Mohammad Al-Abbas 

Al-Abbas (he/him) is a MEPI Tomorrow’s Leaders Graduate Scholar currently pursuing an MA in International Relations at LAU. Prior to enrolling in his MA, Mohammad completed a BE in Electrical Engineering at LAU. His research focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on migrant networks, labor rights, and healthcare access as well as the existence of discriminatory policies that forcibly expelled migrants from host countries. He is also proficient in data analytics, machine learning, and statistical methodologies. Other research interests of his include research assessment, Scientometrics, gender diversity within higher education, science-of-science, and policy design.


Janda Barazi

Barazi (she/her) is pursuing an MA in International Affairs at LAU, and holds a BA in Political Science/International Affairs from LAU with High Distinction. In 2019, she studied at Virginia Commonwealth University in the United States. She is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Middle East Partnership Initiative Tomorrow’s Leaders (MEPI-TL) Program Scholarship. She was awarded third place by MEPI-TL for her business project “Beit Nazik”, a center for abused women in Damascus. She is a NewGen fellow at the Arab Council for the Social Sciences, and an alumna of the Undergraduate Research and Discovery Program at LAU. Her research interests include Conflict Resolution, Peace and Gender Studies. She conducted her undergraduate research on the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, using Edward Azar’s theory of Protracted Social Conflict (PSC). Interested in women empowerment through education, she serves as an Advisory Board Member to DAWNetwork, an initiative that connects Syrian and American female high school students. Her current research looks into the impact of protracted conflicts on ethnic minority and migrant women in the MENA region.


Ziad El Jbeily

El Jbeily (he/him) a researcher and professional currently based in Lebanon. His research interests include state-building, migration, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, foreign policy and power-sharing. Currently, he is a Newgen Research Fellow at the Arab Council for the Social Sciences, and an MA Candidate in International Affairs at LAU. He also holds a BA in Political Science/International Affairs from LAU. Ziad has trained at the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in political, consular, and economic affairs. During his time, he supported the Ministry during the initial phases of the Lebanese Crisis and performed extensive foreign policy analysis research. Ziad’s initial research work for the IMS will focus on the refugee situation in Afghanistan, as well as on the impact of Consociational Democracy on citizen migration.


Karnie Kendirjian 

Kendirjian (she/her), is a graduate student in Migration Studies at LAU. After graduating with a BA in Economics from Haigazian University, she worked at an insurance company as an underwriting officer for two years, and currently works at the Special Investigation Commission. Her research interests revolve around studying diasporic communities and their multi-layered and complex identities amid diasporic consciousness. She is additionally interested in labor migration policies, specifically in the relationship between illegality and the Kafala system. For her thesis, she is studying the Armenian diasporic community in Lebanon and their integration into Lebanese society amid efforts to preserve their national identity.


Miguel Mendelek

Mendelek (he/him) serves as the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Assistant Project Coordinator at the Arab Institute for Women at LAU. He completed his BA in Political Science and International Affairs, and his MA in International Affairs with an emphasis in Middle East Area Studies at LAU. His research interests stem from the field of international relations, with a great focus on security, migration and governance studies, notwithstanding his contribution to understanding Feminist trends in different political and social contexts. Through his first publication featured in Al-Raida Journal, he explored the effects of Lebanon’s compounded crises on anti-Feminist backlash in the aftermath of the 2020 Beirut Blast. Importantly, Miguel firmly believes that multidisciplinary research is core to understanding complex events in the political and international realms. Through his contribution to the Institute for Migration Studies, and with a prime focus on the Middle East and Lebanon, Miguel, through different research publications, will explore the different patterns of ongoing migration trends, their socio-political context and their effect on home and host countries.


Hussein Kobeissi

Kobeissy (he/him) is a second-year Migration Studies graduate student at LAU. He is recipient of LAU’s GPS merit scholarship for academic excellence and research potential. His research interests encompass the transnational space, and the ability for individuals to engage in online-induced migratory patterns. Furthermore, Hussein exhibits interest in the humanitarian aspect of the field through promoting the application of universal human rights and the exertion of agency in a proportionate manner. Outside academia, Hussein is passionate about creative writing.


Joelle Oneissi

Oneissi (she/her) is pursuing an MA in Migration Studies at LAU through the Graduate Scholarship Program. She holds a BA in Political Science - International Affairs and Minor in Psychology from LAU with High Distinction. Her undergraduate research focused on the likelihood of Stockholm Syndrome as a source of support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Her thesis aims to establish a typology for combatants on foreign territories through a set of political, economic, and social factors. Additionally, her research interests include the EU migration policy and perceptions as well as the securitization of migrants. Alongside her studies, she works as a Legal and Advocacy Assistant at Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), where she monitors the human rights situation in Bahrain and its prisons.


Hucen Sleiman

Sleiman (he/him) is a practicing architect and a researcher in urban studies. He holds two master’s degrees in Architecture from the Lebanese University, and ENSA-Paris Malaquais. He also holds a Research Master in Sciences of Architecture, Landscape and Territories from L’Ecole Doctoral at the Lebanese University. He is currently a student in Migration Studies at LAU, and a Leadership Development Fellow under the MEPI program. His research focusses on the role of the built environment in offering migrants and refugees long-term sustainable development solutions, promoting mediation between the two cultural worlds of humanitarian and architecture, and providing shelters to displaced people in conflict situations. His research additionally focuses on the effects of architecture and the built environment on constructing an individual’s identity throughout their migration experience, with an emphasis on the notions of belonging, culture, memory, and habitus. Hucen’s research predominantly focuses on the Lebanese migrant community in West Africa.


Tala Lakiss

Lakiss (she/her) is a Project Officer on the Syria Emergency Response Programme at Catholic Relief Services. She was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Pennsylvania where she completed her Master’s degree in Education, Culture and Society with a focus on Refugee Education. She was a USAID scholar at the Lebanese American University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Education with honors. Her research focuses on non-formal education and social emotional learning for refugees (particularly Syrian refugees), barriers to education for the internally displaced and refugees, and media mainstreaming of refugees and asylum seekers. Her interests are in the fields of education for refugees, south-to-south migration, media biases and hate crimes.


Rasha Akel

Akel (she/her) is pursuing an MA in Migration Studies at LAU. In 2019, she earned a BA in Sociology/Anthropology from the American University of Beirut with high distinction. Her research focuses on skilled migration application processes to Canada, as well as on Lebanon’s stance as a country of transit (and not a country of refuge). 


Jana Al Hassanieh

Al Hassanieh (she/her) is currently enrolled in two graduate programs, pursuing an MA degree in International Affairs at the Lebanese American University and an MS degree in Environmental Health at the American University of Beirut.  She currently serves as the Disaster Management Advisory Group Officer for the MENA region at the Lebanese Red Cross, and as a Board Member and the Director of Learning and Development at The Phoenix Daily national newspaper. In previous roles, she served as a Research Assistant at the Climate Change and Natural Resources Sustainability Cluster at the United Nations ESCWA, and an Environmental Specialist Intern within the Department of Chemical Safety at the Lebanese Ministry of Environment. Jana’s research interests include Middle Eastern relations and affairs, conflict resolution, humanitarian development affairs, humanitarian diplomacy, disaster management, and environmental affairs.

Former Faculty and Researchers