Institute for Migration Studies (IMS)

Faculty and Researchers


Jasmin Lilian Diab

Assistant Professor of Migration Studies
Director, Institute for Migration Studies

Senior Visiting Fellows


Jill Alpes

Jill Alpes (she/her) is a legal anthropologist of migration specialized in the study of brokers and legal plurality in migration governance, with a geographical focus on West Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Migration Studies of the Lebanese American University and research affiliate at CESSMA (Centre d’études en sciences sociales sur les mondes africains, américains et asiatiques), she currently acts as principal investigator for “REMOVED: Removal Infrastructures for Syrians in Lebanon and Turkey,” funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation (2024- 2026). Based on fieldwork in Cameroon, Mali and Lebanon, she is the author of one book and 15 peer-reviewed articles in international journals on migration risks at points of departure, arrival and after returns and deportation. Her book Abroad at Any Cost: Brokering High-risk Migration and Illegality in West Africa challenges narratives of smuggling and trafficking and considers the governance of migration from the perspective of individuals and families in a country of departure in West Africa. Dr. Alpes cultivates an active interest in mixing qualitative and legal research methods with creative and participatory methodologies, such as futures literacy labs. She is a member of the UN Working Group on Returns of the UN Migration Network and has worked for and in collaboration with foundations and migrants and refugee rights organizations, such as Amnesty, Oxfam, the Danish Refugee Council and Picum..


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 University of Maryland.


Visiting Fellows

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Yara El Zakka 

Yara (they/them) holds an MA in Migration Studies and a Bachelor of Architecture from the Lebanese American University. Their research interests are centered on refugee studies, especially at the intersection of politics, space, gender and development. In their main research, Yara examined the interrelationship between youth development and spatial configurations, focusing on the socio-spatial inequalities youth face in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. They have also worked on two main studies on the Lebanese diaspora and political transformation in Lebanon. They are currently working on different projects that revolve around politics and humanitarianism, refugee and asylum routes and spatio-political containment at border crossings. Apart from academic research, Yara has been working in the humanitarian and emergency fields for over four years, focused on youth and adolescent development, partnerships and coordination, and knowledge management in Palestinian Refugee Camps and gatherings in Lebanon.

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Josiane Matar 

Josiane (she/her) is a D Phil candidate in Migration Studies and has been awarded the Rhodes scholarship for Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. Her research explores emerging practices of governmentality and the socio-political and economic linkages that develop between refugees and the rural poor in displacement-affected communities facing economic hardships. Josiane holds a master’s degree in International Public Management from the Paris Institute of Political Studies – Sciences Po and a bachelor’s in Political Science and International Affairs from the Lebanese American University. Prior to joining Oxford, Josiane volunteered and conducted field research in several refugee camps across Lebanon. She has also worked as a consultant for the research division at the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) and as an events and media coordinator at the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center.

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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.


Maria Calvário da Paz

Maria (she/her) holds a BA in International Relations from Coventry University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Humanitarian Action. Maria’s research focus is centered on the intersection of social inclusion of refugees and sports, specifically Syrian refugee youth in Lebanon. Her work is dedicated to exploring the concept of the triple nexus by examining the interplay of peace, social inclusion and the transformative power of sports in the lives of refugee communities. In addition, Maria has worked alongside Ajuda de Mãe, a Portuguese NGO, where she collaborated on a project that focused on empowering and supporting young mothers on their educational journeys.


Dima Masoud

Masoud (she/her) is a Graduate Research Fellow at the Center for Immigrant, Refugee and Global Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health. She is a global public health professional with more than seven years of experience in leading, supporting, monitoring and evaluating programs while conducting qualitative and quantitative research and teaching. Her academic background, rigorous training and certifications have equipped her to deeply understand various international health issues affecting refugees and immigrants. Dima’s work as a graduate research fellow has exposed her to many projects that target the health of immigrants and refugees in the US and abroad, including areas of heightened vulnerability due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, in her previous role as a researcher at the Institute for Community and Public Health at Birzeit University, she was tasked with leading a project in the 19 UNRWA refugee camps in the West Bank and Jordan to better understand the reproductive health needs of adolescent girls. For her dissertation, she is focused on understanding the gender-based violence experience of Syrian refugee women in North Lebanon.


Asli Saban

Saban (she/her) graduated from Başkent University’s Department of Social Work in 2014. She has been working in the migration space for over five years now, with an emphasis on refugees and displaced groups in Turkey, Lebanon and the Middle East. She is a former member and regional focal point of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth’s Migration Working Group. Asli has worked as a Research Consultant for the Global Compact for Migration implementation in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. Her work mainly focuses on marginalized migrant and refugee groups, labor rights, child protection and GBV, with a recent focus on the intersections of these areas of focus within the Dom Syrian refugee community in the MENA.


Carl Johannes

Carl (he/him) is a Public Management graduate with first-hand administrative and international experience in Public Administration. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Public Management in Germany in 2022 with a thesis entitled “Syrian Refugees in Lebanon – Which expectations do Syrian Refugees in Lebanon have towards their future in Germany?”. After completing his Bachelor’s degree, Carl worked for 7 months in the Municipality of Freiburg, Germany as a Human Resource Manager. He is currently completing his Master’s in European Public Administration at the University of Applied Sciences in Kehl and Ludwigsburg, Germany. Carl is especially interested in the interplay between political communication, international affairs and diplomacy with the refugee and migration landscapes in the MENA and beyond. Starting in December 2023, Carl will complete a three-month internship at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Mauretania, which is subordinated to the German Federal Government.


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.


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).



Research Affiliates


Miguel Mendelek

Mendelek (he/him) is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Saint Joseph University (USJ). He completed his BA in Political Science and International Affairs in 2018, and his MA in International Affairs in 2021 at LAU. His research interests are focused on social movements, migration, security, governance and gender studies. His approach is multidisciplinary in nature, and aims to better understand interconnected events in the historical, political, and international landscapes.



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). 

Former Faculty and Researchers