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IARI | Regional Expertise




Assistant Professor Daniel Esser’s research examines governance and program evaluation in fragile settings, in particular in the context of institution-building in cities in the Global South and resulting frictions between local and international interests and approaches. He also investigates issue prioritization and policy emergence in development assistance for health. He recently returned from Cuidad Juarez, Mexico where he conducted externally funded research on the drivers of resilience among local residents during periods of extreme violence. He has led similar research projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. In addition, Esser conducts research on agenda-setting, policy emergence and funding prioritization in global health. His current projects investigate causes of inefficiency and ineffectiveness in development assistance in support of addressing challenges resulting from aging populations in the Global South, as well as the political economy of country ownership in the context of HIV prevention campaigns and AIDS treatment programs. He has published on related topics in leading scholarly journals such as World Development, Global Public Health, and Ethics & International Affairs. Click here for more information.



Assistant Professor Carl LeVan focuses on comparative political institutions, democratization, economic development, authoritarianism in Africa, and African security. He has published articles about the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Nigerian democratization, and the problems presented by African power-sharing agreements. Recently, he carried out research on the economic consequences of Africa’s political cabinets and completed a book manuscript examining the delivery of local and national collective goods in Nigeria since its independence. He is a co-recipient of a Mellon Seminar Grant for 2013 from the Latin American Studies Association for a project on comparative constitutionalism with Todd Eisenstadt and Robert Albro. His article “Questions Tocqueville in Africa” won the Frank Cass Award last year for the best article on democratization published by a young scholar, and a forthcoming work critiques counter-terrorism strategy in northern Nigeria. Click here for more information.



Assistant Professor Rachel Robinson is a sociologist and demographer whose research focuses on African countries’ health policies and programs as well as the emergence and impacts of local reproductive health NGOs. She has extensive experience conducting research in Nigeria, Senegal, and Malawi, focusing in particular on in-depth interviews with representatives of federal ministries, donor organizations, and local NGOs, and conducting analyses of government and organizational documents. Robinson is presently working with SPA Associate Professor Jeremy Shiffman on a grant supported by the MacArthur Foundation that will investigate the factors that explain differences in adoption of sexuality across geographic areas, paying particular attention to the strategies of proponents.  They will focus on the political aspects of this research, including negotiations between key social and political actors, rather than the technical aspects of implementation, through studies across different administrative levels in Nigeria. As part of their research, they will compare sexuality education efforts in Lagos, Nigeria, where scaling-up initiatives have advanced the furthest in the country, with that of Mississippi, where the majority of school districts have chosen an abstinence-only strategy. Her work has been published in Demography, Journal of the International AIDS Society, Population Research and Policy Review, and Population Studies, and she is currently completing a book, titled Intimate Interventions, on the relationship between family planning and HIV/AIDS interventions in sub-Saharan Africa, under review at Cambridge University Press. Click here for more information.



Assistant Professor Susan Shepler's research interests include youth and conflict, reintegration of former child soldiers, post-conflict reconstruction, refugees, education and economic development, nonprofits and globalization, and childhood studies. In addition to conducting research for UNICEF, the IRC, and Search for Common Ground, she has authored several book chapters and journal articles in the fields of youth studies, human rights, and African politics. Her book on the reintegration of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, Childhood Deployed, is in production at NYU press and due out later this year.  In 2013, Shepler will travel to Jos, Nigeria, on a Fulbright fellowship to study the links between education, state fragility, and armed conflict.  Specifically, she will study Nigerians’ definitions of education and expectations for the state’s provision of education.  She proposes to set aside various Western notions of education to survey professionals working in the education sector as well as Nigerian youth and, in particular, unemployed young men, to examine their views of education. Click here for more information.


Assistant Professor Nina Yamanis's research focuses on improving the health and well-being of underserved populations in developing countries. She specializes in understanding and targeting the social determinants of HIV risk and relationship violence, evaluating and implementing novel methods for reaching hidden and vulnerable populations such as men who have sex with men, and developing multi-level interventions that improve health behaviors. She has conducted qualitative and quantitative field research for the past six years on the social and sexual networks of young, urban men in Tanzania and their influence on the men’s HIV risk behavior. She is a co-principal investigator on a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health that will evaluate the effects of a microfinance and peer leadership intervention to reduce sexually transmitted infections (STI) incidence, sexual risk behavior and relationship violence for young urban Tanzanian men. Also at present, Yamanis is collaborating with Assistant Professor Maria De Jesus on an examination of Latino men in the District of Columbia, the second-largest population group afflicted with HIV/AIDS in Washington. Their joint project will lay the groundwork for a future intervention project aimed at decreasing the rate of HIV transmission among Latino men. She was also recently awarded a grant from the District of Columbia's Developmental Center for AIDS Research to examine the social context of risk, identity and service use among black adolescent young men in Washington, the largest population group afflicted with HIV/AIDS in Washington. Click here for more information.