Kroc Institute welcomes five new Ph.D. students, names fellowship recipients


Incoming Ph.D. students Patrick McQuestion, Edward Ablang, Francesca Freeman, Adedoyin Okanlawon, and Joryán Hernández

Five new students representing four disciplines recently began the Kroc Institute’s interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Peace Studies. Incoming students were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants from around the world. 

The University of Notre Dame program is a partnership between the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, and the College of Arts and Letters Departments of Anthropology, History, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, and Theology. The program now includes 31 students. 

“This year’s class emerged from one of our most competitive applicant pools in history,” said Catherine Bolten, director of doctoral studies and associate professor of anthropology and peace studies at the Kroc Institute. “We are thrilled that we are able to welcome a class with such diverse strengths and look forward to the impact they will make at Kroc.”

This year’s incoming students include:

Edward Z. Ablang (peace studies and history) holds research interests rooted in his experience as a missionary cleric. Through this work, he facilitated a reconciliation process in the United States, at the request of Vatican prelature; expanded community networks in Spain; and carried out operations in Belgium, France, and Italy. He is a Notre Dame Presidential Fellow, and his doctoral research aims to advance the public understanding of religion.

Francesca Freeman (peace studies and history) plans to study rescuing narratives during and after mass atrocities, with a particular focus on regional and international state actors in the modern Middle East. Previously, she worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) supporting randomized evaluations of social interventions to address poverty, and at the Social Science Research Council, supporting a fellowship for African Ph.D. students studying peace and security. Francesca is a Notre Dame Presidential Fellow.

Joryán Hernández (peace studies and theology) holds an M.Div. and Certificate in Latinx Studies from Vanderbilt University and a B.A. in Religion from the University of Florida. As a Ph.D. student, Hernández plans to build upon his Master’s work and explore how theologies of resistance can actualize radical changes to repressive conditions in authoritarian regimes. Hernández is a recipient of the Joseph Gaia Distinguished Fellowship in Latino Studies.

Patrick McQuestion (peace studies and political science) holds a Master’s in Development Management and Policy from Georgetown University, in combination with Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina. Prior to joining the Ph.D. Program in Peace Studies, he worked as a research associate for the Kroc Institute’s Peace Accords Matrix. McQuestion will concentrate his studies on comparative politics and methods.

Adedoyin Okanlawon (peace studies and psychology) holds a Master’s in Research Psychology from the University of Massachusetts. Okanlawon’s initial interest in peace studies began during her experience working with a church organization in Nigeria to help reconnect youth who were attempting to reintegrate into the community after being recruited by gang members in various areas of Lagos. Her research will focus on understanding how societal structures contribute to stigma, and the implications for the development of war-affected youth and their families. Okanlawon is a Richard and Peggy Notebaert Premier Fellow.

Read full bios of all peace studies doctoral students.

In addition to welcoming new students, five current Ph.D. students were also awarded named fellowships funded by Kroc Institute Advisory Board members at the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year.

Maria (Cat) Gargano (peace studies and psychology), Joachim Ozonze (peace studies and theology), and Jeremi Panganiban (peace studies and anthropology) have been named 2022-23 Mullen Family Fellows. The Mullen Family Fellowships were created in 2008 thanks to the generosity of the family of Jack Mullen ‘53, chair of the Kroc Institute’s Advisory Council from 2003-2016, and current member of the Kroc Institute’s Advisory Board. Jack’s daughter, Paddy, also serves as chair of the Advisory Board. 

Debora Rogo (peace studies and history) has been named this year’s Steven D. Pepe Ph.D. Fellow in Peace Studies. The Pepe Fellowship is the result of a generous gift from The Honorable Steven D. Pepe (B.A. ’65), a retired U.S. Magistrate Judge (Michigan) and member of the Kroc Institute’s Advisory Board. Pepe’s gift provides ongoing support for doctoral students in peace studies who have distinguished themselves in research, teaching, or service.

Flora Tang is the John and Judy Scully Fellow in Peace Studies, a five-year appointment. The Scully Fellowship is a result of a generous donation by John and Judy Scully, members of the Kroc Institute’s Advisory Board and longtime supporters. 

Benjamin Francis (peace studies and political science) is the 2022-23 Darby Fellow. The Darby Fellowship was established in 2010 in memory of John Darby, professor of comparative ethnic studies at Notre Dame from 1999 until his death in June 2012. The award is given annually to students who exemplify his commitment to rigorous, normatively-informed scholarship on peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

Established in 2008, the Kroc Institute offers the world’s only fully joint Ph.D. between peace studies and one of six traditional disciplines. Peace studies doctoral graduates are prepared for a wide range of scholarly, teaching, and professional positions.

Applications for the 2023-24 academic year are due by December 15, 2022. Learn more >>>

Contact: Kathryn Sawyer Vidrine,