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

Author: Hannah Heinzekehr

Incoming Peace Studies Ph.D. students (from left to right): Jeremi (Jem) Panganiban, Benjamin Francis, Wesley Hedden, Deborah Rogo, Ali Altiok, Joachim Chukwuebuka Ozonze, and Maria Caterina (Cat) Gargano

Seven new students representing six 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. For the first time in the program’s history, incoming doctoral students represent all six partner disciplines. 

“Our first-year cohort represents the best possibilities of peace studies in each of our partner disciplines,” said Catherine Bolten, director of doctoral studies and associate professor of anthropology and peace studies at the Kroc Institute. “They have phenomenal projects, dynamic backgrounds, and many collective years of experience in their fields. We are excited to see how they help move the discipline of peace studies forward.”

This year’s incoming students are: 

Ali Altiok (peace studies and political science) focuses on youth agency and leadership in peacebuilding. Most recently he worked as a research consultant for Saferworld, co-authoring a study on the implications of the growing presence of counterterrorism and approaches to countering violent extremism (CVE) at the UN Secretariat. During his doctoral studies, he plans to explore the impact of international peacebuilding and counterterrorism policies and programs on young people. He is a University Presidential Fellow. 

Jeremi (Jem) Panganiban (peace studies and anthropology) most recently worked as a program officer at the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau in the Philippines and as a professional associate of the leadership program of the East West Center in Hawaii. During her doctoral studies, she hopes to explore a feminist anthropology of sustainability, care, and resilience in maritime Southeast Asia. She is a University Presidential Fellow. 

Debora Rogo (peace studies and history) is a Kenyan attorney and human rights advocate. Before joining the Kroc Institute, she was the General Manager at the rural Sagam Community Hospital and its research hub, the African Institute for Health Transformation in Western Kenya. She plans to research the impact of the 1969 assassination of Kenyan politician Tom Mboya, and how that single act of violence helped inject ethnic tensions into the current political, cultural, and socio-economic landscape in Kenya. Rogo is a Kellogg Institute Doctoral Fellow.

Benjamin (Ben) Francis (peace studies and political science)  is originally from the United Kingdom and has a decade’s worth of experience working in the development and peacebuilding fields through a number of international NGOs. He has a particular interest in exploring the changes that take place in the aftermath of violent conflict and how state institutions can shape, or be shaped by, those changes. Francis is a University Presidential Fellow. 

Maria Caterina (Cat) Gargano (peace studies and psychology) most recently worked with the Psychosocial Innovation Network, a Serbian NGO, to found the Consortium on Refugees' and Migrants' Mental Health (CoReMH). research focuses on migration, interpersonal violence (including IPV & GBV), and mental health. Her experiences in several transit countries have made her particularly interested in developing interventions that are trauma-informed, culturally meaningful, and feasible to apply in displacement and other low-resource contexts. She is a Dean’s Fellow. 

Wesley Hedden (peace studies and sociology) is the founder of Sarus, an international nonprofit organization supporting youth peace leaders in Southeast Asia through peacebuilding exchange programs. His research explores the impact of social media on ethnic identity formation and interethnic conflict in Southeast Asia. Hedden is a Kroc Institute Mullen Family Fellow.

Joachim Chukwuebuka Ozonze  (peace studies and theology) comes to the Kroc Institute doctoral program stirred by his academic and personal experiences as a Catholic priest in Nigeria pastoring, teaching theology, working with commissions mediating violent conflicts, and accompanying families and persons struggling through the wounds of violence. His research interests live at the intersection of ritual, memory, identity, healing, and reconciliation, especially within contexts of mass violence. He is a Richard and Peggy Notebaert Premier Fellow.

Read full bios of all peace studies doctoral students.

In addition to welcoming new students, six current Ph.D. students were also awarded named fellowships funded by Kroc Institute Advisory Board members at the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year.

In addition to Hedden, Catherine Maloney (peace studies and psychology) and Alyssa Paylor have been named 2021-22 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 on the Advisory Board. 

Helal Khan (peace studies and anthropology) and Sean Raming (peace studies and history) and have been named this year’s Steven D. Pepe Ph.D. Fellows in Peace Studies. The Pepe Fellowship is the result of a generous gift from The Honorable Steven D. Pepe ’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 the Scullys, members of the Kroc Institute’s Advisory Board and longtime supporters. 

Created 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 2022-23 academic year are due by December 15, 2021. Learn more >>>

Contact: Kevin Vaughn, Assistant Director for Doctoral Studies,