Colloquium Members

At EPIIC's core is the year-long, multidisciplinary course on a global political theme. Undergraduate and graduate students of diverse nationalities, viewpoints, experiences, and interests, participate in this rigorous colloquium that stresses critical, analytical and normative thinking. Students are encouraged to confront the ambiguity and complexity of EPIIC's annual global theme through a multi-disciplinary examination of the issues and controversies that the topic reflects. They are taught the subject under investigation not only by a broad range of distinguished academics and practitioners, but also as active participants in defining the issues through classroom presentations and discussions, extensive readings, and independent research. There is an emphasis both on individual progress and on the collaborative effort -- in essence, an intellectual team. Students produce tangible outcomes to their studies through their individual research papers or projects, the international symposium, and the Inquiry simulation.


Atrey Bhargava

Atrey Bhargava is a senior from Lucknow, India, pursuing international relations and economics. He has been involved with the IGL over his years at Tufts. He was in EPIIC as a first year, was the coordinator for the Oslo Scholars and a recipient of the award working in Serbia in the summer of 2018, and he was co-president of the Tufts Middle East Research Group. Also at Tufts, he has been involved in 180 Degrees consulting and Tufts Debate. He was also a Tisch summer fellow - he worked with the Massachusetts state government - and loves writing, data and research. He studied abroad at Oxford his junior year and is currently pursuing a research assistantship with the inaugural mentor program at the MIT Government Lab. He is very excited to come back to EPIIC and learn a lot more about China.


Elena Chavez

Elena Chavez is a senior from Brooklyn, New York. She is studying International Relations, Economics, and Entrepreneurship. On campus, she works as a Research Assistant in the Department of Child Studies and Human Development and is involved with the Tufts Consulting Collective and Women Entrepreneurs at Tufts. She has had many study abroad experiences in Spain, Colombia, Argentina, and Japan, which have enabled her to develop fluency in Spanish and proficiency in Japanese. This summer, she worked as a Financial Analyst at Altus Power America, a solar power company. She is interested in sustainable investing, environmental policy and economics, and international economic development. In EPIIC, she hopes to gain perspective on China’s role in global economic governance and how the U.S. can better engage with and respond to China’s rise.


Daniel DiGiovanni

Daniel DiGiovanni is a senior double-majoring in International Relations and Economics. Off campus, Daniel has interned for nonprofit, federal, corporate and startup organizations. After working in international trade research for the US Department of Commerce last fall, he studied abroad in Barcelona for two months before COVID-19 forced an early departure. Daniel currently works as a data analyst for Vertex Inc. (VERX) within the Market Intelligence department; he also writes, edits and publishes multiple briefs per week for Foreign Brief, an Australia-based geopolitical risk startup. His research interests span international law, software strategy and the intersections of geopolitics and development.



Ayia Elsadig

Ayia Elsadig is a sophomore at Tufts University, currently on an International Relations track with either an Africa or Middle East concentration. Ayia is also interested in economic and education development in those two regions. She is taking EPIIC’s class on China because she would like to learn how China became a superpower and has become involved in Africa and the Middle East, both economically and politically.



Jason Feng

Jason Feng is a sophomore from Shanghai, China, intending to major in Quantitative Economics and minor in both Mathematics and Finance. On campus, he participates in a variety of extracurricular activities including Men’s Club Soccer, Model UN, Best Buddies, and Tufts Trading Fund. Born in Philadelphia, Jason had lived in China (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai) for most of his life until high school, for which he went to a local public high school in Holmdel, New Jersey. Having lived in both China and America for a considerable amount of time, Jason is interested to learn more about the rapid rise of China through the US perspective.


Luke Heald

Luke Heald is a freshman intending to study International Relations and Chinese. He was born in Tampa, Florida, but has lived most of his life in Shanghai, China. Since moving overseas, Luke has become interested in the rapid rise of China as an economic powerhouse, and the impacts of policies used to feed its development—particularly with regards to Africa. He is deeply passionate about fostering international relations as a discipline, was heavily involved in the creation of a new MUN conference, and leading his school’s team in Shanghai. Luke also enjoys hearing about new stories and ideas, talking about politics, and making music. During his time at Tufts, he hopes to get involved with Mock Trial, write for the Daily, and perform with the symphony and jazz orchestras. In taking EPIIC, Luke hopes to learn more about the current state of Chinese foreign affairs and what it means for our world.


Carlos Irisarri

Carlos Irisarri is a rising senior at Tufts University. He was born in Paris, France and moved to Panama City, Panama at the age of ten. Along the way, Carlos picked up fluency in French, Spanish and English. Eventually settling on school in Massachusetts, Carlos has been studying a mix of Political Science and Philosophy with a minor in History for the past three years. His main academic interests revolve around political theory: topics such as state making, constitution writing, checks and balances, and comparisons of forms of government are some of his favorite topics to discuss. However, Carlos is also extremely interested in learning more about the reality of politics in a globalized world. In an effort to gain more knowledge about a part of the world of which he lacks almost any knowledge in at all, Carlos has decided to join this year’s EPIIC colloquium. This will be his third year taking EPIIC, which along with the IGL have been instrumental in advancing his college education. In his free time, Carlos plays football (soccer), does debate and model UN, wastes too much time on the internet and playing videogames and has far too many useless arguments with his friends.


David Jiang

David Jiang is a sophomore from Boston, Massachusetts. He plans on majoring in either international relations and/or economics. Like many Chinese Americans, David’s family immigrated to the United States during the 1980s and 1990s, a time marked by enormous national socioeconomic reform and cultural change. Growing up, David heard many stories about his family’s life in the motherland and had the opportunity to juxtapose them with his own observations traveling in the country, which as one could imagine, could not be more different. In EPIIC, David hopes to engage in a deep analysis of the great political, economic, and diplomatic transformation that China underwent in the past four decades, as well as its implication for the future. Outside of the classroom, David spends most of his time outdoors, engaging in activities like hiking, trail biking, camping, and wildlife watching. He also likes to play the piano, cook, and do “slow travel”, which he had the fortune to do before his undergraduate studies as a Tufts Bridge Year Fellow in southern Brazil began.


Colin Kennedy

Colin Kennedy is a member of the Class of 2021 and is originally from Seattle, Washington. He is double majoring in history and quantitative economics, with particular interest in journalism, international affairs, and human rights. He grew up and went to school in India, Switzerland and Ethiopia and is passionate about working with people across cultures. At Tufts, he is involved with the Tufts Daily, the Middle East Research Group (MERG), and the Oslo Scholars program with the IGL.


Elliot Lam

Elliot Lam is a senior at Tufts from Haworth, New Jersey. He is currently studying International Relations and Economics with a minor in Urban Studies. On campus, he is an undergraduate representative on the Committee on Student Life. He is also a big skier and an avid coffee fan. In EPIIC, he is excited to learn about China and to hear from the many guest lecturers.


Sofie Lasko

Sofie Lasko is a first-year student from the Chicagoland area. She anticipates studying International Relations with other academic interests ranging from environmental sciences and horticulture to social justice and global community. In high school, Sofie sparked an appreciation for the relationships between national identity and global politics while living and studying Buddhism and Lepcha indigeneity for a summer in Sikkim, India. During the year leading into her undergraduate studies, Sofie lived in South America studying Spanish language, organic farming, Andean cosmovision, and regional politics related to the Bolivian election of Evo Morales and aftermath. In addition, she led an independent anthropological study of Andean identity and Bolivian indigeneity. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and plans to use these skills in addressing her passion for human rights advocacy and policy. With past cultural and political studies, she is particularly excited to now gain an understanding of Chinese cultural identity in the context of international politics and foreign policy.


Benjamin MacLean

Benjamin MacLean is a senior from Exeter, New Hampshire majoring in quantitative economics. He is a returning EPIIC Alumnus after being a member of EPIIC 2019: Migration in a Turbulent World. In his time since EPIIC, Benjamin has worked in the Dominican Republic, studied abroad in Madrid, and scouted for the Baltimore Orioles, as he has for the past four years. On campus, Benjamin is the president of the Baseball Analytics Club. Outside of baseball, his interests include Spanish, history, and travelling. When not in class, he can be found watching and playing sports, exercising, and enjoying a game of cards with friends. After a memorable first year in EPIIC, Benjamin is looking forward to diving into China, a subject in which he does not have much prior experience.


Gwendolyn Mecsas

Gwendolyn Mecsas is a senior from Needham, Massachusetts, studying International Relations and minoring in Economics. At Tufts, she is a member of JumboVote, plays on the women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, and is the president of Tufts’s Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta. Gwen is keenly interested in the systems that uphold Democratic governments, both domestically and internationally, and has pursued these interests by interning at the World Leadership Alliance - Club de Madrid, the Massachusetts Statehouse, and the Massachusetts Voter Table. In EPIIC this year, she looks forward to learning about how China’s rise as a superpower has changed the global institutions and norms that western liberal democracies operate within and the ways in which western liberal democracies operate themselves.


Francesca Michielli

Frankie Michielli is a junior from New York City studying Economics, International Relations, and Spanish. On campus, she is the senior advisor of Women in International Relations, sings with the Jackson Jills, for which she is the treasurer, and volunteers with the Tufts Food Rescue Collaborative. Her academic interests include economic development, democracy in Latin America, and comparative politics. During the academic year, Frankie is interning with the Christensen Institute, where she is studying the ways innovation can bring about long-term economic prosperity. She is also researching assisted reproductive technology as an intern at TMRW Life Sciences.


Arjun Padalkar

Arjun Padalkar is a senior from Mumbai, India majoring in Quantitative Economics and International Relations with a specialization in security. He is an EPIIC’19 (“Migration in a Turbulent World”) alum. He is passionate about the field of public-private partnerships and their impact on economic growth and sustainability. On campus, he is a senior member of the Tufts International Club and the Tufts Middle East Research Group (MERG). After graduating, he hopes to become a financial and government relations consultant following his successful remote internship at Ernst & Young.


Isabella Preneta

Bella Preneta is a sophomore from Milford, Connecticut. She is pursuing a major in International Relations with a globalization concentration as well as a minor in Child Studies and Human Development. At Tufts, she is a member of the Varsity Swim and Dive Team and Tufts Democrats. Bella is looking forward to immersing herself in EPIIC and expanding her knowledge on the ever-changing U.S. Foreign Diplomacy with China and the role that China has and will continue to play on the world stage. Bella is interested in examining China’s current place in global affairs and how it intersects with her interests in the evolving human rights policies in the United States and around the world.


Iris Rodriguez

Iris is a freshman at Tufts from San Antonio, Texas. She hopes to study International Relations with a focus on global or community health with a minor in Chinese or Spanish. She loves trivia and has been on her school’s Quizbowl team and is an avid Jeopardy fan. Iris hopes to join the Tufts Mountain Club, the ALAS club, and the yoga club. Since taking Modern China and International Relations courses in high school, Iris hopes to learn more about the economic race between the United States and China and about Chinese investment via the One Belt One Road Initiative. Through this EPIIC class, Iris hopes to gain a greater understanding of Chinese politics and current events while using her knowledge of Chinese history to better understand the complex relationships between China and the rest of the world.


Alex Schnur

Alex is a senior from Greenwich, CT in the School of Arts and Sciences double majoring in International Relations and Spanish. Outside of the classroom, Alex is involved in the Tufts tour guide program, is a member of the Tufts Debate Society, and was able to study in Madrid through the Tufts-In-Madrid program in the Fall of 2019. Additionally, he has held internships at the Council on Foreign Relations (NYC) and the World Affairs Forum (Stamford, CT). Alex has been keenly aware of The Institute for Global Leadership’s presence on the Tufts campus for several years and has attended past symposiums put on by EPIIC students, some of which featured his closest friends who strongly encouraged him to take part in a future EPIIC course. Alex is excited for the opportunity to partake in this year’s EPIIC class on China and the World and looks forward to learning about the rise of China as a major political, economic, and diplomatic power as well as its role in today’s global order.


Rie Takemoto

Rie Takemoto is a sophomore from Tokyo, Japan, planning to major in International Relations and Economics. She is especially interested in the field of development and wants to pursue careers associated with education and social business in developing countries. Before coming to Tufts, she volunteered at a rural school in Cambodia and taught English to children in the marginalized community. On-campus, she is involved in the Japanese Cultural Club and Women in International Relations. Rie is so excited to be part of EPIIC and spend time deepening her knowledge and perspectives about China and its future relations with international organizations as well as foreign countries.


Yong Quan Tan

Yong Quan Tan is a sophomore from Singapore. He plans to double major in International Relations and Computer Science. His interests range from Asian geopolitics, tech, policymaking and entrepreneurship to the future of work from home. Yong Quan is a Fellow with the Clinton Global Initiative University, a global leadership program that nurtures next-generation leaders to make positive social changes. Before beginning his undergraduate studies on campus, he spent a semester abroad learning Spanish and interning at Eco-Huella Farm in Calca, Peru as a Tufts Civic Semester Fellow. This past summer, he interned under a serial exited founder at Brave Dynamics, a podcast startup that hosts senior leaders in the public, private and tech spheres, and Foreign Brief, a geopolitical research startup. On campus, he is a part of Tufts SIMSA and Develop for Good, a nonprofit founded by Stanford University students that develops digital tools and applications for other nonprofits & governing agencies. In EPIIC 2020, Yong Quan looks forward to furthering his learning in the field of China’s evolving global position in the 21st century.


Leo Westgard

Leo Westgard is a sophomore studying Political Science and Civic Studies. He is specifically interested in examining the intersections between education policy, economic empowerment, social mobility, and race in the United States. Since enrolling at Tufts, Leo has worked as an intern in the Office of State Senator Joe Boncore and as an enumerator for the 2020 Census. With his free time, he enjoys rock climbing with Tufts Climbing Team, spending time in the White Mountains with other members of Tufts Mountain Club, and tutoring for the Petey Greene Program. With EPIIC, he looks forward to examining how contrasts between American and Chinese foreign policies have caused changes in the power and appeal of the two nations in a rapidly changing world.


Brett Zakheim

Brett Zakheim is a sophomore from New York City. She is majoring in Economics and minoring in Chinese. EPIIC 2020 combines her passion for studying Chinese language and culture with her interests in economics and politics surrounding China. On-campus she is a member of Tufts Mountain Club, the Women’s Ultimate Team, and the COVID Education Team. She also tutors New York City public school students and helps high school seniors with the college process. Outside of the classroom, you will find Brett baking, playing tennis, and watching Survivor.