Robert F. Byrnes Memorial Fellowship

Robert F. Byrnes Memorial Fellowship

This fellowship preserves the memory of the founder and first director of REEI, Robert F. Byrnes, by supporting an outstanding incoming student. The REEI Fellowship Committee awards this two-year fellowship to a deserving incoming graduate student in Russian and East European studies.

The fellowship provides a stipend of $20,000, a fee remission, and health insurance. It is renewable for a modest stipend in the second year of study.

For information on how to give to the Robert F. Byrnes Memorial Fellowship, please contact Mark Trotter, at

Eligibility: Must be an outstanding incoming student in the Russian and East European M.A. program.

Award: Stipend of $20,000, a College of Arts and Sciences fee remission towards 12 hours of College of Arts and Sciences credit in both the Fall and Spring semesters as well as 6 hours of College of Arts and Sciences credit in the following summer session, and health insurance.

Application: There is no separate application for this award; the standard application to the REEI M.A. program serves as application for the fellowship.

Activities of the Robert F. Byrnes/REEI Endowed Fellowship recipients

Nika grew up in Georgia and finished his undergraduate studies at the Free University of Tbilisi with a BA in International Relations. He studied East Asia and the Chinese language as a part of his undergraduate education. Nika has worked as a teaching assistant at the university and as a lecturer at the student club. During his senior year, he also interned at the US Embassy in Tbilisi and researched the politics of the Russian Federation at GFSIS (Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies). His research interests include Soviet cinema, literature, history; Khrushchev Thaw and its effects on nationalism, artistic freedom; Ukrainian history and culture.


Bossan Abdyyeva is originally from a small village in Turkmenistan. She grew up speaking Turkmen and Russian, and enjoys learning new languages. She is the first person to receive a higher education in her family. She holds two Associates in International Studies and Spanish, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. During her journey of applying for masters’ programs, she became a Global Rhodes finalist. Bossan is passionate about women’s rights (especially educational rights) in Central Asia, while studying Russian influence on former Soviet Union countries. She believes that Russia affects education in Central Asia, and has research interests that include women’s educational rights, equity, and human rights. Bossan's career goal is to become an ambassador/diplomat in the future. Outside of academics, Bossan enjoys running, outdoor activities, and extreme sports.  


Shan Karemani studied political science and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Stetson University. After studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia and completing his thesis on nationalism in Kosovo and Central Asia, Shan graduated magna cum laude and became a Peace Corps volunteer in Kosovo, where he taught English to elementary and middle school students. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and looks forward to improving his Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian skills as a FLAS Fellow. Shan’s research interests include ethnic politics, nationalism, islamophobia, and orientalism.


Born and raised in a small town in Kosovo, Jeta Loshaj finished her undergraduate studies at Rochester Institute of Technology- Kosovo, with a major in Public Policy and Management, and a minor in International Relations. She completed many internships in international non-governmental and governmental organizations, including UNDP Kosovo and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. She has also interned at the German Parliament in Berlin, and until now has been working as a project coordinator at the German political foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung office in Prishtina. In her upcoming studies at REEI, she aims to learn more about the language, culture, and history of Russia, as well its foreign policy and influence in the Western Balkans.


Claudia Lahr graduated with Honors in Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies and History from the University of Michigan in April, 2017. In 2017-18, she undertook a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship at Irkutsk State University in Irkutsk, Russia, also teaching at US Embassy sponsored youth camps in the republics of Yakutia and Buryatia. Her research interests lie in historical anthropology as well as religion in Russia and Eurasia.
Alexandra "Sasha" Stott graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2016 with a double major in History and Russian, a minor in Anthropology, and a certificate in Russian and Eastern European Studies. This fall, she will began her third year at IU and continues to improve her Russian and Hungarian language skills as well as learn more about library science as a dual REEI MA/MLS student.
Madeline McCann studied Russian and East European Studies at the University of Chicago. In May, 2018, she conducted research at the National Archives with the support of a REEI/Mellon Student Research grant. During the summer of 2018 Madeline spent eight weeks in St. Petersburg studying advanced Russian through Arizona State’s Critical Language Program. In October, 2018 she participated in a Russian Studies Workshop event held at IU’s Europe Gateway location in Berlin, Germany. Madeline completed her REEI MA in May 2019. Following graduation, she completed internships with the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and with Bellona Environmental Services in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since early 2020 she has been serving as Program Coordinator for the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia) at George Washington University.

Alyse Camus double majored in REES and American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is pursuing a dual degree with Library Science and is interested in the intellectual and artistic interactions between Russia and the U.S. in the early 20th Century. She is working with Wookjin Cheun this year as the Library Assistant G.A.

Kayleigh Fischietto, originally hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a B.A.from Georgetown University with a major in Russian Language and Literature. In 2014 she spent a semester in St. Petersburg studying Russian while volunteering at the Hermitage. Her research interests include gender and sexuality in early post-revolutionary Russia as well as the interaction between Finnic peoples and early Novgorodians. She is currently completing a dual M.A./M.L.S. in order to pursue a career in Slavic area studies librarianship.

Zack Suhr grew up in Kansas and graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Russian and German and a minor in Government. He has studied Russian in Kirov, Kazan, and Moscow. Zack is especially interested in Russian foreign policy, the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in society, and Russian poetry. He is in D.C., working in the defense policy field.

Elizabeth Tomlinson is from Starkville, Mississippi and graduated from Rhodes College in 2012 with a double-major in International Studies and Russian. She has studied Russian in St. Petersburg and Kazan, and she has spent the last year traveling through the Former Soviet Union and teaching English through a government initiative in Georgia. She is interested in post-Soviet development and democratization.

Hannah Kay graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in Russian from Truman State University. She has taught English both as a Fulbright E.T.A. in Izhevsk, Russia and as part of a Georgian government program in Manglisi, Georgia, where she developed interests in the post-Soviet economies of Russia and the Caucasus. She is pursuing a dual M.A./M.B.A.

Rebecca Mueller grew up in central Wisconsin and received her B.A. in Anthropology from Smith College in May 2008. After college, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania. Rebecca is an Russian and East European Institute M.A. student interested in contemporary Southeast European culture, politics, and diaspora communities. She speaks Albanian and began studying Croatian through SWSEEL during the summer of 2011.

Elizabeth Trammell graduated from Wesleyan University in May 2010 with a B.A. in Government and Russian and East European Studies and a certificate in Environmental Studies. As an undergraduate, she studied in Irkutsk and worked for Great Baikal Trail, an environmental organization that builds hiking trails and provides environmental education to the Baikal region. Originally from Indianapolis, Elizabeth is happy to be back in her home state to pursue her research in Russian environmental policy and comparative politics. She hopes to enter into a Ph.D. program in Political Science after earning her M.A. degree at Russian and East European Institute.

Meghan White is originally from California and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Psychology and a Russian Language minor. She traveled Russia as an undergraduate and decided to teach English there after graduation. She returned from the year in Russia with a passion for researching Russian national identity construction and Russia’s changing political and cultural relationship with the countries of Central Asia, especially Tajikistan.

Emily Young graduated from Carleton College with a degree in music. She has studied abroad in Wales and Russia, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania, and is currently pursuing a dual M.I.S./M.A. with SLIS and Russian and East European Institute. Emily's interests include the history, culture, and politics of Russia and the Balkans.

David Stira graduated from The George Washington University in May 2007 with a dual B.A. in International Affairs and History. His interests include the military of the former U.S.S.R./Russian Federation and the geography/demography of Siberia. David completed his M.A. in May 2009 and is working in Washington, DC.

Colin Dietch completed his Russian and East European Institute M.A. degree in May 2008. He is currently studying French in Paris in preparation for pursuing a law degree in international human rights.

Brant Beyer completed a dual M.A./M.P.A. with Russian and East European Institute and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs in August 2008. He is currently seeking a career in international development. During his degree program, Brant completed summer internships with the Department of State in Hungary and U.S.A.I.D. in Washington, DC. Brant has been serving as Project Manager for West European Studies at Indiana University since fall 2008.

Andrew Burton completed his Russian and East European Institute MA degree in August 2006 and entered the Indiana University political science doctoral program focusing on ethno politics in the Balkans and Hungary. Andrew served as Academic Advisor/Assistant Director for Student Services in the Russian and East European Institute from 2007 to 2009. He is currently working for the U.S. Government.

Lyndsay Miles completed her Russian and East European Institute M.A. degree in May 2006. She spent the academic year 2005- 2006 on a Fulbright Student grant for research in economics at Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service. Lyndsay currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and daughter, where she works as a research grants manager for a public health company.

Daniel Saulean completed his Russian and East European Institute M.A. in August 2003. He works for Boston College Libraries.

Patrick Kinney completed his M.A. in Russian and East European Institute in 2002. He and his wife moved to Pécs, Hungary and taught English for five months before returning to the U.S. to attend to a family member in failing health. Patrick is employed by Sun Valley Lodge near his home town in Idaho. He reports that he and his family love living in the mountains, but may make a move next year to seek better employment opportunities related to his field.

Renne Traicova completed the Russian and East European Institute dual M.A. degree with the School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2002. She began her career as Program Manager for Macedonia and Serbia in the Washington, D.C., office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), but moved up to the position of Country Director of the NDI office in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2005. NDI is a nonprofit organization that provides practical assistance to civic and political leaders advancing democratic values, practices and institutions in countries all over the world. In 2007, Renne was promoted to Senior Program manager at NDI. She is currently managing an NDI project in Serbia.

Eric Boyle completed the Russian and East European Institute dual M.A. degree with the School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 1999. His first job was for the Caucasus Office of Catholic Relief Services in Yerevan, Armenia. He then moved on to become Resident Advisor in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with the Urban Institute. From 2004 to 2007, Eric was the Regional Director at the Eurasia Foundation Kyiv Office in Ukraine. The Eurasia Foundation is a privately managed grant-making and development organization which operates with support from U.S.A.I.D. and other donors. In 2007, Eric returned to the U.S. where he now works as the Director of Program Development for the Eurasia Foundation 2007.

Stephen Nedell completed his M.A. in Russian and East European Institute and master’s in library science from Indiana University in 2000. He works as a Cataloger and Project Manager for the Donohue Group, Inc., a provider of professional contract services to libraries, museums and historical societies.