Recent news from members of the Institute community in Monterey and around the world.


This fall, Chelsea Jordan MAIEP ’15 ran her first 50k ultramarathon. It was the culmination of an 8-month season of the “Becoming Ultra” podcast, which each season features two novice ultra-runners and then follows up as they run the race together. The other runner, by total coincidence, was a fellow Institute graduate – Heather Ficke MAIPS ’16. While they both studied at the Institute in 2015, they had never met before they ran together at the marathon in Norton, Virginia, the weekend of October 12-13. And as a bonus, they came in first and second for the women’s 50k!

“If we don’t understand the threat, then we can’t defeat the threat,” alumnus Clint Watts MAIPS ‘05 testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Countering Domestic Terrorism in September, making the case for increased funding for research and training, among other things.

“Behind every language is a mentality.” The Associated Press featured alumnus Alexandre Ponomarev MACI ‘00, chief interpreter at the Tokyo Olympics next year. “I believe in acquiring a language you also acquire a certain mentality.”

“We are freelancers by choice,” Professor Barry Slaughter Olsen MACI ‘99 told the Wall Street Journal about how new California law AB 5, which has been called the anti-gig economy bill, impacts interpreters and translators. “I cannot see how being a part-time employee of six or seven different agencies or entities is feasible.”

As a first formal interpretation assignment, it does not get much better than interpreting for the President of France. In October, Petal Gahlot MATI ‘20 interpreted at a meeting between Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and French President Emmanual Macron in Paris, France. Gahlot is part of a cohort of Indian diplomats studying in the translation and interpretation degree program. 

Temie Giwa-Tubosun MPA ’10 discusses her work as the founder of LifeBank, a social enterprise that saves lives across Nigeria by efficiently delivering blood to labs and hospitals across the country in the third episode of MiddMoment: Ideas of Our Day, a new podcast series hosted by Middlebury President Laurie L. Patton.

“Every morning when I wake up and read the newspaper I am scared to see what treaty the U.S. is leaving,” Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov told students in Dr. William Potter’s NPT Negotiation Simulation class. On October 8th, students had the opportunity to engage directly with Ambassador Antonov, who formerly headed a number of Russian NPT delegations.



Professor of Education at Teachers College at Columbia University, Michelle Knight-Manuel MATESOL ‘81 has been named the executive editor of the Teachers College Record. The Record is a monthly peer-reviewed journal of research, analysis and commentary in the field of education.

Two students were awarded Boren Fellowships for the study of less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. Abby Richardson MAIPD ‘20, studied Arabic over the summer in Jordan, and Nicholas Seltzer MANPTS ‘18, is studying in China during the fall semester.

Another seven students were awarded the Critical Language Scholarship to study language over the summer. Three were awarded the fully funded scholarship to study Arabic: James Taylor MPA ’20 in Oman, Jonelle Still MAIPD/MAITED ‘20 in Jordan, and Kelsey Keehfus MANPTS ’20 in Morocco. JoAnn Doll MAIEM ’19 studied Indonesian in Malang, Indonesia, and Benjamin Wollam MAITED ’19 Chinese in Changchun. China, Umile Belmonte MATESOL ‘19 spent the summer in Chandigarh, India studying Punjabi, and Adriana Threlkeld MAIPD ‘19 worked on her Portuguese in Florianopolis, Brazil.

Just before she graduated last spring, Samantha Vila MATI ’19 learned that she had won the World Literature Today student translation contest. In addition to a monetary award, her entry was published in the online edition of World Literature Today magazine. Vila’s submission for the contest was a translation of the short story “Herford” by Gunter Silva, a young Peruvian writer. 

Katharina Gruenwald MAIPD ’19 was selected as the first-ever Amnesty International USA Fellow, funded by the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights Protection.



We’re not teaching students enough about weapons of mass destruction — and it shows, warns Sarah Bidgood MANPTS ‘16, director of the Eurasia Nonproliferation Program at the Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), in her article, “The Bomb in College Classrooms” published by Inside Higher Ed.

Associate Professor Lisa Leopold’s “3 tips for Justin Trudeau on how to say ‘I’m sorry’” were published by The Conversation in September. The article is based on Leopold’s research on the language of public apologies. Her research was featured in other publications such as The Inside Higher Ed “Academic Minute” podcast.

The latest issue of Foreign Language Annals (52/2) includes an article by Lama Nassif MATESOL ‘07: “Salience in the Noticing and Production of L2 Arabic Forms.” She is currently an assistant professor of Arabic Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, MA.

Professor Jeffrey W. Knopf, chair of the NPTS degree program, co-edited Behavioral Economics and Nuclear Weaponsa new collection of essays examining how insights about decision making from behavioral economics can inform nuclear policy.

International Education Management (IEM) Assistant Professor David Wick is one of the editors of a new virtual issue of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad dedicated to diversity and inclusion in education abroad.

Associate Professor Netta Avineri co-edited (with Laura R. Graham, Eric J. Johnson, Robin Conley Riner, Jonathan Rosa) the Routledge Publishers volume Language and Social Justice in Practice

The article “How Terrorist Actors in Pakistan Use Nuclear Weapons for Political Influence” by Associate Professor Sharad Joshi was published in the journal Asian Security. This article expands on the current research on nuclear terrorism by investigating how terrorist actors seek to capitalize on the nuclear weapons discourse in a country to gain domestic political influence.



Jason Blazakis, director of the Institute’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism (CTEC) presented at the Soufan Center’s Global Security Forum in Doha in October, along with Ali Soufan, Peter Bergen, Mia Bloom, and a host of international security experts. This year’s event focused on security challenges related to modern disinformation. Blazakis also presented on using open source tools to counter terrorism finance at a regional workshop organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Mongolia in September.

Three faculty members presented on their research at the Fall Faculty Forum at Middlebury College in September. Professor and Co-Chair of the International Trade and Economic Diplomacy (ITED) degree Wei Liang presented on “U.S.-China Rivalry: Trade War, Tech War, or New Cold War?” Gabriel Guillen, associate professor of Spanish gave a presentation on “Language Learning Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century,” and Philipp Bleek associate professor of Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies (NPTS) presented on “Answering Threats with Threats: Are Iranian Biological Weapons Fears Driving Offensive Development?”

Bleek and Cyrus A. Jabbari MANPTS ‘20 presented their joint research on Iranian government officials’ and affiliates’ biological weapons threat perceptions and responses at Middlebury’s Washington, DC office earlier in September. The talk was attended by a combination of Middlebury Institute and Middlebury College alumni and U.S. government officials.

Professor John Balcom taught a multi-genre translation workshop at the Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference in Vermont this summer.

This summer, Associate Professor Moyara Ruehsen conducted training for Pakistani government officials and law enforcement in Islamabad, Pakistan. The training focused on open source tools for financial crime investigations and suspect identification. This is the fifth training of this kind that professor Ruehsen, who oversees the Institute’s Financial Crime Management program, conducts in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

Also this summer, Associate Professor Mahabat Baimyrzaeva facilitated a strategic planning retreat for the Roza Otunbayeva Initiative (ROI) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. “The retreat enabled the leadership and the staff of ROI to rethink their own individual and organizational strengths, as well as refine their organizational strategy in the context of the country’s development.” 

The Center for the Blue Economy (CBE) and Blue Frontier co-convened a meeting of thought leaders from across industry, government, academia, and the conservation community of California in October. Attendees worked to refine the Ocean Climate Action Plan, a.k.a. the “Blue New Deal,” and prepare it for the national stage. CBE and the Blue Frontier Campaign put forward an Ocean Climate Action Plan (“Blue New Deal”) as a way for the US to respond to climate impacts on the world ocean.











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Eva Gudbergsdottir