Meet Our Spring 2024 Marcellus Policy Fellows

After a highly competitive selection process, the John Quincy Adams Society is pleased to announce its Spring 2024 cohort of Marcellus Policy Fellows. This is the Society’s eighth cohort of fellows. The Fellows will spend the next twelve weeks learning from top experts on foreign policy as they develop a think tank style policy analysis on a pressing issue facing U.S. strategy. They will also be trained to produce supporting materials to make their work more likely to have impact, culminating in production of an op-ed and a one-page policy memorandum. Past fellows have gone on to work at a number of prominent foreign policy institutions in government, academia, the media, and think tanks.

Janet Abou-Elias is a Research Fellow at the Center for International Policy and a Founding Board Member of Women for Weapons Trade Transparency. Her research focuses on international arms trade policy and U.S. foreign policy. She holds a B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of Texas at Austin. Her academic background and interests center on international security, U.S. Middle East foreign policy, and the intersection of gender and armed conflict.

Sophia Ampgkarian is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Geneva, Switzerland studying Political Science, Comparative Literature, and Russian East European Studies. She is interested in theoretical approaches to great power competition and state behavior in international law and draws from her background in the humanities to explore the civilizational mythology and strategic narratives which frame the post-Cold War order. Sophia’s policy analysis aims to situate the seizure of frozen Russian reserves for Ukrainian reconstruction beyond a moral-legal debate and examines the geoeconomic implications of the currently proposed courses of action. She explores the central role of the private sector in the endeavor and formulates potential consequences of an asset seizure for the global financial market, be it for Eurozone economics or BRICS de-dollarization efforts.

Dylan Bengard is a Program Coordinator with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he works on Congressional & Government Affairs. His policy interests involve the role of Congress in shaping foreign policy. Dylan is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Julian Lark graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 2020, having led the John Quincy Adams Society chapter on campus in his final year. He went on to earn a master’s degree in Security Studies from the same school, where he focused on the role of technology in international security. He has since worked variously as an editor and analyst of foreign policy publications, and started his own blog, Bathtub Row Review, in early 2024. He speaks Polish, German, Russian, and Persian (Farsi). Julian’s paper will argue that the United States’s policy towards Iran achieves rare tactical successes and amounts to a strategic failure. With only a brief consideration of Iranian nuclear development, militant sponsorship, and sanctions evasion, his paper will focus on those elements of the U.S.-Iranian relationship where shared interests between the American and Iranian peoples can form the basis for a more prosperous and stable future.

Jay Lee is a Program Specialist at the University of Southern California Korean Studies Institute. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations and a master’s in Public Diplomacy. His interests are in diplomacy, foreign policy, and Northeast Asian politics. Jay is also the co-founder of Aurora NK, a nonprofit organization that connects North Korean defectors to social resources.Jay’s paper intends to look at how the United States should engage diplomatically with North Korea to advance American national interests. His paper will evaluate past missed opportunities to pursue diplomatic strategies to reduce tensions and explore how the United States can reduce the risk of conflict through diplomacy rather than pursuing complete, verifiable denuclearization.

Henry Scavone is a former collegiate wrestler (Gettysburg College) who has worked in state politics at the Texas House of Representatives, Senate, and governor’s office. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree online in Homeland Security & International Affairs from Texas A&M’s Bush School for Government and is working at the Eurasia Group, Institute for Global Affairs as an External Relations Associate in New York City. Henry’s policy paper will focus on the current crisis at the U.S.- Mexico border and U.S. foreign policy going forward in North, Central, and South America. There have been many recent calls for intervention in Mexico through drone strikes, special army missions, and militarizing the border by U.S. officials ranging from congressmen, senators, and even presidents. What would be the consequences of this interventionist action from a U.S. point of view?

Rob Schantz is a Masters of International Affairs (MIA) student on the National Security and Diplomacy (NS&D) track at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. Originally from Maryland, Rob graduated, Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Alabama, earning both his M.A. and B.A. in political science in four years. Outside of academia, Rob has interned for the Governor of Maryland, on the Hill, and is currently a student research assistant for the Lab for Economic Development Research (LEDR). His policy analysis for the Marcellus Policy Fellowship will explore the merits of an offshore balancing strategy as it relates to combating Iranian proxy forces throughout the Middle East.

Sean Spata is an active-duty Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy.  He currently serves as a Weapons & Tactics Instructor in the E-2 Hawkeye community based out of Point Mugu, CA, and is responsible for instruction and development of fleet squadrons in advanced air defense tactics, techniques, and procedures in preparation for deployment.  Previously, Sean deployed to the South and East China Seas, the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, and the Mediterranean Sea.  Sean was an NROTC student at Boston College, where he received his B.S. in Environmental Geoscience in 2016, and is currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins in pursuit of an M.A. in Global Security Studies.  His policy analysis will explore U.S.-India Relations, concentrating on how the United States can adequately account for rising geopolitical powers.

Danny Vazquez Tarrau is currently a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service, completing his MA in International Relations, specializing in U.S. Foreign Policy & National Security with a second specialization in Global Security. His long-term career goal is to join the U.S. Foreign Service as a Foreign Service Officer in the political cone. Danny’s paper will propose rebalancing the power dynamics away from the National Security Council and towards the Department of State. The paper will advocate more emphasis on policy formation within the Department of State, while calling for a parallel track of inoculating the Department from future congressional budgetary constraints and allowing for the necessary internal reorganization of the Department, to fit it for purpose for generations to come.

Thaddeaus Webb is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Before attending graduate school, he served in the United States military as an Army intelligence officer. He has had the privilege of serving our country overseas in the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East. Thaddeaus is currently in the process of restarting the JQAS chapter at Johns Hopkins University’s Washington, DC satellite school. Thaddeaus’s policy paper will explore how and why Washington should reimagine the US-South Korea military alliance to help facilitate a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. The US-ROK alliance has not only outlived its usefulness but has created unnecessary risk and danger to the American homeland and its grand strategy. Applying Glenn Snyder’s mixed balance of power framework to the strategic competition on the Korean Peninsula can help U.S. decision-makers recalibrate America’s security guarantees to Seoul and create conditions for a peace settlement between the two Koreas.

Cindy Zheng is a research assistant at the RAND Corporation, where she conducts research on U.S.-China relations, Chinese foreign policy, and Indo-Pacific security issues. Prior to RAND, Cindy interned at the U.S. State Department’s Office of China Affairs, Brookings Institution, and the Wilson Center. Cindy received her BA in International Studies and a double minor in Economics and Asian Studies from American University. Cindy’s policy paper will discuss China’s current and future relationship with Russia. She will look at lessons China is learning from the Russia-Ukraine War and their implications on global security, specifically regarding grey zone activities, economic measures, and political tactics that could be applied in territorial disputes like those in the Taiwan Straits or South China Sea. Her analysis will provide a better understanding of the role that Washington could play in navigating between these two powers to maintain international peace.