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Junior Research Fellows

Junior Research Fellows are PhD students and Postdoctoral fellows who have a demonstrated interest in the research agenda and/or activities of the Tshepo Institute for the Study of Contemporary Africa, who request to the Director to be a Junior Research Fellow, and whose request has been accepted by Tshepo's Council.



Dr. Gemechu Abeshu, York University

Dr. Gemechu Abeshu is currently a Postdoctoral research fellow at York University. His research interests broadly include refugee integration; internally displaced persons; emerging new forms of non-state powers; and conflict studies. He is currently conducting research on the experiences of racialized blackness among Ethiopian refugees in Canada (partnering with the Oromo Canadian Community Association of the GTA). He is also working as a researcher at Access Alliance on “Impact of Social Isolation on Refugee Children and Youth, their Resilience and Coping Mechanism,” funded by CYRCC. His latest publication is "Control of Mineral Land by a Para-sovereign Power in the Ethiopia-Djibouti Borderlands," which is in Governing Natural Resources for Sustainable Peace in Africa (2023), edited by Okoi & Nalule.


Michelle Buckle, EdD candidate, University of Alberta

Michelle J Buckle is a doctoral candidate in secondary education at the University of Alberta, interested in arts-based research in dramatherapy and the experience of transgenerational trauma in homicide survivors. With over 29 years of experience in the dramatherapy field as a psychologist, Michelle runs a psychological practice in Ontario and Alberta. She specializes in using creative methodologies such as the arts, experiential learning, and somatic psychotherapy to work with children, teens, adults, families, groups, and within institutions. As an educator and therapist, Michelle uses the arts—embodied ways of knowing as a 'practice of freedom'—to encourage students and clients to creatively and critically enter new learning and inquiry.


Dr. Tedla Desta

Tedla Desta (PhD) has an interdisciplinary research and teaching background, including international development, media and communications, social justice and history. Dr. Desta earned his PhD from Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland in 2016 researching the communications, war and peacebuilding nexus from a multidisciplinary perspective. He lectured and was a researcher at Trinity College Dublin and Maynooth University, Ireland, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland; and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Pretoria, South Africa and conducted field research in Kenya and Ethiopia. His previous and current postdoctoral roles involved research on human rights, education, EDI and history. His research interests are East Africa, Diaspora, human rights, media, development studies, EDI, history and conflict resolution.


Esther Hayford, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University 

Esther Hayford is a PhD Candidate in the Lyle S. Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research focuses on African girls and activism in high schools in Ontario. 


Dr. Akalya Kandiah, Postdoctoral Fellow, McMaster University

Dr. Akalya Kandiah is a postdoctoral fellow in the political science department of McMaster University. She completed a PhD in International Development at the University of Ottawa, and her interests include migration, diaspora, international development, and decoloniality. Akalya has conducted research with the Diversity Institute (Toronto Metropolitan University), and LERRN (Local Engagement Refugee Research Network). Akalya has previously conducted field research in Toronto, Ghana, and most recently, Kenya. In 2019, her research placement with LERRN investigated the localization of humanitarian action in Kenya.


Dr. Nicolas Parent

Nicolas Parent holds a PhD in Geography from McGill University. His research focuses on the cultural dimensions of forced displacement, the politics of migration within social fields, and the various forms of dispossession resulting from conflict. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork primarily within the Global South, namely in Peru, Rwanda, and Turkey.



Contact Us:

Karen Cyrus, Director


Stacey Wilson-Forsberg, Associate Director