The Center for Global Development and Sustainability

Fellows and Postdocs

Current Fellows

Afia Adaboh, PhD student in the Global Development and Sustainability Concentration

Afia Adaboh

Afia Adaboh was awarded her doctorate in the Heller School’s Global Development and Sustainability Ph.D. concentration. Her research focuses on social policy creation, implementation and evaluation in developing countries that aim to improve the quality of life of vulnerable and marginalized communities. Previously she worked with breadfruit farmers in Jamaica to develop a means to ensure survivability and improve fruit yield; helped to develop a comprehensive implementation and evaluation plan to reduce high maternal mortality rates in Somalia. She was a research team member for the GDS evaluation of the Akshaya Patra Mid-day Meal program in Lucknow, India. Dr. Adaboh also serves as the Senior Editorial Assistant for CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion published by GDS in collaboration with the Brandeis Library.

Senior Research Fellow, Non-Resident

Vinya Ariyaratne

Senior Research Fellow, Non-Resident

Professor Vinya Ariyaratne, MD, MPH, MSc., is Senior Research Fellow, Non-Resident. Dr. Ariyaratne is General Secretary, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, and Community Medicine Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. He also serves as the Director General of the Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning. Dr. Ariyaratne leads the Sarvodaya/GDS partnership on Re-imagining Sri Lanka's Social Protection Mechanisms, a research consultation with Sri Lankan civil society and community stakeholders.
Mei-Ling Ellerman, Visiting Scholar

Mei-Ling Ellerman

Mei-Ling Ellerman, PhD, Visiting Scholar, conducts interdisciplinary research on all forms of power, control, and subordination exercised over members of vulnerable groups, and the socio-cultural, socio-political, moral, psychological and cognitive factors that influence their responses. Ellerman founded The Action Research Project on Domestic Workers in Beijing, and led research on workplace issues and sexual harassment of Chinese female and male migrant domestic workers. Her other research projects have been supported by UNESCO and the Fulbright and David L. Boren Fellowships. Ellerman earned her PhD from The Australian National University.

Previous Fellows

Dinar Dana Kharisma, PhD student and a research assistant in the Center for Global Development and Sustainability

Dinar Kharisma

Dinar Dana Kharisma, PhD, finished his PhD at Heller in the Global Development and Sustainability concentration and served as a postdoctoral associate. He works with the Government of Indonesia on the development of national social protection programs, including the National Health Insurance and conditional cash transfer. His main research interest is social policy evaluation in developing countries. He participated in the GDS evaluation of the Akshaya Patra Mid-day Meal program in Lucknow, India and is now part of the GDS team for capacity building for baseline studies with RAINS in northern Ghana.
Purna Nepali, GDS fellow

Purna Bahadur Nepali

Purna Bahadur Nepali, PhD, was a Fulbright Visiting Research Fellow at GDS in 2017-18 and now works with GDS on capacity building in Nepal. Nepali was the Coordinator for the Regional Food Security Governance Project in South and East Asia for DanChurchAid, the development arm of Danish churches. He is currently conducting research on reorienting the political economy of agrarian transformations, focusing on marginalized communities in Nepal. He is an Associate Professor at Kathmandu University, where he earlier received his PhD in conjunction with the human geography program at the University of Zurich. His ongoing research is on landlessness, livelihood insecurity and social conflict with special focus on the Dalit community.
Man Bahadur Bishkawarma, former GDS Fellow

Man Bahadur Bishkawarma

Man Bahadur Bishwakarma, PhD, was a GDS Fulbright Visiting Scholar, and in August 2021 was appointed the Secretary of the Government of Nepal (the most senior officer in Nepal’s Civil Service). He is the first person of Dalit background to rise this high in the Civil Service. Previously, he was Joint Secretary/Director General of the Government of Nepal’s Department of Labour. Earlier he served as the National Manager for the Centre for Constitutional Dialogue under the UNDP Support to Participatory Constitution Building Process in Nepal. Dr. Man has now retired from government service and joined the Akamai University/USA as a faculty member and Kathmandu University/Nepal as visiting faculty in the MPhil in Education program. He has published widely on Dalit issues in Nepal.
Sukhadeo Thorat, former GDS Fellow

Sukhadeo Thorat

Professor Sukhadeo Thorat, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. He is the former Chair, University Grants Commissions, India, and former Chair, Indian Council for Social Science Research. He is the co-founder of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi.

Alfred B. Zack-Williams

Professor  Alfred B. Zack-Williams is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Central Lancashire, UK and the past President of the African Studies Association of the UK which in 2020 awarded him the Distinguished Africanist Award. He is a member of the British Academy Africa Panel, and Editor of the Review of African Political Economy.