Research Team

I have a number of individuals working with me on various projects and research. Below you will find more information on my current team members. 

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Kersty KearneyKersty Kearney

Research Manager and Network Manager for the Defence and Security Foresight Group

Kersty is Dr. Momani's Research Manager for all of her ongoing research projects, as well as the Network Manager for the Defence and Security Foresight Group, a network funded through the Department of National Defence's MINDS program. She previously worked at Interpol’s Global Complex for Innovation within the ’Capacity Building and Training Directorate’, where she assisted in conceptualizing and monitoring ongoing programs in Southeast Asia, including a number of efforts related to improving border security and training police forces in the region. During her undergraduate studies, she worked for the House of Commons and the Ministerial Office of the Finance Minister.

Kersty obtained a Master of Human Geography from Radboud University in the Netherlands, specializing in Globalization, Migration, and Development in 2018. Her thesis sought to understand the parallels between the migration industry literature regarding migration brokers and its relevance within international sport. 

 

Jesse Uszkay pictureJesse Uszkay

Research Project Officer

Jesse Uszkay is a Research Project Officer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. She graduated from her Master’s in Economics at the University of Waterloo in 2020 and has since worked on contract with the Federal Development Agency of Southern Ontario researching and performing quantitative analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy. Her research focusses primarily on Canadian labour market equality, the economics of discrimination, and health economics.

 

 

Melanie Slimming PictureMelanie Slimming

Research Project Officer

Melanie Slimming is a Research Project Officer in the Department of Political Science working on several of Dr. Momani's gender research inititatives and supporting various activities for the Defence and Security Foresight Group. She previously obtained a Master of International Public Policy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, where she was granted the opportunity to work with Global Affairs Canada as a research fellow. The research conducted focused on gender equality, migrants, and Canada’s health care system. During her undergraduate studies at Wilfrid Laurier University she completed a double major in Global Studies and Communications and participated in several community engagement clubs on campus.

 

Arshia Alam

Research Associate, Mis/Disinformation and Ethnocultural Communities

Arshia Alam is a Research Associate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. Her research with Dr. Bessma Momani explores how disinformation is disseminated on private messaging applications in ethnocultural communities. She completed her Master’s Degree in Public Policy at the University of Calgary in 2021, where her Capstone Project examined mis/mal/disinformation and its regulation in the Canadian context. Her research interests include media literacy, ethnic and minority studies and Bill 21.

 

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Dr. Melissa Finn

Postdoctoral Fellow, Transnationalism, Populism and Security

Melissa Finn, Ph.D is a researcher in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. Her research focuses on citizenship, Arab youth, transnationalism, political participation, and anti-racism and youth empowerment frameworks through positive community engagement. She is the co-author of multiple academic articles on Arab youth and citizenship and has one single-author manuscript on al Qaeda and sacrificial agencies.

 

Dr. Shelly Ghai Bajaj

Postdoctoral Fellow, Mis/Disinformation and Ethnocultural Communities

Shelly Ghai Bajaj (Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2022) is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Bessma Momani on projects relating to identity, democracy, disinformation, and social media. 

She studies comparative politics of both developing and advanced industrial democracies and is interested in the politics of identity and ethnonationalist mobilization, political parties and party strategy, the use of social media by political actors, and South Asian politics. She is also interested in qualitative research methodologies, content analysis, and comparative historical analysis. Her work on Hindu nationalism and electoral politics has been published in Asian Survey (2017) and in an edited volume on Politics and the Religious Imagination (Routledge, 2010). 

 

Jean François BélangerDr. Jean-François Bélanger

Postdoctoral Fellow, Defence and Security
 

Jean-François Bélanger is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Bessma Momani on questions of cybersecurity and populism. His book project, titled Why Competence Matters: Counter-Proliferation and Deterrence, focuses on the variation in the use of force against nascent proliferators. Using concepts from practice theory and applying them in a strategic setting, the book examines how competence in previous deterrence crises plays an important role in the decision by counter-proliferating state to use force or not to curb proliferation. His broader research examines the role of status inconsistencies in nuclear proliferation, competence and rule-adherence, Coercive diplomacy in light of technological changes, and public opinion survey research related to questions of international security. His research has been funded by the Canadian Defense Security and Defense Funds, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Le Fonds de Recherche Société et Culture.
Jean-François received his PhD in Political Science from McGill University in February 2019. Prior to joining the University of Waterloo, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the International Security Studies Center at Yale University from 2018 to 2020.