I am an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Leiden University in the Netherlands. I joined the Institute of Political Science there in July 2018. Before that I was a PhD student at Cornell University's Department of Government, where I defended my dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Peter Katzenstein in July 2018.
My research brings together themes from International Relations, International Law and Comparative Politics. I am particularly interested in the politics of norms and values within the European Union, with an emphasis on minority rights.
The starting point of my dissertation, entitled "The Normative Ties That Bind? National and Sexual Minority Rights in a Post-Enlargement Europe," is that the rights of LGBT people and national minorities are part of the foundational values of the European Union. Yet, in practice, we see great variation in how political actors see these values as applying to minorities. I set out to explain this variation and argue that political actors are seizing upon the vagueness of EU norms to advance their domestic political agendas. You will find a more detailed description of my dissertation project on this separate page.
My broader research interests include international norms, constructivist and institutionalist theory, the role of parliamentary questions, intergroups inside the European Parliament, regionalism, and the design of international organizations.
I also completed an MA in Government at Cornell University; an M.Phil in European Politics and Society at the University of Oxford (distinction); an MA in Global History from a European Perspective at the University of Vienna and Stellenbosch University (summa cum laude); and a BA at a small liberal arts college in the picturesque city of Middelburg, the Netherlands (University College Roosevelt, Utrecht University; summa cum laude). I also held other positions, including that of an intern with the European Parliament, an instructor with the Council on International Educational Exchange in Amsterdam, a visiting fellow with the Berlin Social Science Research Center (WZB), and a consultant for Freedom House.
Many scholars may be loath to admit it, but there is in fact life beyond academia. Travel has been an exciting way to combine the professional and the personal. I was born in the sleeper town of Maassluis, the Netherlands, but have lived in different cities - including Berlin, Bratislava, Brussels, Ithaca, Leipzig, Oxford, Stellenbosch, Vienna and Vilnius - since my undergraduate degree. While in different places, I enjoy seeing modern art (everything pointillism and after), experiencing the food scene and sampling the local liquor.
I have a passion for tennis, but more court-side than actively on the court. I still attend as many professional tournaments as my schedule and itinerary allow. For some time I even dreamed of becoming a chair umpire, but I ultimately decided that academia was the better career path.
Both during and after work I listen to a lot of music. As the image on this website suggests, which depicts Lithuania's entry to the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, this includes some cheesy Europop. Otherwise my tastes veer more in the hipster direction. You may decide for yourself which is more embarrassing.
I also have an unhealthy infatuation with RuPaul's Drag Race.
I am native in Dutch, fluent in English, and am able to read German and French (and to embarrass myself while speaking these languages).