2022 ISHR Human Rights Research Award Recipients

Monday, February 6, 2023

ISHR congratulates the 2022 Human Rights Research Award recipients: Akosua Akuoko, Giulia Campos, and Stephanie Starzynski. This award allows students to gain valuable research experience while supporting the work of Columbia faculty conducting human rights-related research.  

Akosua Akuoko

Research Project: Can Legislation Combat Race-based Hair Discrimination in New York City?
Faculty Researcher: Professor Ami Zota 
Akosua is currently in her second semester of the Human Rights Studies M.A. program with plans to graduate in Fall 2023. Her concentration largely focuses on the effects of colonialism and slavery on the African diaspora as well as the utilization of transitional justice to address past harms. Although her future is not set in stone, Akosua does plan to continue her focus on black populations after her graduation.
Research interest: "What made me particularly interested in Professor Zota’s research is my personal experience working and going to school as a black woman. My hair has always been a topic of contention and I am interested in understanding the real impact of nondiscrimination hair legislation on black people living in the United States."
Giulia Campos 
Research Project: Designing an Early Warning System for Gender Academia in Latin America
Faculty Researcher: Professor Yasmine Ergas 
Giulia Campos is a trilingual, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and storyteller from Brazil currently pursuing a Master's in International Affairs in Economic and Political Development at Columbia University. Giulia has extensive experience as a reporter, and spent part of her career working as a Special Project Coordinator at a Haitian non-profit supporting migrants through integration, education, and advocacy. Giulia's ultimate goal is to combine her storytelling skills with the sustainable development and data analytics knowledge she is acquiring in her courses in order to mitigate international crises and advance human rights. 
Research interest: "I was particularly attracted to the Early Warning System project ISHR and WGGA are developing because it provides me with an opportunity to work with passionate women who are interested in advancing gender and human-based rights around the world. By working on the development of the Early Warning System, I hope to contribute to the reduction of femicide, promotion of gender equality, and creation of spaces where people of all gender identities feel heard and protected, particularly in Latin America."
Stephanie Starzynski 
Research Project: Ethno-populism and Scandals: Evidence from Hungary and Poland
Faculty Researcher: Professor Tsveta Petrova
Stephanie is a freshman at Barnard who is planning on studying engineering. She is also passionate about Eastern European culture and politics. She is active in the Polish community in NYC as she is a member of the Polish American Folk Dance Company. She is currently a part of the mentor Ukraine program at Columbia where she helps high school students in Ukraine apply to American and international schools. She continues to show her support for the people of Ukraine by leading medicine and supply drives while also organizing information sessions about the use of propaganda in the Russian-Ukrainian war. 
Research interest: "As a first-generation Polish American, I was fascinated by Professor Petrova’s project which looks deeper into the big issue of media propaganda and the continued ruling of ethnopopulist leaders even in the face of scandals. Within the Polish community both in Poland and in the US, I have seen the impact that different media consumptions have on political values, as the national media is heavily in favor of the views of the ruling party. Witnessing how biased media has been used to cover up the scandals of politicians, especially in the decades following the fall of communism, I want to look at how these leaders are able to stay relevant in power and assist Professor Petrova in finding more how media pluralism and scandals are used to continue the ruling of ethnopopulists."