• Susannah L. Smith

    Managing Director

    Susannah L. Smith (she/her) is an historian of Russia and modern Europe. Her research focuses on the intersection of national identity, official arts policy, and Russian folk music in the Soviet Union, 1917-1945. She studies and performs traditional Javanese music with the Sumunar Gamelan Ensemble. Before coming to the IAS, she was the managing editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, developed the Population Studies minor program and coordinated administration on the IPUMS-International projects at the Minnesota Population Center, and was assistant director of the Making of the Modern World/Writing Program at Eleanor Roosevelt College, University of California, San Diego.

    290 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Joanne Richardson

    Digital Information Strategist and Open Rivers Production Manager

    Joanne Richardson is the digital information strategist for the Institute of Advanced Study. Her undergraduate work at the University of Minnesota focused on geology, architecture, computer science and French, and she received a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the College of Design. Having spent many childhood weekends and holidays backpacking through many of the great American landscapes, she developed an early and lasting love of geology that has colored her interests ever since. She has a particular interest in digital media, strategic communications, and responsive design.

    210 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Laurie Moberg

    Editor of Open Rivers

    Laurie Moberg (she/her) graduated from the University of Minnesota with a PhD in anthropology in 2018. Her doctoral research investigates recurrent episodes of flooding on rivers in Thailand and queries how the ecological, social, and cosmological entanglements between humans and nonhumans, people and the material world, are reimagined and reconfigured in the aftermath of disasters. At the IAS, Laurie brings her ethnographic sensibilities, attention to story, and interest in human-nonhuman relations to questions of water and absented narratives closer to home.

    210 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Juliet Burba

    Grants Developer

    Juliet Burba works to develop and manage funding opportunities for the IAS. Before coming to the IAS, she served as a curator and program director at the Bakken Museum and as an exhibit developer and paleontological preparator at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Juliet brings to the IAS her experience developing projects to engage the public in trans-disciplinary experiences spanning science, medicine, and the humanities. She holds a Ph.D. from the Program in History of Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota and is an avid generalist by nature. When not at the IAS, she helps to manage a 35-horse boarding barn and rides and competes in dressage.

    210 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Abby Travis

    Communications Manager

    Abby Travis (she/her) manages IAS communications and content, advancing the IAS’s interdisciplinary mission through a range of strategic campaigns, events, initiatives, and digital technologies. Before coming to the IAS, she served as editor at Milkweed Editions, a nonprofit, independent press based here in Minnesota. Abby brings to the IAS her varied experience in engagement strategy, digital communications, fundraising, and over ten years in literary publishing to nurture an active and engaged ecosystem of writers, readers, educators, researchers, community members, and supporters. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Emerson College and is at work on a book about the sport and art of training horses for competition and the weight of human spectacle, ambition, and intention riding on the equine body. Her writing has been recognized as Notable by Best American Essays. When not at the IAS, you can find her meditating or under the tutelage of horses and trees.

    290 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Skyler Dorr

    Program Specialist

    Skyler Dorr (they/them) serves as the IAS program specialist and front desk receptionist. Before working at the IAS, Skyler graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a BA in both Political Science and German, Scandinavian & Dutch, focusing on German political philosophy. Skyler returned to the University in 2018, working at the Disability Resource Center until moving to the IAS in 2021. Outside of work, most of their time is devoted to community and campus activism as well as creative writing pursuits.

    290 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Carolina Maranon-Cobos

    Program Manager

    Carolina Maranon-Cobos (she/her) is the program manager for the Institute of Advanced Study.  Originally from Mexico and a new U.S. citizen, Carolina is passionate about the power of cultural exchange as well as using the arts and education as a tool to develop understanding between communities. Before coming to the IAS, she was the Cultural Attaché at the Consulate of Mexico in Saint Paul, and Public Events Manager at Global Minnesota. Carolina has also served on several advisory committees for different arts organizations in the Twin Cities, including the Ordway and Mixed Blood Theater. She joined the VocalEssence Board of Directors in 2018 after several years of serving on the Advisory Council for Cantaré! and has recently started her new role as Board Chair for the organization. Carolina thrives through collaborative work and genuine community connections. She also loves cooking for her friends, dancing lindy hop, and painting and drawing in her free time.

    290 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Bianet Castellanos


    Bianet Castellanos is an anthropologist, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of American Studies, and director of the Institute for Advanced Study. She is an affiliate faculty in American Indian Studies, Chicano and Latino Studies, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. Her new book, Indigenous Dispossession: Housing and Maya Indebtedness in Mexico (Stanford University Press 2021), analyzes how Maya families make sense of the cultural, political, and legal ramifications of neoliberal housing policies that privilege mortgage finance over land redistribution. It was awarded the Gregory Bateson Book Prize, Arthur Rubel Book Prize, and Edward Bruner Book Prize. Her other works include A Return to Servitude: Maya Migration and the Tourist Trade in Cancún (University of Minnesota Press 2010), Comparative Indigeneities of the Américas: Toward a Hemispheric Approach, which she co-edited with Lourdes Gutiérrez Nájera and Arturo Aldama (University of Arizona Press 2012), and the anthology Detours: Travel and the Ethics of Research in the Global South (University of Arizona Press 2019). She edited a forum on settler colonialism in Latin America for America Quarterly and is a member of the Critical Latinx Indigeneities Working Group. She served for five years as a board member of El Colegio High School in Minneapolis.

    290 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank
  • Lucy Bichakhchyan

    Communications and Programs Assistant

    Lucy Bichakhchyan is the Graduate Assistant for Communications and Programs at the Institute for Advanced Study. Lucy holds a BA in Public Relations from the American University of Armenia and an MS in Management of Science and Technology from the University of Minnesota. She brings a diverse skill set to her role. After being funded by the State Department as an exchange student at Saint Paul Central High School, Lucy decided to “come back home” and pursue her combined passions for technology, classical music, and education. Outside of her responsibilities at the IAS, Lucy is the founder of Maestro. This project seamlessly merges her love for technology with classical music, redefining the landscape of music education. As a Graduate Assistant, Lucy is crucial in shaping programs and communications at the IAS. Her multifaceted background and commitment to transformative education make her a valuable asset to the team. Join Lucy on this journey as she contributes to the IAS community.

    290 Northrop, UMN-TC East Bank