Our Team

Staff of the Tisch College Institute for Democracy and Higher Education pose for a portrait on July 16, 2019.
Clockwise from top left: Prabhat Gautam, Program Manager, Adam Gismondi, Program Manager, Duy Trinh, Program Coordinator, Peter De Guzman, Program Coordinator, Nancy Thomas, Director, Kyle Upchurch, Associate Researcher, and Dave Brinker, Senior Researcher. (Photo: Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

Nancy Thomas
Director, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Nancy L. Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. IDHE is an applied research center that studies higher education’s role in American democracy and supports college and university student political learning and participation. The Institute's signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) examines student voting rates, patterns, and conditions. Through NSLVE, nearly 1,200 U.S. colleges and universities receive tailored reports containing their students’ aggregate voting rates following each federal election. Her work and scholarship interests include college student civic learning and participation in democracy, campus climates for political engagement, deliberative democracy, political equity and inclusion, and campus free speech and academic freedom. She holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a law degree from Case Western Research University’s School of Law. She is also an associate editor at the Journal of Public Deliberation, a senior associate with Everyday Democracy, and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.

Adam Gismondi, Ph.D.
Director of Impact, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Dr. Adam Gismondi is Director of Impact at IDHE, where he conducts research, leads communications for the office, and helps build theory-to-practice strategy. His scholarship focuses on the current state and future of higher education, including college student activism, technology, and campus climate. Adam also currently serves as a part–time faculty member at the Boston University School of Education, as an advisory board member for SXSWedu, and as Civic Media Researcher at the nonprofit organization Civic Series. Prior to working in a research capacity, Adam spent six years working as a student affairs administrator. He holds a BA from William & Mary, an MEd from the University of Florida, and a PhD from Boston College.

Prabhat Gautam 
Data Manager, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Prabhat is the Data Manager at IDHE and works to maintain the NSLVE database. Prabhat supports the systematic processes of data management and analysis, as well as generation and dissemination of data in the service to colleges and universities interested in learning about their students’ voting habits. In addition to other analytical outputs, he creates interactive data visualization products for campuses and the general public. Prabhat’s interests include design and development of new research that seeks to explore questions of equity, diversity, and inclusion in political learning. He is also interested in understanding pathways of non-traditional leadership that help improve college student political engagement. Prior to this, Prabhat has worked within varied contexts of policy advocacy, higher education, and international development. He has an M.P.A from Cornell University and a B.A. from Kenyon College.

Dave Brinker, Ph.D.
Senior Researcher, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Dave is primarily responsible for conducting research on voting patterns among college students, drawing on the NSLVE database and other data sources relevant to student civic life. In addition to studying college voting, Dave researches deliberative democratic innovations and the communicative processes by which people build mutual understanding. He holds a doctorate from the Pennsylvania State University.

Duy Trinh 
Program Coordinator, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Duy is Program Coordinator for IDHE and is responsible for maintaining and managing campus relationships of all 1,100 participating NSLVE campuses. Duy is particularly interested in working with campuses to help them understand their NSLVE reports, how to use our study as a resource center, and the impact of their work on college students and civic engagement. She holds an M.S. from Northeastern University and B.A. from Connecticut College.

Peter de Guzman 
Research Program Coordinator, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Peter de Guzman joined IDHE as Research Program Coordinator in July 2019. Previously, Peter served as Tisch College’s Student Outreach Coordinator, where he coordinated Tufts University’s nonpartisan JumboVote voting initiative and supported the student programs and communications teams. Peter now supports the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education’s research, particularly the National Study on Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). Peter is particularly interested in studying civic identity and political engagement among ethnic minority populations and youth. During his time as an undergraduate, Peter studied Chinese and International Relations at Tufts, studying abroad in Hangzhou and Beijing.

DaShawn Dilworth
Researcher, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

DaShawn is a Qualitative Researcher at IDHE. As part of his work, DaShawn leads qualitative research efforts investigating the climates of college campuses for political learning and democratic engagement. His research interests include understanding the impact of voter suppression on marginalized communities, the efficacy of college students to engage in political learning, and the correlation of civic engagement on college student development. Prior to joining IDHE, DaShawn completed his Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from Florida State University and a B.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. When he's not doing research, you can find DaShawn with a good book, a good cup of coffee, or playing card games with friends.