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
617.627.4802
Nancy.Thomas@tufts.edu

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
617-627-4405
adam.gismondi@tufts.edu

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.gautam@tufts.edu

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
david.brinker@tufts.edu

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
thuy_duy.trinh@tufts.edu

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.

Norma López, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education
nlopez06@tufts.edu

Norma is focused on two major projects at IDHE. One is a campus climate case study, specifically related to how campuses closed equity gaps in voting. The other project is developing a conceptual framework for U.S. higher education that promotes an inclusive and strong democracy. She is also interested in extending the democracy framework into teaching modules. Norma's research agenda is focused on how higher education can enhance the development of critical consciousness in order to advance the agency and outcomes of Latinx/a/o students at all academic levels. Additionally, she is interested in whether democratic engagement is an indication of either/both consciousness and agency. Norma has 20 years of student affairs experience, as well as several years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate students. She received a Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, and B.A. from Williams College.