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Our Team

The IDHE Team

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 a data analyst with 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.

Kyle Upchurch 
Research Associate, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Kyle Upchurch is an Associate Researcher at Tisch College's Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE). At IDHE, he leads qualitative research efforts into the climates of college campuses for political learning and development. Kyle is particularly interested in how democracies can function better, specifically with regards to political equality and elections. He also helps recruit and manage campuses for the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), communicates with campuses about their NSLVE data. Before joining IDHE, Kyle earned his Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, with a focus on Political Systems and Human Security, at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and his B.A. in Political Science, Spanish, and International Studies at Iowa State University. He has also spent time working in non-profits with both domestic and international missions related to education.

Duy Trinh 
Program Coordinator, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

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.