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Institute for Democracy & Higher Education

Our Team

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

Adam works with qualitative research, resource production and dissemination, and social media outreach at IDHE. His research largely focuses on civic outcomes of media use by college students, and his doctoral dissertation focused on how college student social media use impacts student civic learning and engagement. 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 president of the William & Mary Alumni Boston Chapter. Prior to working in a research capacity, Adam spent six years working as a student affairs administrator at Florida State University and University of Florida. 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 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.

Kyle Upchurch 
Research Associate, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education
kyle.upchurch@tufts.edu

Kyle is an Associate Researcher at Tisch College's Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE). He helps recruit campuses for the NSLVE study on college student voting, communicates with campuses about their NSLVE data, and works with IDHE’s qualitative research into the political climates of colleges and universities. Before joining IDHE, Kyle received his Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and his B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from Iowa State University. He has also spent time working in non-profits with both domestic and international missions related to education. Kyle is particularly interested in studying how democracies can function better, specifically with regards to political equality and elections.