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Faculty Directory

The Michigan State University African Studies Center has close to a hundred Core Faculty with experience on Africa, probably one of the largest in the nation. The Center features many scholars in social science, agricultural economics, African languages, the arts and humanities, education, health and medicine and many other fields.

The faculty members are listed alphabetically by college and departmental affiliation, noting geographical areas of Africa experience, and teaching and research interests.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the African Studies Center's Core Faculty, please fill out the Membership Request form

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Abigail Bennett Department: Fisheries And Wildlife
Countries/Research: Malawi
Email: benne592(at)

Adrian Blow Department: Human Development & Fam Studies
Countries/Research: South Africa
Email: blowa(at)

Michael Boivin Department: Psychiatry Osteopathic Med
Countries/Research: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Uganda; Kenya; Benin
Email: boivin(at)

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Biography: Dr. Boivin presently leads NIH-NICHD sponsored studies in Uganda pertaining to the neurocognitive rehabilitation in children surviving severe malaria and early caregiver training to enhance cognitive and psychosocial development in children with HIV. He is also collaborating on studies evaluating the neurcognitive effects cerebral malaria in Malawian and in Ugandan children, as well as on a recently completed R21 study on the developmental effects of maternal anemia in very young children in Benin. Dr. Boivin presently directs the neuropsychological assessment program in an NIH/NIEHS-sponsored study of konzo, a neurotoxic disease from poorly processed cassava in the DR Congo.

John Bonnell Department: Global Innovations in Development, Engagement, and Scholarship
Email: bonnell3(at)

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Biography: John Bonnell is Capacity Development Specialist with Michigan State University’s Global IDEAS. He designs and implements capacity strengthening programs with and for faculty at MSU and at partner universities. His fields of expertise include international and comparative education, higher education in developing countries, organizational change, and faculty and leadership development. He has conducted educational research and development projects in numerous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to joining MSU, John served for four years as a faculty member and head of department at a private university in Kenya. John earned a PhD from MSU in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education, with specializations in African Studies and International Development. John has co-lead institutional capacity development initiatives for the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (Innovation Scholars Program), the Borlaug Higher Education for Agricultural Research and Development program, and the Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research, Capacity and Influence.

Brahim Chakrani Department: Linguistics & Languages
Countries/Research: Morocco
Email: chakrani(at)

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Biography: Dr. Chakrani is Assistant Professor of Arabic in MSU’s Department of Linguistics and Languages, and he is currently MSU's Arabic Language Coordinator. He earned his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jonathan Choti Department: Linguistics & Languages
Countries/Research: Kenya
Email: chotijon(at)

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Biography: Jonathan Choti's research interests focus on the morphophonology of Bantu languages; he also teaches Swahili and a course in the integrated studies in the arts and humanities that deals with African cultures, languages and literature.

Damaris Choti Department: African Studies Center
Email: chotid(at)

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Biography: Dr. Damaris Choti is the Coordinator of Student and Alumni Programs at the African Studies Center, Michigan State University (MSU). She holds PhD and MA degrees in Educational Administration from MSU. Damaris oversees alumni and student engagement initiatives and activities for the center. She is a co-founder of MSU’s African Female Students Empowerment Program (AFSEP); advisory board member at the Greater Lansing African Female Empowerment Program (GLAFEP) and advises Africa-oriented student organizations at MSU. Her areas of interest include educational leadership; women leadership; girls’ education and empowerment; student advising and mentorship and alumni relations. She has authored two book chapters: Learning from What Has Worked in Women School Leadership and Girls’ Education in Kenya (Lexington Books, 2021) and Where did the Girls go?: The Role of Socialization and Institutions in Silencing Female Voices (SUNY, 2015). She is a recipient of MSU’s Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen) 2022 Inspiration Award in the category of Culture of Empowerment.

Joy Coates Department: African American and African Studies
Email: jcoates(at)

Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz Department: Political Science
Countries/Research: Uganda; Senegal; Ghana
Email: conroyk6(at)

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Biography: Jeff Conroy-Krutz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, where he began work in 2009.  His research focuses on political decision-making, particularly surrounding elections, in Sub-Saharan Africa.  He is currently working on a book manuscript on mass media, access to political information, and electoral decision-making in Africa, and is beginning a research project on comparative electoral campaign behavior in Africa.  To date, he has conducted fieldwork for various research projects in Senegal and Uganda.  Jeff received his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University in 2009.  In 2009-10, he will teach undergraduate courses in African Politics and Introduction to Comparative Politics at MSU.

Lisa Cook Department: James Madison College
Countries/Research: Nigeria; South Africa; Senegal; Ghana; Egypt; Tunisia; Madagascar; Mozambique; Namibia; Mauritius; Rwanda; Burundi; Uganda; Kenya
Email: lisacook(at)

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Biography: Dr. Lisa D. Cook is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and in International Relations (James Madison College) at Michigan State University. Among her current research interests are economic growth and development, financial institutions and markets, innovation, and economic history. As a Senior Economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the 2011-2012 academic year, Dr. Cook worked on the euro zone, financial instruments, innovation, and entrepreneurship.