This semester, The Slavic Connexion begins its third season! We are thrilled to announce some new additions to our team, joining us as hosts, assistant producers, and development assistants.
Katherine Birch is a junior at the University of Texas-Austin double-majoring in International Relations and Global Studies, and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Although a native Houstonian, Eastern and Central Europe have always held special places in Katherine's heart, as her family lineage hails from the Czech Republic. She is an avid lover and learner of Europe and her interest in demystifying the complexity of Russia developed long before attending UT Austin. Katherine joins The Slavic Connexion as a host and hopes to better her personal understanding of the REEE regions, which are too often misunderstood. In addition, she looks to expand upon her interests in U.S.-Russia relations, politics and cultures of Post-Soviet states, and learn about ways in which relations between the U.S. and Eastern European nations can be strengthened through dialogue. Outside of academia, Katherine enjoys reading non-fiction books, learning languages such as Russian and German, and hiking.
Zack Johnson is a first year M.A. student in the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies program at UT Austin. Born in the waning days of Cold War, Zack grew up in the waters of southern California. While he wasn’t surfing, swimming, or fishing, he enjoyed studying political history, geopolitical affairs and exploring the depths of U.S.-Russia relations. Zack earned a B.A. in Political Science from San Jose State University, for which he examined the Soviet-Afghan war and the ‘Foreign Fighter Phenomenon’ seen during the conflict. To date, he is pursuing his M.A. in the REEES program, with a focus on rural political activism in Russia and Western business investment in Russia. In his personal life, Zack enjoys just about anything outdoors, such as a good game of pick up soccer or hiking with friends. He is an avid traveler and hopes that many more returns to Russia, many more pelmeni, banya visits and continued dialogues with Russians, are in his future!
Lexi Jovanovic is a second year dual-degree M.A. student in Global Policy Studies and Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies at UT Austin. A Texas native, Lexi spent time in New Mexico, France, Singapore, and Wyoming before returning to pursue her Master's degree. She has a B.A. in International Security Studies from the University of Oklahoma, and her research interests include Russian foreign policy, post-Soviet transition, and intelligence studies. In her free time, she enjoys baking, hiking, existential contemplation, and Gossip Girl.
Luis Camarena Kuchle is an undergraduate at UT Austin majoring in International Relations and Global Studies, with a focus on international political economy and European Studies. He was born and raised in Mexico City and had the opportunity to move to Austin five years ago to pursue a better education. Luis is also very interested in sustainability and economic development, and is a cinephile, big soccer fan, and avid traveler.