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Meet the Staff

Click on the drop-downs below to learn more about the awesome GenCen staff!

Stephanie Nawyn, Director


Stephanie Nawyn
Co-Director for Academic Programs, Outreach, and Engagement

Stephanie Nawyn is the Director of GenCen. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing all activities at the GenCen, developing and managing the academic
programs, leading research initiatives, and facilitating outreach and engagement across campus and with the off-campus community. Stephanie also does advancement and development for GenCen, working with fundraising offices in ISP, the College of Arts and Letters, and the central administration.

"Dr. Nawyn has established herself as an engaged scholar, a community leader, and an extraordinary role model for students," said Anne Ferguson, senior associate dean for International Studies and Programs and former co-director for the Center for Gender in Global Context. "GenCen not only benefits from her depth of experience and innovative thinking, but also her passion for the work."

Nawyn joined Michigan State University in 2006 and is associate professor of sociology. She is a core faculty member for GenCen and is also affiliate faculty for the Center for Forced Migration Studies at Northwestern University. Nawyn's research and teaching areas of expertise are in gender and migration, with a focus on forced migration and the ways that structural inequalities inhibit incorporation. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Southern California.

Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
I have a cat, Suleiman the Magnificent, named after the great Ottoman Sultan, and a beagle mix dog, Kirby, named after the Nintendo video game.

What is your favorite things to talk about:
My research, feminist epistemology, my kids, and whatever I'm watching on Netflix.

If you had any career other than the one you have, what would it be?
Something involving food preparation, even though the hours are terrible.


Rajalakshmi Nadadur, Assistant Director


Rajalakshmi Nadadur
Assistant Director

Rajalakshmi Nadadur serves as GenCen’s Assistant Director. In this role, she manages the research team, maintains and builds the existing network comprising of interdisciplinary scholars, various MSU departments and units, external partners, and provides program management support for gender transformative research.

She holds a PhD in Religion and Gender from the University of Stirling, U.K. and her research is in intersectional feminism and social justice with a specific interest in migration. Before joining GenCen, she was a Project Assistant Professor at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo where she taught research and writing, and an introductory course in Anthropology of Religion in the Japan in East Asia program. Since 2007, she has taught in various capacities at universities in the U.S., U.K., and Thailand. She is currently the co-editor of the Critical Religion Association based at the University of Stirling. Between 2015 – 2019, she was also an affiliated researcher at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Outside academia, she has worked in media and public policy research in India, U.K., and Thailand, where she has also held voluntary positions for organizations, including the UN-ACT, working with the urban refugee communities.

What is your favorite thing to talk about?
Gender theories and the news.

If you were to have a career other than your current/planned one, what would it be?
A librarian or a museum curator. They are some of the coolest people on the planet.

Do you have pets?
Yes! Our Siamese cat named Tanuki. She is a gloriously grumpy queen who mumbles a lot and likes to sit on the sofa like people.

Caitlyn Vader, Office Coordinator

MicrosoftTeams-image.pngCaitlyn Vader
Office Coordinator

Caitlyn is the Office Coordinator at GenCen and manages the operations and communications for the center. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Western Michigan University and a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Eastern Michigan University. Apart from work, Caitlyn is also an avid reader, golfer, and loves to kayak. She also helps run her family’s tree farm in
Gaylord, MI.

What's your favorite thing to talk about?
Traveling! My goal is to visit all 50 states and love to hear about other people's experiences while traveling.

If you were to have a career other than your current/planned one, what would it be?
I would want to be a baker. I love baking different breads and would be so happy to get to do it daily.

What's your favorite joke?
How does NASA organize a party? They Planet

Patrick Arnold, Undergrad/Grad Advisor

Patrick Arnold
Academic Specialist - Undergrad/Grad Advisor
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Patrick Arnold is an academic specialist in GenCen entering his third year with the Center and the Women's and Gender Studies program.  He serves as the academic advisor for all undergraduate and graduate students in GenCen programs, and also coordinates student internships, assists in curriculum development, and teaches WGS courses. His passions are to facilitate student success at every level of the college experience, and to advocate for gender and racial equity in MSU policies, curriculum, and culture.  

Patrick comes to GenCen from the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he taught in the Women’s and Gender Studies program. Patrick holds a B.S. in Philosophy and English from Northern Michigan University and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan. He worked on a PhD in ethics at the University of Nebraska but is now pursuing a Public Health degree at MSU.

What's your favorite thing to talk about?
I am fascinated by literally everything. I want to take every class at MSU and geek out about them with others. I also enjoy talking about new shows and podcasts. Currently, I am digging the podcast Bad Gays, about the lives of complicated queers in history.

What are you currently working on?
My main current research project involves investigating the impact diversity courses and programming have on participants. For instance, do they reduce gender or racial bias? Do they promote a sense of belonging particularly for underrepresented student groups? From this research, I hope to learn ways of teaching these courses more effectively.

Mae Crowell, Fiscal Officer/Financial Analyst

Mae.jpgMae Crowell
Fiscal Officer

Mae Crowell is the Fiscal Officer at GenCen (and several other units within International Studies & Programs). In her role, she is responsible for managing all financial accounts and coordinating human resources. Having held a variety of staff and administration roles across campus, Mae has been a proud employee of MSU for 20 years. She enjoys the variety of programs and people she gets to work with at GenCen.

Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
We have two dogs, Beau is a 14 year old Golden Retriever and Luke is a 5 year old Chocolate Lab.

What's your favorite thing to talk about?
My grandkids!

If you were to have a career other than your current one, what would it be?
I'd be a caterer or event planner.

Lucy Thompson, Senior Research Fellow

Lucy.jpgLucy Thompson
Senior Research Fellow

Lucy Thompson serves as the Senior Research Fellow for GenCen. Lucy is a feminist psychologist who works in the fields of critical, social, community, and organizational psychology. Her main topics of interest include feminist perspectives on work and organizations, and institutional perspectives on identities, power, and trauma. 

Lucy has been with GenCen since she began leading the Education Abroad program, “Gender, Sex, and Feminism in the UK,” in the summer of 2017, but now joins GenCen in an official capacity as Senior Research Fellow. In this position, Lucy works closely with GenCen’s Assistant Director, Rebecca Irvine, on grant applications and various gender and sexuality research projects. 

Lucy also works as an Assistant Professor for the Department of Psychology, where she has been employed since 2017. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2006, and her PhD in Organizational Psychology from Leeds Beckett University in 2014.

Top 5 Things I like about Michigan (as a British person) in no particular order:
1. Better Made Rainbow Chips
2. Miller's Bar in Dearborn
3. My local neighborhood: REO Town
4. The Mission Peninsula wineries
5. The Detroit Institute of Art

What's your favorite joke?
Q: Where do mansplainers get their water? 
A: From a well, actually.

Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
My cat, Rocky, travelled from the UK with me when I relocated to Michigan. She's now known in our household as the Michigan Princess.

Danielle Dalimonte-Merckling, Research Fellow

Danielle Dalimonte MercklingDanielle Dalimonte-Merckling
Research Fellow

I am a Research Fellow with the GenCen. My research interests revolve around understanding why children in seemingly similar circumstances vary in their developmental outcomes. With a specific interest in the interplay between biology and environment, my work often focuses on individual differences in environmental sensitivity especially as it relates to variations in child temperament but includes an interest in individual differences more broadly and a variety of questions regarding moderation of effects. I also work as a Research Associate in the Human Development & Family Studies department, where I received my PhD in 2019.

If you were to have a career other than your current/planned one, what would it be?
When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a stagehand for a touring rock band. You know, back when microphones had cords, and you'd see some guy throwing himself across the stage to make sure they were out of the way, and where your job was to be so in tune with your performer that you could anticipate their next move to ensure the path was clear or that they had enough length to climb that rigging. They're the face, and you make sure they don't fall on it. This still perfectly (albeit metaphorically) summarizes my current ambitions.

Top 5 Mark Lewis Jones roles (limited by what I've been able to see in the U.S.):
1. Steve Baldini; "Keeping Faith"
2. Stanley; "The Passing"
3. John Bell; "Hinterland"
4. General Pikalov; "Chernobyl"
5. DI Doug James; "The Commander"

"I'd never admit it, but I secretly love _____."

Steven Brooks, Research Intern

Steven Brooks
Research Intern
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I’m a senior majoring in history, women’s and gender studies, and psychology. In my spare time, I love listening to music and reading about music history. As GenCen’s research intern, I will be working on grant and project briefs, literature searches, and research projects.

What's your favorite thing to talk about?
Mariah Carey’s whistle register.

If you were to have a career other than your planned one, what would it be?
After taking Dr. Marcie Ray’s class on music, gender, and sexuality, I briefly considered dropping everything to become a musicologist.

What's your secret talent that no one knows about?:
When I sing “Sorry Not Sorry” in my car, I sound exactly like Demi Lovato. I’m not kidding. I don’t like bragging, so I won’t, but I would if I did.

Lauren Dauber, Academic Programs Intern

Lauren Dauber
Academic Programs Intern


I'm this year's Academic Programs Intern for GenCen. I am a second-year student from Chicago, IL (I've lived there my whole life), and I am double-majoring in Social Relations & Policy (James Madison College) and Women's & Gender Studies. In addition, I am on the pre-law track and plan to graduate a year early to go to law school! I also work as a POE Peer Educator.

Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
I have a 1 year old mini golden doodle named Gatsby. He definitely lives up to his namesake & is always the life of the party!

I’d never admit it, but I secretly love ____
Naked mole rats and/or GLEE!

Make a top 5 list of your choice
Top 5 Humans I Would Sacrifice Myself For:

1.  Bernie Sanders

2.  Megan Thee Stallion

3.  Poe Dameron

4.  All of “The Squad” (Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, AOC)

5.  April Ludgate

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