My first career was in biochemistry. In 1999 I worked in a cancer lab at Sloan Kettering in NYC slicing frozen melanonas with a tool akin to a deli slicer. For my Senior Thesis at Williams College in 2001-2, I implanted rats with blood-pressure measuring telemeters in an attempt to study the relationship between caloric intake and blood pressure. Finding that it was I, not the sprague-dawleys in the experiments, who had become a lab rat, I decided I should find an intellectual job where I could work outside. I thought the Middle East was likely to be a growth field. In retrospect, I might have picked China. Either way, I didn’t realize I was substituting the lab for the library.
Since that fateful life decision in 2002, I’ve lived and worked in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, and Syria (where I was a Fulbright Fellow). As I’ve grown fond of saying: I’ve been at three stonings, two car bombings, and have been kidnapped once. That plus the fact that I have probably spent over a year of my life chatting with taxi drivers in Arabic has hopefully given me a different perspective from most academics from which to analyze the region. In 2010, I had my first 9-6 office job as Program Manager at a DC-based trade association seeking to promote US-Libya commercial and diplomatic ties.
Now, I have a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern History from Oxford (my thesis was on Libya during the British Military Administration period in the 1940s) and am currently enrolled in a PhD program at Cambridge. In addition, to my phd research and my editorial journalism, I advocate for certain policies towards Libya while trying to bring a balanced analyses onto the desks of policy makers and CEOs.