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Faculty member named vice president of scholars' organization

Yael Warshel lecture
Yael Warshel was elected vice president of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS), the North African studies association.

A Penn State faculty member who has built an international reputation for her work in “peace communication” was elected vice president of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS), the North African studies association.

Yael Warshel is an assistant professor of telecommunications and media industries. She was first elected as an AIMS board member in 2017, ostensibly becoming the first communication scholar to help administer the association. She also serves as Penn State’s inaugural institutional representative to the group — having brokered the relationship between the association and the University.

Among other regions, Warshel conducts primary research across Northwest Africa, about media, socialization and forced migration, and serves as founding director of the Children, Media and Conflict Zones Lab based at Penn State. She is also a Rock Ethics Institute research associate, and affiliate faculty of African studies, Middle Eastern studies, international affairs, and comparative and international education.

Her term as vice president began Oct. 28, just after the close of the AIMS annual board meeting, and runs for three years. She is charged with chairing the association’s grants committee and, together with the other officers of the association, serving as a member of the organization’s executive committee to direct the organization more centrally. She will also be involved in other committees and affairs of the organization.

The grants committee annually awards highly competitive fellowships to conduct field research about North Africa in the countries of Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Warshel previously co-chaired the organization’s conference committee and its Overseas Research Centers (ORC) COVID affiliation letters committee. For the former, she helped adjudicate funding to proposals for annual conferences in North Africa, and for the latter, continues to update fellowship requirements and protocols pertaining to fieldwork amid COVID-19. She also served multiple times prior to that on the grants and conference committees.

Established in 1984, AIMS, an affiliate organization of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), is the principal professional organization for U.S.-based scholars interested in North Africa. (The “Maghrib” refers to Northwest Africa in Arabic). It is a private, non-profit educational organization that works to facilitate research in North Africa and to encourage the free exchange of information between American and North African scholars. Its purview covers Morocco Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya.

An international organization and member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), AIMS administers ORCs in Algeria and Tunisia: the Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines en Algérie (CEMA), and the Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT). In Morocco, AIMS is represented by its affiliate partner, the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies.

AIMS sponsors the flagship Maghrib studies journal, the Journal of North African Studies (published by Francis and Taylor), the annual L. Carl Brown book prize, Mark Tessler student paper prize, and I. William Zartman travel award. It also offers rich networking opportunities for scholars and mentorship for graduate students.