Indiana University Bloomington


Dr. Nicholas Farrelly 

Nicholas Farrelly is a Research Fellow in the School of Asia Pacific Affairs.  Nicholas’ research stretches across the Southeast Asian region and focuses on relationships between government control, spatial organisation and political conflict. He has examined these themes in northern Burma, northeast India and southwest China. While studying these borderland areas he has continued to research, write and lecture about Thailand, a country at the heart of some of his oldest academic interests. In 2006 Nicholas co-founded a website on mainland Southeast Asia called New Mandala. It offers regular analysis of social and political issues in Thailand and Burma, and the other countries of the region. His research is taking on an increasingly comparative flavour as he develops field sites outside the parts of mainland Southeast Asia that he knows best. In his current position he convenes the new undergraduate program in the study of peace, conflict and war. Dr. Farrelly also provides commentary for the Australian and international media, particularly at times of acute public interest in Southeast Asia and its conflicts.

Research Interests:  Southeast Asian politics, comparative Asian policing, Burmese military affairs, Thai society, ceasefires and security in northern Burma, Tai ethno-politics, northeast India, blogging.

Dr. Heidi A. Ross

Heidi Ross is a professor of education and teaches social foundations and comparative and international education courses in the Educational Policy Studies program. Her primary interests include education and schooling in China, and she is director of Indiana University’s East Asian Studies Center.

Research Interests: Heidi has investigated gender socialization, secondary schooling, and environmental education in Chinese schools and the difficulties faced by faculty at China’s private colleges and universities as China experiences an unprecedented demand for higher education. Most recently, she has been involved in two longer-term field based projects. One is a longitudinal study of girls’ educational access and expectations in rural China. The second is a collaborative project with other IU and Chinese colleagues, “Developing National Student Engagement Surveys for Chinese Secondary and Higher Education: Effective Practice for an Era of Mass Schooling.” The project includes implementation of IU-developed surveys that measure student engagement in China’s diverse institutions of higher education.

Interim Co-Director

Dr. Sara L. Friedman

Sara L. Friedman is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Indiana University Bloomington.

Research Interests: Her research has examined the connections between large-scale political processes and intimate life, with particular attention to the place of state power and citizenship in gender identities, intimate relationships, and bodily practices of dress, labor, and sexuality. These interests reflect her interdisciplinary training in sociocultural anthropology, gender studies, and East Asian studies. They also emerge from her experiences living and working in China and Taiwan since the late 1980s.

Associate Directors

Margaret Carlin

Margaret Carlin is a manager of Global Engagement at the Australian National University.

Melissa Biddinger

Melissa Biddinger has more than twenty years experience in international education and programming. Spending more than four years in Malaysia, where she served first as an academic advisor with the IU-MUCIA-Institut Teknologi MARA twinning program and subsequently as program officer for The Asia Foundation, she has a particular interest in Southeast Asia and the ways in which multiethnic societies develop and maintain strong and stable civil societies. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Oberlin College and a master’s degree with honors from The University of Chicago in International Relations.

Graduate Assistant

Kurt Baer

Kurt Baer is a Ph. D. student studying Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington. His research interests include music as cultural performance in Northeastern Thailand, music and tourism,  semiotics, popular culture, and online communities. Prior to joining the Pan-Asia Institute, Kurt has taught courses on music and culture through the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and the Global Village Living Learning Center and worked coordinating events through the IU East Asian Studies Center, the Ethnomusicology Students Association, and the Lotus Arts and Education Foundation. A saxophonist with a background in music performance, Kurt has performed and taught saxophone in the U.S. and Thailand and continues to perform classical, jazz, and popular music both professionally and in his free time.