IRIS Team

Christine M. van den Toorn is the Director of IRIS. She also serves as the Executive Director of External Relations and Policy for AUIS. She has over ten years of academic and professional experience in the Middle East, eight of which have been spent in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). She taught Middle East History at AUIS for four years, and has conducted fieldwork across the KRI and disputed territories. Her work has been published in Foreign PolicyWar on the Rocks, Iraq Oil Report, Inside Iraqi PoliticsDaily Beast and Niqash. Ms. van den Toorn is a member of the Atlantic Council Task Force on the Future of Iraq and contributes regularly as guest speaker to academic and policy events. She speaks Arabic and holds an MA in Middle East History from the University of Virginia. For a list of her publications, please click here.

Jacqueline Parry is the Research Director of IRIS. Dr. Parry holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), and a PhD in international law from the Australian National University, examining post-conflict justice in Liberia and Afghanistan. From 2007 until 2017 she worked in programmatic and research roles for the UN Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration and the International Rescue Committee, in Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Malawi and Afghanistan. She aims to combine practitioner and academic perspectives, and has conducted research on topics such as post-conflict dynamics, governance, justice, security studies and humanitarian response. 

Zainab Hamid Mera is a Program Officer at IRIS. She joined IRIS in September 2017, prior to which she worked with IRIS as a Program Assistant for the 2017 Sulaimani Forum and the post-ISIS security project. She graduated from AUIS in 2017 with a B.A in Information Technology. She is interested in regional politics and technology's role in the future of politics. She speaks native Arabic and fluent English.  

Emily Burlinghaus is a Program Officer at IRIS. She joined IRIS in September 2017, prior to which she worked as a research assistant at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C. Before moving to Iraq, she spent a year abroad in the United Arab Emirates and conducted research at think tanks in D.C., including Hudson Institute and the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in 2015, where she studied Persian and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

In addition to the core team listed above, IRIS works with a broad network of Iraqi researchers who enable us to carry out fieldwork and collect reliable insights from all corners of Iraq. In addition, collaborations with our circle of Visiting Fellows are central to our way of working. Fellows include senior academics, policy experts, journalists and industry professionals. Please see here for our current Resident Fellows and Non-Resident Fellows.