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Alumni Spotlight: Im Samphoas

Our Spring 2024 Alumni Spotlight is Im Soksamphoas. Read more about Im’s journey from academia to becoming an Associate Director of the MSU Asian Studies Center.

Samphoas is originally from Cambodia and is currently living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is working in East Lansing, Michigan as Associate Director for Asian Studies Center at Michigan State University. She is also an affiliated scholar at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan; a Visiting Scholar, 2023-24 Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Fellow on Southeast Asia at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), Stanford University, and at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore (NUS).

Samphoas graduated and received her PhD degree in Political Science, specializing in public policy, from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in 2021. Her dissertation title is The Politics of Age: An Examination of the Cambodian National Ageing Policy 2017-2030. 

She is currently working on multiple research projects (independent and collaborative) on topics concerning authoritarianism, welfare policy, microfinance and debt, poverty, and the impact of the China Belt and Road Initiative in South and Southeast Asia. Her independent research project focuses on authoritarianism and social welfare policy structure in Cambodia. This independent research is an expansion of her dissertation into a book monograph, which aims to uncover how authoritarian rulers co-opted welfare policies to strengthen their regime politics. 

Samphoas Ph.D. research experience has led to her current work splitting between implementing an Asian Studies program and continuing her own research projects. While she may have ventured out of academia (referring to faculty jobs), she found her current work as an Associate Director with the Asian Studies Center at MSU gratifying as she could still contribute to making an impact on the cause she cares about, which is promoting knowledge and understanding of Asia in the United States through many different channels including language program, events sponsorship, outreach, study abroad as well as research. 

Samphoas is currently working on a book project, provisionally entitled “Authoritarian Resilience: The Politics of Social Protection Policy in Cambodia.” This project is funded by the Lee Kong Chian Stanford University – National University of Singapore Fellowship on Contemporary Southeast Asia.

More details of her work can be found at: 

Fun Fact:
Samphoas enjoys cooking Southeast Asian (especially Khmer food) and venturing out for great coffee!

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