Melis Laebens is a PhD candidate in the political science department at Yale University. Her research focuses on executive aggrandizement and democratic backsliding. Her dissertation project is a comparative analysis of presidents and prime ministers who try to perpetuate themselves in power. she attempts to explain why certain executive leaders successfully remain in power while others loose elections, fail to extend their term limits or are removed irregularly. For her dissertation research, she conducted fieldwork in Turkey and Ecuador, where she interviewed politicians, journalists and experts to understand how Erdogan and Correa succeeded in creating support for and passing institutional reforms to increase their powers. Previously, she also conducted research on clientelism in rural areas of Colombia, where she resided for several months, and on voting behavior in Turkey. She is a co-founder of the Northeast Working Group on Turkish Politics, a collective of graduate students whose research focuses on Turkey. Before coming to Yale, she studied Economics and Political Science and International Relations at Bosphorus University in Istanbul. She speaks Turkish, French, Spanish and German in addition to English.