Isa Camyar came from Turkey to Louisiana to earn his PhD, and is now with the UL Political Science faculty, studying international issues. spoke with him recently.

Tell us about yourself.

I'm from Turkey, I came to Louisiana in 2002. I did my PhD at LSU, it took me 5 years to complete. I finished it last August, so this is the end of my first year here. I got married December of 2007, we've been living in Lafayette, but I'll be commuting from Baton Rouge while my wife finishes her PhD in finance. I'm 28 years old, and my specialty is international politics and comparative politics. My dissertation was on policy compliance in the European Union.

What does that mean?

I looked at why or how member states complied with EU policy. Some have succeeded in implementing the policies, some have failed, so I try to explain the difference.

I looked at the partisan aspects, left and right wing governments. For instance, left-wing governments are much more likely to comply with social and environmental policies.

What's something that Americans could use from your studies?

One thing that might interest people here, is about rules that go across international boundaries. For example, if we want the US to comply better with say, environmental rules, the left is probably going to be more responsive.

Tell us something about Turkey that Americans should know.

First of all, Turkey is a fascinating country. It's strategically located, it's a bridge between worlds. It literally spans from Asia to Europe across the Bosporus. Its culture is very closely tied to the Middle East, but because of the reforms of Kemal Ataturk in the early 20th Century, it has moved more toward the West. America has always seen Turkey as a great ally.

So pay attention to Turkey, in terms of democracy, and in terms of being a secular government.

Is it the only secular government in the Islamic world?

Egypt is also secular. Turkey is at the most secular end of the spectrum. But it's matter of degrees.

What research are you working right now?

I'm trying to expand my dissertation into a a book project, so I've been collecting data for that. I'm also studying party competition in European countries, writing a paper about trade, how partisan politics plays into that, particularly mainstream vs. niche parties.

Niche parties?

The greens, the radical right, communists, others. How do the main parties accommodate niche parties? How does that affect trade?

What do you teach?

My first year here, I taught world politics, where we discussed the politics of the most important countries; also Middle Eastern politics, international political economies, and introduction to international relations.

You are also involved with the international students here.

Yes. I'm the only faculty member in Political Science who looks at international politics. So last year we started the ISS, the International Study Society. It's a student organization, the aim of which is to bring all the students together who have an interest in international affairs. This year we invited a couple of people in to talk about international issues.

For next year, we're going to have bigger events. I'm Vice President for UL's Phi Beta Delta, the Society of International Scholars. We will have joint meetings with ISS. We want to invite some experts from other schools, on human rights, the rise of China. We hope to have informal weekly meetings where we'll discuss world events.

What are your impressions of Lafayette and UL?

Before I came here, I had expected a small town. Lafayette is very cosmopolitan, very different from Baton Rouge. The fact that Lafayette has an international music festival says a lot about the character and the vision of people here, and their priorities. I have been very impressed here. Lafayette is small, but very vibrant, rich with culture. People here are very nice, very relaxed. I have really enjoyed my first year here.

Not many people know that Lebanese cooking comes from the Turks.

This is true. There are not many Turkish restaurants, but the Lebanese restaurants offer Turkish food. People don't realize that. Kebab, dolmush [mehsheh]... the Ottomans controlled the eastern Mediterranean, so their culture influenced the region.

But I think we Lebanese do it better.

I disagree.