You are here: American University School of Public Affairs PhD Programs Current Doctoral Students

SPA's PhD curriculum is designed to provide doctoral students with the skills to effect immediate impact.

With expertise spanning public management, global health governance, regulatory policy and more, our PhD candidates bring the research tools and academic rigor to advance scholarship in their respective fields and educate the next generation of public affairs leaders.

Public Administration PhD Students

Michele Aquino

Michele is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration & Policy. He focuses on policy analysis, especially related to the natural environment. Primary research interests include the polit

  ma6936a@american.edu

Christopher Burks Adjunct Instructor SPA | Public Administration

Christopher Tyler Burks (he/him) is a visiting assistant professor of political science at Samford University. At American University Burks is a Charles Levine Doctoral Research Fellow in public admin

  cb0533a@american.edu

Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy and a Research Assistant at the Metropolitan Policy Center. He specializes in how urban politics and governance af

  cc8353a@american.edu

Michelle Castleberry

Neko Michelle Castleberry is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests include policies regarding sexual and reproductiv

  mc0837a@american.edu

Tianyu Chen Adjunct Instructor

Tianyu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration & Policy and a fellow at the Center for Data Science of the School of Public Affairs. His research interests include public and non

  tc4634a@american.edu

Katherine Engel

Katie is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration & Policy. Her research interests include socioeconomic disparities in wellbeing and the role of the social safety net in their reduc

  ke7802a@american.edu

Victoria Gibney

Victoria Hunter Gibney is a doctoral student in American University's Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include social policy, social safety net/financial assistan

  vg7211a@american.edu

Kathryn Grossman Adjunct Instructor

Kathryn is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include public and nonprofit management and education policy. She is a qualitative researc

  kg0238a@american.edu

Jessica Horst Adjunct Instructor

Jessica is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include early childhood education (ECE), ECE labor markets, and education policy. Prior to her do

  jh3608a@american.edu

Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests include environmental, health, and technology policy.

  kj5677a@american.edu

Madeleine Maylath

Madeleine is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research focuses on the social safety net in the United States.

  mm3415a@american.edu

Grant Mobley

Grant Mobley (he/him) is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. His research interests include public management, bureaucratic discretion, and orga

  gm8050a@american.edu

Alvaro Munguia

Alvaro Munguia is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Alvaro's research interests include immigration policy and education policy. His current research is focused

  am2791a@american.edu

William Prince

Will is a doctoral candidate and Charles Levine Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. His research interests include public personnel management, citizen-gove

  wp7117a@american.edu

Tingli Qu

Tingli Qu is a current PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests include public finance, fiscal performance, fiscal transparency

  tq1939a@american.edu

Alexandra Rakus Adjunct Instructor

Alexandra Rakus is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy with a concentration in public policy. Her research interests are within health policy broadly and include o

  ar2951a@american.edu

Ashley Scott

Ashley Scott (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy with a concentration in public policy. Her research interests include equitable community and spatial deve

  as8619a@american.edu

Lilli Shaffer Adjunct Instructor

Lilliandra's primary area of study is in nonprofit organizations, specifically foundations. She is also interested in public administration theory and philosophy. Prior to attending American Universit

  js4358a@american.edu

Sarah Solomon

Sarah Solomon (she/her) is a Ph.D. student and Charles Levine Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the American University School of Public Affairs. Her re

  ss1612a@american.edu

Samantha Strong

Samantha is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy with a concentration in public policy. Her research interests include gender equity, health policy, and the use of

  ss8375a@american.edu

Political Science PhD Students

Ali Amini

Ali is a Ph.D. student concentrating in political methodology and the comparative politics of the Middle East. Methodologically, he is interested in causal inference, political data science, and the e

  aa6718a@american.edu

Evyn Anderson

Evyn is a PhD student at American University with a concentration in American Politics.  She is interested in gender equity and specifically how gender equity at home impacts parity in larger social,

  ea9328a@american.edu

Abdullah Atalan

Abdullah is a PhD student at American University. He studies comparative politics, political methodology with concentrations in civil-military relations and regime-types in the Middle East. Abdullah w

  aa7174a@american.edu

Mehmet Yasin Bozkus

Yasin is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Government, specializing in comparative politics and political methodology. His research focuses on the politics of nationalism and ethnicity, ethnic conf

  mb1928a@american.edu

Ryan Detamble Adjunct Instructor

Ryan M. DeTamble is a Ph.D. student in American Politics. His research focuses on questions of American political behavior, especially those related to public opinion, voting, partisanship, and polari

  rd2788a@american.edu

Marcus Johnson

Marcus is a 4th year PhD student at American University. His research focuses on racial competition, political behavior, and social identity in American politics. Some of Marcus' current research proj

  mj8154a@american.edu

Ellen Kamalyan

Ellen Kamalyan is a 2nd year Ph.D. student at American University. She studies Comparative Politics and American Politics with research focuses on religious and ethnic violence and intergroup contact

  ek5837a@american.edu

Megan Kurten Adjunct Instructor SPA | Government

Megan Kurten is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Government and a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Politics. Her research domain is political violence, particularly the relationships and intera

  mk6179a@american.edu

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer is a PhD student at American University. She studies American politics with a concentration in racial and ethnic politics, specifically the political behavior of Latinos in the United States.

  jl0049a@american.edu

Kristen Munnelly

Kristen is a first year doctoral student in the political science program. She is interested in how philanthropy affects policy in the United States and beyond, as well as media coverage of this and r

  km1567a@american.edu

Keun Young Oh

Keun Young Oh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at American University. His research interests include climate change, political methodology, foreign aid, and energy conservation po

  ko4106a@american.edu

Cindy Ragab

Cindy Ragab is a PhD student at American University. She studies comparative politics with a focus on the nexus of governance, the political economy of development, climate and conflict resolution. Ci

  cr8549a@american.edu

Wali Reheman

Wali Reheman is a doctoral student in the Department of Government at American University. He studies comparative politics and political methodology with a concentration on ethnic politics, political

  rw8143a@american.edu

Daniel Steiman Adjunct Instructor SPA | Government

Daniel Steiman is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government, with concentrations in Comparative Politics and International Relations. His interests include political violence and civil wars, wit

  ds5121a@american.edu

Dakota Strode

Dakota is a PhD student at American University. He studies American and comparative politics with concentrations in LGBTQ politics, political behavior, public opinion, and campaigns and elections.Dako

  ds4090a@american.edu

Mark Tenenbaum

Mark is a third year PhD student at American University. He studies American politics, with interests in religion and politics, racial and ethnic politics, and political behavior. Some of Mark’s curre

  mt2082a@american.edu

Karl Vonzabern

Karl VonZabern is a Ph.D. student in the political science department with a specialty in comparative politics and methods. His research focuses on the politics of climate change adaptation and mitiga

  kv2717a@american.edu

Qingya Xu

Rita Qingya Xu is Ph.D. student at American University. She studies Comparative Politics and American Politics with focuses on political communication and public opinions, particularly on social media

  qx4850a@american.edu

Selim Yaman

Selim is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government, with concentrations in political methodology and comparative politics. His research interests include natural language processing with a foc

  sy6876a@american.edu

Xinyuan Yang

Xinyuan is a PhD student in Political Science. She studies political methodology and comparative politics. Her research interests include using Bayesian method to study public opinion and political be

  xy4066a@american.edu

Justice, Law & Criminology PhD Students

William Arnold

William Arnold is a PhD student in the department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University. He is interested in questions concerning the formation, interpersonal dynamics, and linguistic

  wa6687a@american.edu

Michael Becker

Michael H. Becker is a doctoral student in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology in the School of Public Affairs. His research interests include the individual and group correlates of suppor

  mb2236b@american.edu

Elizabeth Carlisle

Elizabeth C. Carlisle is a doctoral student in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology in the School of Public Affairs. In 2020, she received three Bachelor of Arts degrees in Criminology, Law &

  ec3695a@american.edu

Natalie Chwalisz Adjunct Instructor

Natalie Chwalisz is a PhD candidate at the School of Public Affairs, in the Justice, Law and Criminology Department. She focuses in on human smuggling, mixed migration and forced displacement.In her f

  chwalisz@american.edu

Sara Harmouch

Sara Harmouch is a Doctoral Candidate at American University. She is a Lebanese national and defense policy researcher specializing in state and violent non-state actors' behaviors, asymmetric warfare

  sh5958a@american.edu

Melissa Kilmer

Melissa is a Ph.D. student in American University’s Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology. She received her B.A. in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Delaware in 2022, with

  mk2815a@american.edu

Bethany Leap

Bethany Leap is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology, focusing on her research interests of radicalization, extremist behavior, and quantitative methodology. Her curren

  bl9593a@american.edu

Charlotte Lopez-Jauffret Adjunct Instructor

Charlotte Lopez-Jauffret is pursuing a doctoral degree in Justice, Law & Criminology from American University. In 2015, she received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Colorado

  cl5929a@american.edu

Marcus McGhee

Mr. McGhee is an Ethics & Compliance Attorney. His research focuses on judicial ethics, misconduct proceedings, and the impact both have on society and due process doctrine. Before relocating to D.C.

  mm0963a@american.edu

Alyssa Purdy Adjunct Instructor SPA | Justice, Law & Criminology

Alyssa Purdy is currently pursuing a PhD in Justice, Law & Criminology with a secondary focus in Public Policy. She received her Master of Science degree in Justice, Law & Criminology from American Un

  ap9576a@american.edu

Ashley Schroeder

Ashley Schroeder is a doctoral student in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology in the School of Public Affairs.Her research interests include gender based violence, alternative responses to

  as0945a@american.edu

Moriah Sharpe

Moriah Sharpe is a doctoral student in Justice, Law, and Criminology. She is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of North Carolina and

  ms9416a@american.edu

Candace Strickland

Candace M. Strickland is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina. She is a doctoral student in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology in the School of Public Affairs.Her research interests includ

  cs2037a@american.edu

Alex Swanty

Alex Swanty is a doctoral student in the Justice, Law and Criminology program. She has received her B.A. and M.A. in Criminology/Criminal Justice from the University of Northern Colorado. Her research

  as7515a@american.edu

Jennifer West

JJ West (she/her) is a doctoral student at American University in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology. Her research interests include incels, right-wing extremism, male supremacy, and support

  jwest@american.edu