SPA's doctoral students are equipped with the skills to have immediate impact.
With expertise spanning public administration and policy; political science; and justice, law, and criminology, our PhD candidates bring the knowledge and action necessary to make great impact in the field of public affairs. Each of them are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of scholarship to new heights, educating the next generation of public affairs leaders, and researching the significant issues of the day.
Erik Alda is a PhD student in Justice, Law and Criminology at American University. From 2001 to 2003, he lived in the slums of Fortaleza (Ceará), Brazil where he worked with an NGO on issues related to crime, violence and safety. In the past ten year… More
Maya Barak is a PhD candidate in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology, with a dual concentration in the sociology of the law and criminology and an emphasis on qualitative methods. Her research brings together the topics of law, deviance, … More
Currently a Ph.D. candidate in Justice, Law and Society at American University. Also works as a social science (geospatial) analyst at the National Institute of Justice. Background in statistics/econometrics, methodology, and policing.
Katie Hail-Jares is a research associate at Georgetown University and a PhD candidate in Justice, Law & Criminology at American University. Her research centers on the intersection of criminal, or otherwise socially deviant, behavior and public healt… More
Kris Lugo is a PhD student in Justice, Law, and Society at American University. Her research interests include human trafficking, transnational and organized crime, and criminal justice institutional development in comparative perspective. Kris serve… More
Keith L. Williams has over 20 years of experience in private security and municipal law enforcement. His policing career has included stints in patrol operations, recruiting, homicide investigations, and at the executive level focusing on risk manage… More
Chris Birdsall is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. His research interests include higher education policy, performance measurement and other issues relating to public management. Prior to his studies at American Un… More
Chengcheng (Aviva) Liu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Aviva has published two comparative studies focusing on US and Chinese governmental performance management, accountability, and tr… More
Nadeen Makhlouf holds a PhD in Public Administration from American University. Her research interests include global governance and comparative public policy and administration with a focus on North Africa and the Middle East. It also revolves around… More
Yusra Shawar, MPH is an advanced doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research concerns global governance, political agenda-setting, and health policy. Her dissertation explores the role… More
Matthew Vanderschuere has a PhD in Public Administration from American University and an M.P.A. from the University of Colorado-Denver. His research interests include human resource management, leadership, and employee motivation within public organi… More
Katie Vinopal is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include education, health, and safety net policies and administration, especially as they relate to social inequality. After receiving her … More
Rebecca Yurman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include regulatory policy, contract management and other issues in public management, federalism, and food safety policy. She is also an a… More