Student Fellows

Fellows associated with the center, from American University and elsewhere, participate in the life of the center by helping organize events, supporting the journal Political Analysis, and participating in research endeavors. We welcome requests from the greater campus community of students who are interested in various elements of data science.

Graduate Student Fellows

Abdullah Yasir Atalan

Abdullah Yasir AtalanAbdullah is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Government at American University. He studies comparative politics, political methodology with concentrations in civil-military relations and regime-types in the Middle East. His research focuses on the nexus of coups and military purges. Methodologically, he focuses on measurement models and latent traits that are not directly observable in the International Relations field. He is also interested in power analysis using Monte Carlo simulations. Abdullah also works as an editorial assistant for Political Analysis Journal. Prior to attending American University, he earned a BA in Political Science at Bogazici University, Istanbul, and completed his MA in Middle Eastern Studies at King's College, London.

Tianyu Chen

Tianyu ChenTianyu is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the School of Public Affairs of American University. His research agenda centers around nonprofit and public management. He focuses on collecting unconventional data using machine learning and natural language processing tools and applies them to the field of social science. His studies involve advanced statistical modeling techniques including Bayesian multilevel modeling using Markov-Chain Monte Carlo simulation. He is also an independent researcher and author for the Local Public Sector Alliance in Washington DC. Prior to his doctoral study, he earned his MPA and MS in Environmental Science degrees from Indiana University Bloomington.

Youjia Chen

Youjia ChenYoujia Chen is a second-year MS in Data Science student at American University. Her research interests are survey analysis using machine learning and AI-powered Natural Language Processing algorithm and advanced survey analysis, including cluster, factor, text, and sentiment analysis. She is working as a research assistant with Dr. Jeff Gill. Before joining American University, she achieved a BA in Political Science with two minors in Global Studies and Communication and Media Studies.

Finn Dobkin

Finn Dobkin HeadshotFinn is a first-year student in the MPP at the School of Public Affairs. His research interests are in healthcare enrollment and access, as well as characteristics of communities that experience high levels of financial shocks and debt. Before moving to Washington, DC, he worked for the Stockton Mayor’s Office on various housing and community development initiatives, including childcare expansion, workforce training for public housing residents, and green economy planning. He also spent time at UCSF, researching barriers to behavioral healthcare access amongst individuals with chronic serious mental illness. Prior to attending American University, he earned his BS in Economics at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

Ximing Dong

Ximing Dong HeadshotXiming Dong is a first-year MA in Political Science student. His research interests are in political methodology and comparative politics, including authoritarian regimes and censorship, and mathematical and statistical modeling. Before joining American University, he achieved a BS in Mathematics from Illinois Wesleyan University and spent one year at University of Alberta as a math graduate student. If he did not choose to go to math graduate school back then, he would probably be in a Master of Fine Arts in Photography program.

Bethany Leap

Bethany LeapBethany is a third-year PhD student in the School of Public Affairs, with concentrations in Justice and Political Methodology. Her research interests lie in the areas of political violence and terrorism, specifically in understanding the drivers behind violent extremism and radicalization. Her research focuses on developing, applying, and improving quantitative and computational methods for studying political violence, particularly in the areas of measurement error and missing data. Prior to beginning her doctoral program at American University, Bethany received a BA in Global Studies from Gardner-Webb University.

Caitlin Moroney

Caitlin Moroney HeadshotCaitlin is a second-year MS in Data Science student at American University. Her research interests include machine learning, natural language processing, and fair AI. She is currently working with Dr. Zois Boukouvalas on a misinformation detection project, and she is conducting research on fairness in machine learning with Dr. Richard Ressler. She previously completed a BA in Economics with a minor in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.

Monica Puerto

Monica Puerto HeadshotMonica is a Data Scientist at AFSCME, the largest union for the public sector. She is a master's candidate for American University's Data Science program and will graduate in May 2021. She also enjoys giving talks at tech meetups in the DC area. She is an avid user of Python and R and thinks they can coexist harmoniously. When she is not working she is planning her next international trip with her husband. 

Selim Yaman

Selim YamanSelim is a Political Science Ph.D. Student at American University's School of Public Affairs, specializing in political methodology and comparative politics with a focus on text analysis and machine learning. Substantively, his research focuses on political violence and military coups. In addition to serving as a fellow in the Center for Data Science, he is also an editorial assistant for Political Analysis and works with Professor Jeff Gill. Before starting doctorate study at American University, he did masters at SOAS, University of London on the political economy of development and achieved BA in economics from Bogazici University, Istanbul.

Xinyuan Yang

Xinyuan YangXinyuan is a PhD student in the Department of Government at School of Public Affairs. She studies political methodologies and comparative politics. Her primary research interest is in applying Bayesian method to public opinion and survey studies in the context of the US and Europe. She also interested in studying political institutions and political economy of development using experimental method and causal inference. She is currently an editorial assistance for Political Analysis and work directly with Professor Jeff Gill. Prior to her doctoral study, she received her MS in data analytics at American University and she earned a BA degree in political science at UW-Madison.

Venkata Dhanush Kikkisetti

Venkata Dhanush Kikkisetti profile pictureDhanush is a current Masters in Data Science student at American University. His studies on bringing different computer science technologies and work on Antisemitic posts. He is currently working under Professor Nathalie Japkowicz. His primary research is on exploring different Advance NLP and Machine Learning techniques for classifying into different Antisemitic tropes. He came up with fine tuning of Bert model for the classification, later his research is shifted to extract and monitor the ephemeral Antisemitic expressions, which are rapidly shifting from extremist groups to general audience, using Artificial Intelligence. He is also working as Teaching Assistant and the Vice-President of American Statistical Association student chapter at American University. He did his Bachelors in computer science from MRCET- JNTUH, India.

Undergraduate Student Fellows

Akhil Bandreddi 

Akhil Bandreddi HeadshotAkhil is a junior at American pursuing degrees in Applied Mathematics and International Studies. His research interests include international security, social choice theory, political behavior, data security and privacy. Over the past few months, he has become increasingly interested in statistical analysis, mathematical modelling and their applications to political behavior, and is looking forward to pursuing those interests.

Collin Coil

Collin Coil HeadshotCollin Coil is a freshman studying economics, mathematics, and data science in the American University Honors Program. His participation in Model United Nations throughout high school led to his interest in investigating the impact of international economic agreements. His other research interests include deep learning and mathematical finance. As a self-taught R programmer, Collin has produced his own research and contributed to the statistical analyses of other researchers. Outside of the Center for Data Science, Collin is a member of the American University Analytics Club.

Olivia Freides

Olivia Freides HeadshotOlivia is a junior at American University pursuing a B.S. in Statistics with a minor in Economics. Her research interests include chaos theory, game theory, and machine learning, specifically in deep learning. With these, she’s always looking for ways to adapt data science to her other interests like environmental sustainability, climate change, and econometrics.

Joshua O'Steen

Josh OSteen HeadshotJosh is a junior pursuing degrees in Political Science and Statistics with a minor in Data Science. While in the AU Scholars Program, he conducted research with Professor Daniel Kerr related to homelessness in Washington, D.C. Recently, he worked as a Political & Research Fellow for political consulting firm Blue Compass Strategies, where he worked extensively with election data. His research interests include statistical analysis of legislative and citizen voting data to better understand ideology and voting behavior. 

Cheyenne Smith

Cheyenne SmithCheyenne is a junior studying Data Science and Political Science. While she was not a fan of math in high school, after taking a Stat-202 class, she renewed her passion for math. Over the course of the summer, she taught herself R and developed a deep interest in linear regressions. She hopes to be able to use her data science skills in the future to study topics related to social justice and queer theory. In addition to being a Fellow at the Center for Data Science, Chy is involved in multiple organizations and programs across campus including AU’s Honors Program, AU PRIDE, and Women’s Initiative.

Max Robins

Max Robins HeadshotMax is a sophomore at American University studying Political Science and Data Science. Hailing from Long Island, New York, he has experience with political campaigns and advocacy groups, and is interested in social issues ranging from domestic child marriage and gun violence to electoral issues, such as voting rights and minority group disenfranchisement. In addition to serving as a Fellow in the Center for Data Science, Max supports a statistics course as a Supplemental Instruction Leader in the Academic Support and Access Center.


Kaylhan Garcia

Kaylah GarciaFrom Galveston, Texas, Kaylhan Garcia is a junior studying Data Science for Justice, Law, and Criminology. After attending the Latinas in Tech summit in New York City, she felt inspired to pursue a career in the tech industry. In pursuit of enhancing her understanding of data science and artificial intelligence, Kaylhan dedicated her summer to a transformative cultural immersion and educational experience in Cape Town, South Africa. There, she successfully completed an intensive 6-week bootcamp and foreign internship, gaining valuable insights into real-world applications of her knowledge. Kaylhan's diverse range of interests includes social justice issues, human rights, video game development, tourism, and cultural immersion. She is driven by a passion to create equitable opportunities for underprivileged Latinos, aiming to bolster their presence and growth in their desired professions.