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

Brittany Blizzard

Brittany Blizzard is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include U.S. immigration policy, program evaluation, and mixed methods.

  bb3685a@american.edu

Christopher Burks Adjunct Instructor

Chris is a Charles Levine Doctoral Research Fellow in public administration and policy at American University’s School of Public Affairs and a former Founders’ Fellow for the American Society for Publ

  cb0533a@american.edu

Michelle Castleberry

Neko Michelle Castleberry is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include Reproductive and Sexual Health, HIV/AIDS, Women’s Healthcare, and

  mc0837a@american.edu

Tianyu Chen

Tianyu is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration & Policy. His research interests include nonprofit management, international development, and decentralization and localization. He i

  tc4634a@american.edu

Sarah Chung

Sarah Chung is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of environmental, health, and education policy

  sc9558a@american.edu

Kari Dalane

Kari Dalane is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research focuses on equity in K-12 education. Prior to enrolling at American University, Kari worked in school

  kd5010a@american.edu

Anita Dhillon Adjunct Instructor

Anita is a PhD Candidate and Charles Levine Fellow in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. She researches organizational behavior and its relationship with social equity outcomes in pub

  ad3679a@american.edu

James Ellis Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Education Provost, Office of the

Jimmy Ellis (he/him/his) is the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education. He joined AU in 2011 and leads programmatic, administrative, and curricular assessment for the department, including the livi

  jellis@american.edu

  (202) 885-2240

Katherine Engel

Katie is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration & Policy. Her research interests include health equity and food policy. Prior to her doctoral studies, Katie worked as Director of Pro

  ke7802a@american.edu

Victoria Gibney

Victoria Hunter Gibney is a doctoral student in American University's School of Public Affairs, pursuing a PhD in Public Administration and Policy. Prior to AU, she worked for the University of Florid

  vg7211a@american.edu

Kathryn Grossman

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

  kg0238a@american.edu

Jessica Horst

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

Minjung Kim Adjunct Instructor

Minjung Kim is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests include public and nonprofit management, civic engagement, phil

  mk5083a@american.edu

Laura McMahon Fulford

Laura is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include how agencies are impacted by external influences, bureaucratic discretion, state & loc

  lm5142a@american.edu

Sarah Nielsen

Sarah is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy and a Charles Levine Doctoral Research Fellow. Her research interests include cross-sector collaboration, refugee and immig

  sn3602a@american.edu

William Prince

Will is a PhD student and Charles Levine Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the American University School of Public Affairs. His research interests incl

  wp7117a@american.edu

Alexandra Rakus

Alexandra Rakus is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests are the intersection of inequalities and health outcomes, as well as substance use d

  ar2951a@american.edu

Fei Roberts Instructor

Fei Roberts is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests include public-private comparisons, theories of motivation, governme

  fw9435a@american.edu

Wallis Romzek

Wallis Romzek is a PhD student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include the economic, social, and administrative implications of smart city initiatives, pa

  wromzek@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

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

Carley Weted Adjunct Instructor

Carley Weted is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests include investigations of environmental factors with effects on

  cw3677a@american.edu

Xiaoyang Xu Adjunct Instructor

Xiaoyang Xu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her research interests include representative bureaucracy, public management, and gend

  xx0266a@american.edu

Political Science PhD Students

Le Bao Adjunct Instructor

Le Bao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government, with concentrations in Political Methodology and Comparative Politics. He's also affiliated with the Center for Data Science at AU as a gra

  lb4126a@american.edu

Emily Bello-Pardo

E.D. Bello-Pardo is a doctoral candidate in Political Science at American University, concentrating on American politics and comparative politics with substantive interests in political communication,

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

Michael Heseltine

Michael Heseltine is a doctoral student in Political Science at American University's School of Public Affairs, where he specializes in American Politics. His research focuses on Congressional electio

  mh0234a@american.edu

Simon Heuberger Adjunct Instructor SPA - Government

Simon is a fourth-year PhD student with concentrations in American Government and Quantitative Methods. His research focuses on the psychological underpinnings of public opinion, the advancement of su

  sh6943a@american.edu

Danielle Higgins Adjunct Instructor

Danielle Higgins is a doctoral student in Political Science at American University's School of Public Affairs. She specializes in Comparative Politics, with a secondary field in American Politics. Her

  dh6087a@american.edu

William Jorgeson

Will Jorgeson is a PhD student in the Department of Government. Originally from Clinton, Mississippi, before coming to American University, he received BA degrees in Philosophy and Economics from Miss

  wj6527a@american.edu

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer is a PhD student at American University. She studies American politics and comparative politics with concentrations in racial and ethnic politics, elections in Latin America, and environmenta

  jl0049a@american.edu

Luciano Melo

Luciano Melo is a doctoral candidate researching autocratization processes and the survival of more democratic regions in countries that are becoming increasingly autocratic, especially in Venezuela a

  lm7942a@american.edu

Ifeoluwa Olawole

Ifeoluwa Olawole is a doctoral student in the Department of Government, with concentrations in Comparative Politics and International Relations. She is an ardent student of African politics. Her broad

  io5875a@american.edu

Barbara Soares Lima Dos Santos Adjunct Professorial Lecturer

Barbara dos Santos is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government studying Comparative and Environmental Politics. Her research is focused on the influence of interest groups in climate polic

  bd0526a@american.edu

Dakota Strode

Dakota is a PhD student at American University. He studies American politics and comparative politics with concentrations in LGBTQ politics, Irish politics, women in politics, and political behavior.

  ds4090a@american.edu

Mark Tenenbaum

Mark is a second year PhD student at American University. He studies American politics, with concentrations in religion and politics, racial and ethnic politics, and political behavior. His research i

  mt2082a@american.edu

Justice, Law & Criminology PhD Students

Rachel Bowman

Rachel Bowman is currently a PhD student in Justice, Law, and Criminology. Her primary research interest is the influence of race in criminal justice decision-making. She's currently interested in pro

  rb7722a@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

  chwalisz@american.edu

Avi-Yona Israel Adjunct Instructor

Avi-Yona is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology. Her research interests include philosophy of law, international law, human rights, global ethics, justice and the rule

  ai2393a@american.edu

Bethany Leap

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

  bl9593a@american.edu

Esther Matthews Adjunct Instructor

Esther Matthews is a doctoral candidate in the Justice, Law and Criminology PhD program. She holds a Master of Science in Justice, Law and Criminology, from American University, and a Bachelor of Scie

  em1710a@american.edu

Alyssa Purdy Adjunct Instructor

Alyssa Purdy, originally from West Michigan, is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Justice, Law & Criminology from American University. In December of 2013, she graduated with honors fro

  ap9576a@american.edu

Victoria Smiegocki

Victoria Smiegocki is a fifth year PhD student in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology. Her primary areas of interest include courtroom decision making, social justice, school safety initiativ

  vs5147a@american.edu

Jennifer Tilley

Jennifer Tilley is a Ph.D. student in the department of Justice, Law and Criminology. Her primary research interests include institutional and community corrections, capital punishment, parole and pri

  jt2006a@american.edu

Kristian Warpinski

Kristian Warpinski is a first year PhD student in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology. Her primary research interests include political violence and (counter)terrorism, the recruitment and

  kw5971a@american.edu

Gabe Whitbread Adjunct Instructor

Gabe Whitbread is a doctoral candidate in Justice, Law and Criminology at American University. Her primary research interests are comparative punishment policy and political philosophy. She specialize

  gw0539a@american.edu