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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Department of Public Administration

Current PhD Students

Students pursuing the Ph.D. in Public Administration at the Maxwell School bring a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Current students hail from the United States (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah), Canada, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, India, and Korea. Their academic backgrounds include economics, engineering, English literature, history, and political science.  Despite their varied backgrounds, they share an intellectual interest in public administration and policy analysis and a drive to become the top scholars and teachers in their fields.

Dana Balter 2017 

Dana Balter


Stamford, Connecticut

Northwestern University (1999) 

University of Connecticut (2003) 

Dana received a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University where she studied Theater and Communication Sciences and Disorders.  After several years working for a nonprofit organization that provides services to adults with cognitive disabilities, she received her Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Connecticut where she focused on education policy and finance.  Now she is a PhD candidate with concentrations in Public Finance and Nonprofit Studies.  Dana is interested in questions that arise at the nexus of the public and nonprofit sectors, where public and private actors coproduce public services.  She is particularly interested in the implications that those coproduction relationships have for core public administration values such as equity and democratic accountability and for public finance arrangements.  Her dissertation examines the accountability relationships between and among the public and nonprofit sectors and the citizenry in a school district-wide public non-profit education reform partnership.



Emily Cardon


Farmington, Connecticut

Boston College (2008) BA – International Studies.

Syracuse University (2013) MPA – Public Administration. 

Prior to her graduate studies at Maxwell, Emily worked for Congressman Jim Himes in Washington, D.C., ultimately serving as Legislative Assistant.  Emily’s research interests focus on health policy. She works with Professor Leonard Lopoo in the Center for Policy Research. 


Ziqiao Chen


Beijing, China

University of Rochester (2014) BA – International Relations and Economics. 

University of Pittsburgh (2016) MPA – Policy Research and Analysis.

Ziqiao developed his research interest in energy and environmental policy since he was an intern at the European Parliament. Prior to attending Maxwell, Ziqiao studied in Rochester and Pittsburgh and provided research support for projects on EU’s emissions trading scheme and shale gas policy in China. He is exploring the role of emissions control policy in driving innovations of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology in the industry. Ziqiao works with Professor David Popp. 

Yoon-Jung Choi

Yoon-Jung Choi


Bloomington, Indiana

Seoul National University, BA in Political Science (2012)

Indiana University, MPA in Public Financial Administration (2017)

Yoon-Jung's research interests are in the areas of public finance and budgeting, public financial management, and public economics. Within these fields, she focuses on research that involves public debt and taxation. Yoon-Jung will work with Professor John Yinger. 


Emily Gutierrez


Fort Worth, Texas

Baylor University (2011) BBA - Economics, Spanish, & Public Administration.

Baylor University (2014) MS - Economics

Before beginning her graduate studies at Maxwell, Emily was a Teach for America 2011 corps member and a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Her research interests include education, welfare, and inequality policy issues


Jeehee Han


Seoul, South Korea

Northwestern University (2014), BA - Economics and Sociology.  

Columbia University (2016) MA - Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences.

While studying economics and sociology at Northwestern University, Jeehee interned at the US Department of Education for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. She also worked as a research assistant at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development after starting her Master’s program at Columbia University. Now she is a PhD student with concentrations in Social Policy and Public Finance. She is interested in research questions spanning the areas of education, housing and welfare.

Suyeon Jo

Suyeon Jo


Seoul, Republic of Korea

Korea University (2011) BA - Public Administration and Political Science.

Texas A&M University (2014) MPA - Public Management. 

Her fields of specialization include citizen participation, collaborative governance, and public and nonprofit management. While studying at Texas A&M University where she served as a graduate assistant, she worked on a research project that investigates nonprofit organizational performance and the scope and growth of the nonprofit sector in Texas. Outside of academia, she loves traveling to countries around the world. 

Dae Woo Kim

Dae-Woo Kim


Seoul, Republic of Korea

Korea University (2003) BA - Public Administration.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010) - Master of Human Resources & Industrial Relations.

Interests - public management, nonprofit management, human resource management. Dae-Woo works with Professor Soonhee Kim in the Campbell Public Affairs Institute. 

Yusun Kim

Yusun Kim


Seoul, Republic of Korea

Korea University (2011) BA - Economics,

Seoul National University (2013) Master of Public Administration.

Yusun's research interests include intergovernmental fiscal relations and determinants of fiscal consolidation. She works with Professor Yilin Hou in the Center for Policy Research.

 Hyoung (Jay) Keun Kwon

Hyoung (Jay) Keun Kwon


Seoul, Republic of Korea

Swarthmore College, BA in Mathematics (2015)

Seoul National University, MPA in Public Administration (2017)

Hyoung Keun’s fields of interest include public budgeting/finance and network theory.  Prior to joining Maxwell, he worked as a research assistant at the Center for Government Competiveness at Seoul National University.  Hyoung will work with Professor Yilin Hou

Michelle Lynn Lofton

Michelle Lofton


Houston, Texas

Trinity University (2011), BS- Business Administration and Economics.

The University of Georgia (2013), Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Public Budgeting and Finance Administration. 

Michelle is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Public Administration and adjunct lecturer. Her research and teaching experience largely focus on public finance and management with fields of specialization in (1) public finance, budgeting and financial administration, and (2) social policy. She has research interests that broadly explores the intersection of public finance and public management by investigating financial tools and techniques to better inform management, strategy, and policy decisions. With a passion for learning, she serves as a researcher engaged in expanding her knowledge in public administration and persistently striving to educate others. Her dissertation chair is Professor Yilin Hou in the Center for Policy Research.

Brian Ohl

Brian Ohl


Greene, New York

Ithaca College (2003) BA – Philosophy and History  

Cornell University (2005) MPA – Environmental Policy 

Prior to attending Maxwell, Brian spent over seven years working at the New York City Office of Management and Budget, most recently as the Assistant Director of the Infrastructure Task Force, where he and his team oversaw/prepared the budgets of a number of agencies/institutions including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the three New York City library systems, and the Department of Cultural Affairs.  His research focuses on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and he works with Peter Wilcoxen and David Popp in the Center for Environmental Policy and Administration. 


Hannah Patnaik


Boston University (2014),  Masters in Economics and a Bachelors in both Economics and International Relations

Since then she worked at Boston Biomedical Consultants as a market research analyst, and following that, as a Junior Business Partnerships Consultant at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.  Hannah's research interests include sustainable development and public health policies in developing countries. Outside of academia she loves to travel and read


Jaclyn Petruzzelli


Philadelphia, PA

St. Joseph's University (2011), BS – Psychology 

College of William & Mary (2013), MPP – Public Policy 

Jaclyn's research focuses on organizational social evaluation concepts including organizational reputation. Her dissertation seeks to provide conceptual clarity in that area and to test how those concepts affect the relationship between organizations and stakeholders by drawing on theory and informing management strategies. While completing her dissertation, Jaclyn is working as a Research Assistant for the Congressional Research Service.   


Laura Rodriguez Ortiz


Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Laura is working with Professor Len Lopoo in the Center for Policy Research. She is a Fulbright scholar from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where she studied Economics in the Pontificia Universidad Católita Madre y Maestra. Before coming to Maxwell to pursue a joint degree in Public Administration and Economics she worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in projects related to poverty reduction in her home country. During her second year in Maxwell she worked for the Say Yes Foundation as a Research Assistant. She is interested in using behavioral economics and quantitative methods to address questions related to education, family welfare and immigration.  

Raghav Puri Photo 112px 

Raghav Puri



St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi (2009), BA (Honours) in Economics

Tsinghua University, Beijing (2010), Exchange Student

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (2011). MPP

Research Interests: Program Evaluation, Social Policy, Development Policy

Raghav has been working with the World Bank in India since 2011. During this period, he worked closely with various state governments in evaluating and improving the implementation of social protection programs such as non-contributory social pensions, health insurance, subsidized food and public works.  He enjoys primary research and has been volunteering as a field investigator for surveys of social protection programs in India with academics and researchers every summer since 2007.

 Chris Rick

Chris Rick


Waldorf, Maryland

University of Maryland (2009), BA - Economics

City College of New York (2016), MA - Economics

After graduating from UMD, Chris worked as a researcher for Battelle Memorial Institute. He has studied the economic impact of air cargo shipments and co-written various reports for the US Department of Transportation, including Freight Facts and Figures and Transportation Statistics Annual Report. While studying to earn an MA in economics at City College, Chris taught Principles of Microeconomics to undergraduate students. He is interested in how public policy can improve all aspects of urban life. Chris will work with Professor Amy Ellen Schwartz.

  Alvaro Salas

Alvaro Salas


Costa Rica

INCAE Business School, (BA – foreign affairs & law; MBA). 

Cornell University (2014), MPA 

While at Cornell, Alvaro served as a researcher at Cornell University for the Policy Analysis and Management program and the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy.  He was the first Latin American to serve as President of the Cornell Public Affairs Society. He became a Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of Presidency and Congress in Washington DC, was inducted into Phi Alpha Alpha national honor society for public affairs and management, and was the recipient of Cornell’s Adams Award for exemplary scholarship and service in the field of public affairs.  He has previous experience as a business development officer in corporate law firm, as a general manager of an insurance company in Panama and as an academic consultant and researcher for the Interamerican Development Bank, Grameen Creative Lab, a major Latin American private equity firm and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York City, Division of Public Administration and Development Management e-government branch assisting the Chief of Staff of the Division.  His work has been published in the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Latin America Report under Innovative Public-Private Partnerships for Inclusive Development in Latin America, the Huffington Post, the Morocco World News, the Cornell Policy Review blog, and in La Nación, a leading newspaper in his home country.  Alvaro's research interests include areas such as: i) Civic Participation (deliberative democracy, participatory systems and collaborative governance) ii) E-Government (e-participation and government 2.0 to better understand organizations participatory dynamics).  Alvaro works with Tina Nabatchi and Ines Mergel in PARCC.


David Schwegman


Granby, Connecticut

BA (2013), Economics and History

MPA (2015), Public Finance  

David's fields of specialization are public finance and social policy, with a focus on state and local tax policy, education policy, and program evaluation.  He works with Robert Bifulco in the Center for Policy Research.

 Iuliia Shybalkina Photo 112px

Iuliia Shybalkina


Kharkiv Institute of Finance (2011), Master of Finance

University of Oklahoma (2013), Master of Public Administration

Iuliia worked as a Fiscal Analyst at the Center for Social and Economic Research CASE Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine) between 2014 and 2015. She started her employment as an Open Society Foundations’ Young Professional Fellow. Among her responsibilities, she conducted research in the areas of fiscal policy, public financial management, and governance. The most impactful project she worked on was The Price of the State Project that received numerous recognitions for its positive contribution to budget transparency and participation in Ukraine.

Iuliia graduated from the University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK) in 2013 with her second Master of Public Administration, after receiving her first Master of Finance from the Kharkiv Institute of Finance (Kharkiv, Ukraine) in 2011. She was selected as a US Department of State’s Muskie Graduate Fellow in 2011. During her student years, she gained invaluable experience as an intern at both the US Congress and the Parliament of Ukraine.

Research interests include public finance (taxing, spending, borrowing, budgeting, intergovernmental financial relations, etc.) as well as new forms of governance (participatory governance, networked governance, electronic governance, etc.).

 Mattie Theobald

Mattie Theobald

Bloomington, Indiana

Hamilton College (2014), MA in Public Policy and Studio Art

Indiana University (2017), MPA in Health Policy and Policy Analysis

Mattie is primarily interested in health policy and related public program evaluation.  Mattie will work with Professors Len Lopoo and Sarah Hamersma.

 Saied Toossi Photo 112px

Saied Toossi

Email  |  LinkedIn

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011), BA in Mathematics & History.

Northern Illinois University (2015), MA in Economics. 

Saied is a Ph.D. student in Public Administration, working in the Center for Policy Research with Sarah Hamersma. He has a broad interest in Social Policy and Inequality and Health and Education Policy, specifically as they pertain to children's development. In the past, Saied has engaged in political campaigning, issue advocacy, and mentoring at-risk adolescents.

Nara Yoon

Nara Yoon


Seoul, Republic of Korea

Yonsei University (2011), BA in Public Administration.

Yonsei University (2013), MPA in Public Administration.  

My research interests include strategic management, contracting out, and government performance in the nonprofit sector. My master’s thesis examined the impact of contracting out on garbage collection services in the local governments of Korea. I work with David Van Slyke.