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, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, India, Korea, and Pakistan. Their academic backgrounds include economics, engineering, international relations, and urban planning, along with public administration and policy. 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. 


Rhea Acuna

Rhea Acuña 

Email

Westland, Michigan

University of Michigan (2008), BA in Economics

Carnegie Mellon University (2014), MS in Public Policy & Management

Rhea's research interest emerged from past work experiences with people- and place-based strategies in poverty alleviation.  She aims to further explore this dichotomy and research how interactions between people and place shape poverty. She will be working with Professors Sarah Hamersma and Katherine Michelmore.

Prior to attending Maxwell, Rhea worked within the economic development and social policy fields in various analytical capacities:  Research Analyst at Reinvestment Fund, Senior Research Analyst at The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, and Economic Analyst at the State of Michigan's Bureau of Labor Market Information.


Graham Ambrose(1) 

Graham Ambrose

Muskego, Wisconsin

University of Minnesota Twin Cities , BS in Science Technology, and Environmental Sciences

Graham is interested in studying the formal and informal groups in our food system that make policy decisions collaboratively, and how these decisions ultimately shape measurable economic, social and environmental outcome


Catherine Annis





Catherine Annis 

Email 

Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State University (2016), BS in International Affairs

Florida State University (2018), MPA in Public Administration

Prior to attending Maxwell, Catherine worked on a National Science Foundation project studying Smart City initiatives as a researcher for Florida State University. Catherine also managed the Public Policy Group for the DeVoe Moore Center at Florida State. In 2017, she interned with the Office of Minority Business and Economic Development at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Catherine's research interests include public sector innovation, collaborative governance, and organizational networks. Her work explores the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as tools for citizen engagement, workflow management, and coordination. She is particularly interested in multi-sector collaboration and is currently looking at this issue in the context of veteran community care networks.

Emily Cardon

Emily Cardon

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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

Ziqiao Chen

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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

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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.

Clay Fannin 

Clay Fannin

Morehead, Kentucky.

University of Kentucky (2020), Master of Public Policy

Clay's research interests broadly encompass social welfare programs and poverty policy. Specifically, he is interested in the consequences of means testing on participation in the social safety net and preferences for redistribution. Clay was employed as a Policy Analyst at The Council of State Governments where he worked on a variety of topics, ranging from occupational licensing to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  


Jeehee Han

Jeehee Han

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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.

Abdela Hilo 

Abdela Hilo

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Jimma University, Ethiopia, BS in Pharmacy

Arbaminch University, Ethiopia, MPH

Syracuse University, MPA 

Abdela Alte has over ten years of working experience both in government and nongovernmental organizations. While working as head of South Omo Zone health department, he designed strategies and effectively implemented various health programs with greater emphasis on developing health infrastructure, increasing community awareness by health education, improving maternal health, reducing child death, and decreasing the spread and resulting death from communicable diseases. As a head of the health department he took the leading role in transforming the health condition of pastoralists and marginalized people in the zone. Currently, he is working as lecturer at the department of management and vice president for administration and student services in one of the public universities in Ethiopia.

Dae-Woo Kim

Dae-Woo Kim

Email

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.

Jiho Kim 

Jiho Kim

Los Angeles, CA.

Seoul National University (2020), Master of Public Administration

Seoul National University (2018), BA in Political Science and Economics 

Jiho's research interests include collaborative governance, civic engagement, policy design, local government, and nonprofit management. Prior to attending Maxwell, Jiho worked as a research assistant at the Community Wellbeing Research Center, Seoul National University and at the Korea Research Institute of Local Administration (KRILA).   


Mattie Mackenzie-Liu 

Mattie Mackenzie-Liu

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. 


 

Mohammed Qasim Mehdi

Mohammed Qasim Mehdi 

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Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore University of Management Sciences (2014), BA - History

Syracuse University (2017), MPA 

Qasim studies carbon policies, collaborative governance, climate change mitigation and adaptation. His concentrations are in environmental policy and public management. Qasim works with Peter Wilcoxen and Tina Nabatchi int he Center for Policy Research.                 

Nicholas Oesterling 

Nicholas Oesterling 

Greensburg, IN.

University of Dayton (2020), Master of Public Administration

While at UD, Nicholas worked as a research assistant for the University of Dayton Business Research Group (BRG). His work with the BRG primarily focused on policy and program evaluation for local and regional initiatives seeking to improve access to, and the quality of, early childhood education. While earning his MPA, he also completed a university fellowship examining compliance motivations and behaviors across regulatory contexts. These experiences together with academic studies and service activities in sustainable planning and development have cumulatively led to interests in institutional analysis, policy design, behavioral interventions, and choice architecture.

Brian Ohl_web

Brian Ohl

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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.

Laura Rodriguez 

Laura Rodriguez Ortiz

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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.

Hannah Patnaik

 

Hannah Patnaik

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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



Lauryn Quick 

Lauryn Quick

Indiana University Bloomington, BA in Journalism, Political Science, Sociology

Lauryn worked as a nonprofit manager for a major market United Way in Central Indiana. She has held additional roles as a research assistant for Indiana University's Sociology Department and as a policy intern for United Way and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Broadly speaking, Lauryn's research interests are in the areas of social policy, program evaluation, and public-nonprofit partnerships in the social sector. She is excited to continue working with Professor Colleen Heflin in the Center for Policy Research.  




Chris Rick

Chris Rick

Email

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.

 

Spencer Shanholtz

Charlottesville, VA.

Virginia Tech, Master of Urban and Regional Planning

Virginia Tech, BS in Geography and Environmental Science

Spencer's interests are in Urban Policy, with specific interest in access to opportunity and housing policy as a platform for improving multiple regional issues, such as education, economic wellbeing, health, etc.  He spent some time teaching high school with Teach for America in Nashville, TN before returning to Virginia Tech for his MRP. Spencer has worked for George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis and the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. 


 

Sarah Souders

Plymouth, MI. 

University of Wisconsin Madison (2020), Master of Public Administration

Prior to matriculating to Syracuse University, Sarah worked for the Institute for Research on Poverty at UW-Madison, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the Ohio Department of Education. Sarah is interested in social policy, and plans to study the political economy of education and its impacts on student outcomes. She is also interested in performance evaluation and intergovernmental relations.


 

Anna Wiersma

Holland, MI.

Valparaiso University, BA (Honors) in International Economics & Cultural Affairs, Spanish

American University of Paris, MA in Public Policy and International Affairs

University of Oxford, Certificate in International Humans Rights Law

Anna is interested in studying care policy and unremunerated care labor, as well as the future of work and redistributive social programs. For the past six years, Anna has been working as a Policy Analyst in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s Global Relations Secretariat in Paris, France. There, she was one of the lead authors of a benchmarking study on policies to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Nara Yoon 

Nara Yoon

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Seoul, Republic of Korea

Yonsei University (2011), BA in Public Administration

Yonsei University (2013), MPA in Public Administration

Nara's research focuses on nonprofit and public management, and often draws on other areas such as health policy and social media technology. Her dissertation investigates questions related nonprofit board interlock, which occurs between organizations when they have overlapping board members. In my work, I specifically examine how these board interlocks emerge and how they influence the diffusion of various governance policies. Prior to graduate school, Nara worked for a foundation on program evaluation where she designed and evaluated the education services program for secondary schools and nonprofit organizations.


Myriam Gregoire-Zawilski 

Myriam Gregoire-Zawilski

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Myriam's research interest is in the field of environmental/energy policy, more specifically on sustainability transitions in the developing world. At Maxwell, she will be working under the supervision of Professor David Popp. Myriam's M.Sc. research focused on the political economy of soybean value chains in Brazil, where she conducted field research and was a junior research associate at the Research Lab on Political Behaviour, Institutions and Public Policy (University of Brasilia, Political Science Department). Prior to joining Maxwell, Myriam worked at the OECD Development Centre, in the Partnerships and Networks Unit, and at Canada's International Development Research Centre, where she was a program management officer in the Technology and Innovation group. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Myriam also worked as a reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Francophone network. Myriam speaks French, English and Brazilian Portuguese fluently and is working towards improving her command of German. 


Bo Zheng 

Bo Zheng

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Tsinghua University, China, Bachelor of Engineering (2008)

Syracuse University, MPA

Bo Zheng is a first-year PhD student in the Maxwell School’s Public Administration and International Affairs Department. His research interest is in how technological change impact social inequality, by way of changing the nature of human jobs. He considers his love for technology his biggest hobby and he plays with his 3D-printer at home. Bo taught debate for nine years before beginning his studies at Syracuse. Born and raised in the freezing northeast of China, he feels very much at home in Syracuse.