Social Science PhD Listings

Doctoral Students

Abdul-Qadir, E.

El-Java Abdul-Qadir -

El-Java Abdul-Qadir is a Social Science PhD student with academic and professional experience in urban entrepreneurship and economic development. In addition to his studies at Maxwell, El-Java holds a full time position as Director of the South Side Innovation Center, an entrepreneurial project of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, where he develops and administers programs for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in the Greater Syracuse Region. El-Java’s research interests include entrepreneurial motivation and the socio-political factors that influence business growth and economic development, particularly amongst marginalized populations.  

Poonam Argade_120

Poonam Argade -

Poonam is interested in interdisciplinary research in small cities- urban and peri-urban spaces in western India using mixed methodologies. Prior to this, she studied her Masters in Development & Planning from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India.  She engages with Transnational and Dalit- Bahujan feminisms; and attempts to draw on scholarship across Women’s & Gender Studies, Sociology, Anthropology and Human Geography. She is also pursuing a Masters degree in Sociology from the Maxwell School. 

Avdic, Elvis

Elvis Avdic -

Elvis Avdic′  will focus his broader research on the intersection of immigration/refugees, entrepreneurship, and technology.  Elvis would like to study the social and economic development of immigrants who pursue technology start-ups, what barriers they face (immigration policies, socially constructed barriers of stigma, racism, social adaption, etc.) and what supports they leverage in overcoming these barriers.

Bokayev, Baurzhan

Baurzhan Bokayev -

Baurzhan Bokayev's research interests include migration and education policy, ethnic and language identity of migrants, and issues of adaptation and integration of returnees into the local society.  Baurzhan holds a PhD from Kazakhstan in the field of linguistics and an MPA from Cornell University. Prior to his graduate studies at Maxwell, Dr. Bokayev was a professor and the dean of the National School of Public Policy of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.   

Brennan, Mariah

Mariah Brennan -

Mariah Brennan received her Bachelors degrees in Political Science and Anthropology at the University of Connecticut in 2016.  While studying political science, Mariah interned for Congresswoman DeLauro in Washington, DC.  She pursued her Masters in Public Administration while completing a research fellowship with the Connecticut Democrats.  Her experience in local and national politics combined with her background in policy research has inspired her to closely examine veteran policies through a public health and policy lens.

Brown, Austin M.

Austin Brown -

Austin McNeill Brown has a Bachelors degree in psychology and a Master's degree in social work.  Mr. Brown is interested in the study of substance use disorder recovery through the multidimensional processes involved in achieving psychosocial wellness and stability.  He is interested in the relationship between existential meaning-making and various recovery support systems.

Cory Michael Cali -

Cory is a first-year PhD student in the Social Science Program.  He holds a J.D. from Syracuse University's College of Law, and a master's degree in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.  Cory Michael Cali, Esq. is the legal advisor to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the former General Counsel of DevTech Systems.  An attorney in New York and Virginia, Cory has previously worked in litigation and risk management.  He also has experience in both program management and program evaluation having worked across a wide selection of Department of State bureaus and USAID Missions. 

Castleberry, Samuel

Samuel Castleberry -

Sam Castleberry received his Master of Theological Studies in 2012, and a Master of Arts in Sociology of Religion in 2014.  Sam's work focuses on queer ethnography and theories of memory within mid-sized cities, with a particular emphasis on ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

Cheng, Kent

Kent Cheng -

Kent is interested in the economic implications of the aging population.  Prior to enrolling in the PhD program, he worked as a health policy researcher in the premier health sciences center in the Philippines.  Some of his notable involvements in research of nationwide scope include the cost-effectiveness of dengue vaccination, cost-effectiveness of influenza vaccination, and the modelling of viral hepatitis burden. 

Croce, Nicholas

Nicholas Croce -

Nicholas' research examines the nature of economic mobility in the United States.  He is fascinated by the repercussions of postmodern technology on capitalism and social interaction.  Nicholas is a graduate of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University (MPP in Social Policy, Poverty Alleviation), as well as Nazareth College and Monroe Community College.

Gallagher, Natalie

Natalie Gallagher -

As an academic, artist and activist, Natalie Gallagher is moved by experiences of collective resistance and the collective unconscious.  She received her M.A. ('19) in Dispute Resolution with a Graduate Certificate concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies from Wayne State University, as well as a B.A. ('15) in International Relations from Grand Valley State University.  Now a Social Science PhD student at Maxwell, her research interests include social change, feminist theory, and the pedagogy of revolt.  She seeks to make post-disciplinary contributions and understandings to the praxis of counter-hegemonic resistance.

Gardner, Samuel L.

Samuel Gardner -

Sam is interested in researching how the emergence and dominance of social media platforms and mass online data have helped reshape communities, daily life and relationships.  One question he would like to explore is what kinds of narratives people create and tell to explain and capture the pervasiveness of digital technology in everyday life.  He received his master's degree in Human Development at Cornell University where he studied the links between close relationships, health and stress.

Helander, Emmy

Emmy Helander -

Mary “Emmy” Helander received her Bachelor’s in CIS and Math from the State University of New York at Potsdam, and Master’s and PhD degrees in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from Syracuse University and the State University of New York at Buffalo respectively.  Mary was a Senior Researcher and Software Architect at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center.  Mary returned to graduate study at Syracuse University so that she could redirect her skills in data and network science, problem solving, and IT to study societal issues through the pursuit of a PhD in Social Sciences.  Mary is interested in:  research that explores topics in public health and its intersection with emergency medical services; social inequity in health care, education and employment and how it effects the elderly; and social science research methodology.

Kazbekova, Darzhan

Darzhan Kazbekova -

Ms. Kazbekova has an MA degree in International Relations, and a PhD in International Relations.  Her most recent work position was as a Deputy Director of the Institute for Applied Research, Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.  Darzhan's research interests are focused on environmental policy formation, stakeholder analysis, and theoretical frameworks of policy analysis in the case of Kazakhstan.

Ms. S. Samanta Lee

S. Samanta Lee -

Samanta Lee's research focuses on patient engagement in healthcare and how healthcare professional assess the quality of recommendations generated by consumers during activities that engage state and lay actors in commissioning, designing, delivering, and/or assessing public services.  

Melissa Lopoo

Melissa Lopoo -

Melissa Lopoo began her studies in the Social Science PhD Program in 2017.  Her work explores the historical, social, and cultural implications of American college athletics.  Her interests include commercialism, amateurism, social justice issues, and the prevalence and impact of predominant football cultures, particularly in the American South.

Piston, Daniel

Daniel Piston -

Daniel Piston is a part-time Social Science Ph.D. student, with a full time position as a Program Evaluation Manager at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. He currently holds two degrees from Syracuse University, an undergraduate degree in Health and Exercise Science (2016) and a Master of Public Administration degree (2018). Prior to attending his undergraduate studies, Dan served for six years in the United States Navy as an Aviation Rescue Swimmer and Helicopter Crewchief, deploying four times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn and Operation Unified Response. Dan plans to use his dissertation to explore the use of behavioral economics in the public sector.

Adelaide Rosa

Adelaide Rosa -

Adelaide is interested in developing an understanding of how collective sense of place interacts with decision-making and environmental justice outcomes. Adelaide plans to investigate how Onondaga Lake's complex and contested watershed is understood, interacted with, and conceptualized in very different ways by diverse co-located communities. She completed a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 2016, and holds Bachelors degrees in Political Science and International Relations from the University of California San Diego.

John Wolohan

John Wolohan -

Attorney John Wolohan is a professor of Sports Law in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University.  He is one of the lead editors of the book ”Law for Recreation and Sport Managers” by Cotton and Wolohan, as well as being the author of the “Sports Law Report” a monthly article that appears in Athletic Business.  He is interested in sport law; sport doping, antitrust and labor law, image rights; rights of athletes.


Shiyang Xiao -

Shiyang is a doctoral student in Social Science Ph.D Program since 2017. Before coming to Syracuse, she received her master's degree from the School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, China. Her major research interests include policy process studies and inter-organizational cooperation. She believes inducing collaboration among different social sectors  will help achieve better governance. 

Ms. Dongmei Zuo

Dongmei Zuo -

Dongmei Zuo plans to examine inter-generational relationships over the life course, family dynamics, and elder care from both policy and cultural perspectives.  Her prior research of economics and family relationships has pointed to strained circumstances that lower the morale and cause depression among seniors.  She seeks to improve understanding of these issues and how they might be affected by policy.