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Hire a Ph.D.

  1. Placement Record

Hire a Ph.D.

The University of Michigan's graduate program in Political Science is tremendously proud to present our 2022-2023 job market candidates. Please contact the candidates, their advisors, or Nicholas Valentino, Placement Director, for further information.  

Paul Atwell: Comparative and Public Policy (joint w/ Ford)

Dissertation Title: "Psychological Groundings of Group Mobilization in Clientelist Democracies"

Committee: Noah Nathan (MIT, co-chair), Allen Hicken (co-chair), Charlotte Cavaille, and Ted Brader

Summary: Please check my webpage for detailed information on my research:

Samuel Baltz: Methods and Comparative

Dissertation Title: 

"A direct approach to understanding how electoral systems affect election results"


Walter Mebane (chair); Allen Hicken, Iain Osgood, Scott Page

Jade Burt: American Politics, Methodology

Dissertation Title: "Explaining the Behavior of Congressional Endorsers in Presidential Primaries"

Committee: Ted Brader (chair); Ken Kollman; Josh Pasek; Christian Fong

Summary: For more information about my research, visit:

Chris Campbell: Theory

Dissertation Title: 

"Rhetoric, Plurality, and Political Production"


Arlene Saxonhouse (chair); Elizabeth Wingrove; Lisa Disch; Eric Swanson (Philosophy)


My dissertation, titled Rhetoric, Plurality, and Political Production (defense date: July 20, 2021), argues for a political theory of rhetoric that takes rhetoric as a set of practices aimed at producing solidarities or publics. I argue that these practices necessarily rely on characteristics, identities, and interests of audience members, which are defined through processes of political production (in ancient Greek political thought, the regime/politeia; in modern and contemporary social theory, hegemony). Thinking about rhetoric in terms of the political production of the audience leads us to focus on political struggle, movements, and solidarities, rather than ethical concepts of manipulation or trickery, when theorizing and crafting rhetorical appeals. In developing this argument, I examine a series of sources across the history of Mediterranean, European, and American political thought: ancient Athenian philosophers and rhetoricians, early modern English interventions against scholastic and republican rhetorical practices, Marxist and post-Marxist social theorists, and American labor organizers and activists. The dissertation seeks to establish the claim that rhetoric can create contingent moments of solidarity in contemporary pluralist societies. I therefore conclude that in such societies, we would benefit from a greater emphasis on intentional and well-understood rhetorical appeals, rather than constructing rhetoric as a practice to avoid or ethically constrain.

As a teacher, I focus on making political theory available to students as a space for political intervention. I believe that students should be able to see themselves as political and social agents that understand, rethink, and potentially change their circumstances. Sometimes this means connecting students to foundational texts that help them make sense of today’s politics or provide resources for understanding alternative perspectives. Other times, it means that students need analytical tools, or more experience writing, or other basic support in order to participate in a knowledge community. In any case, I recognize that my students come from a broad range of social and intellectual backgrounds and strive to welcome and empower them in the classroom.

I’ve taught at the University of Michigan, Kalamazoo College, and Albion College, and you can findrecent syllabi from my work at all three institutions at my personal website (

Sydney Carr: American Politics, Race and Ethnic Politics, Gender and Politics, Political Communication

Dissertation Title: "The Right to Bare Arms: News Media, Public Opinion, and Black Women in Politics" 

Committee: Vincent Hutchings and Stuart Soroka (chairs); Angela Ocampo, Nancy Burns, Ann Lin

Summary: Please find information surrounding my dissertation and research at my website:

Erin Cikanek: American Politics, Methodology

Dissertation Title: "The Emotional Landscape of American Media"

Committee: Nicholas Valentino (chair); Ted Brader, Stuart Soroka, Walter Mebane and Christopher Fariss

Summary: For more information about my research, visit:

Sasha de Vogel: Comparative Politics, Methodology

Dissertation Title: 

"Protest Mobilization, Concessions and Policy Change in Autocracies"


Pauline Jones (chair), Mary Gallagher, Anne Pitcher, Dan Slater


Sasha specializes in authoritarian politics, collective action and the politics of the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia. Her research considers how authoritarian regimes respond to protest movements, the conditions in which protesters are promised concessions, and the effect that concessions have on protesters’ ability to sustain activism.

Whereas much of what is known about how authoritarian protest response is based on highly politicized opposition movements that are often repressed, Sasha’s work shifts the focus to protests that demand changes related to social and economic policies, as these protests constitute a significant share of collective action events, even in repressive regimes. She demonstrates that these movements are promised concessions on a regular basis. However, she also shows that those promises are often not fulfilled. In some cases, concessions to protest align with authoritarian governments’ longer-term interests, but in others, the promise of concessions are used to demobilize protesters. In these cases, if protest ends before concession is implemented, the autocrat may renege, or deliberately fail to implement a promised concession. The government can therefore exploit concessions to demobilize protest and ensure stability, without real reform. The prospect of reneging directly affects the behavior of protesters, depending on their level of political knowledge, and their individual cost of protesting. Variation in these factors among protesters can make mobilization impossible to sustain once concessions are promised. Sasha’s dissertation provides a comprehensive theorization of concessions as a strategy of demobilization. She tests related hypotheses using original quantitative and qualitative data on protest campaigns against the government of Moscow, Russia. This research advances our understanding of authoritarian resilience to protest, credible commitment problems, and the effectiveness of protest in achieving policy change in non-consultative regimes.

In 2021-2022, Sasha will be a post-doctoral fellow at the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at New York University, where she is developing a book project. Her research has been supported by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, a Carnegie Corporation-Harriman Institute Research Grants for Ph.D. Students in the Social Sciences, and a Weiser Emerging Democracies Fellowship, among other grants. Sasha can teach courses that focus on comparative politics, the politics of authoritarian regimes, protests and collective action, Russian politics and research design.

Janice Feng: Political Theory, Women's and Gender Studies, and Indigenous Studies

Dissertation Title: "Towards a Decolonial Account of Desire: The Cultivation of Desire and Indigenous Women’s Self-Making and Resistance in Early Modern French North America”

Committee: Liz Wingrove (chair); Murad Idris, David Temin, Greg Dowd

Summary: My dissertation, entitled "Towards a Decolonial Account of Desire: The Cultivation of Desire and Indigenous Women’s Self-Making and Resistance in Early Modern French North America,”" draws on archival materials to examine how the cultivation of desire was central to early modern French imperial ideology, and instrumental to the founding and consolidation of settler-colonial rule in Nouvelle-France (Québec and the Great Lakes area), as well as to Indigenous women’s self-making and resistance in that area. Understanding desire as embodied and affective attachment, I examine the ways in which desire matters in early modern French political ideology and settler-colonial practices. Through a close reading of dramatist Jean Racine’s play/text Iphigénie, I look at how desire is narrated in an emerging imperial ideology that coalesces around the sacrificeability of the foreign woman’s body. Drawing on archival research, I examine how the colonists cultivated desire among those they wished to colonize in order to naturalize colonial domination and produce consent to domination as felt. I also unearth how Indigenous desires challenged and disrupted the settler colonial cultivation of desire, specifically looking at Indigenous women’s embodied practices such as ascetic practices and agricultural labor. By reading these oppositional narratives and practices together, I show that desire was a contested site of political possibilities and imaginaries. Different attachments—to one’s own death/sacrifice, one’s own subjection and domination, or one’s own people, kin, community, and land—were cultivated and practiced to actualize different political goals. I argue that Indigenous women’s relational and communal desire is a preferable alternative against the desire of individual self-possession as theorized by political thinkers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. Such desire, which I call decolonial desire, can serve as a tool of decolonization and enable us to envision an alternative mode of subjectivity formation that is fundamentally grounded in embodied relations and communal attachments. At the same time, the community or polity is not pre-given but is coalesced and continuously reshaped by such desire and embodied practices. I point out how this mode of desire and desiring that can help us move forward from our current political impasse by envisioning an alternative collective political life in which communal and embodied relations are affirmed rather than disavowed. 

I am the 2022-2023 Women's Studies Fellow at the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, and 2022-2023 Richard and Lilian Ives Graduate Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of MIchigan. My work has appeared in the History of European Ideas, Theory & Event, and is forthcoming in Revue internationale de philosophie (2022).

For more information, visit my website:

Yuequan Guo: Comparative Politics, Methodology

Dissertation Title: "Collective Action in Autocracies: The Case of Workers and Strikes in China"

Committee: Mary Gallagher (co-chair); Nahomi Ichino (co-chair, Emory University); Christian Davenport, David Miller (Economics), Xiaohong Xu (Sociology)

Summary: Yuequan Guo is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research investigates two questions: 1) how do ordinary people overcome barriers to collective action and mobilize in autocracies, and 2) what reduces repressive activities by authoritarian states. Specifically, he examines how Chinese workers initiate strikes despite limited external support, how strikes spread in the hinterland of China, and how workers in the hinterland resist pressure from employers in new ways. Addressing the two theoretical questions in the context of China also leads him to study the domestic migration of Chinese workers, which disseminates the knowledge and experience of collective action and changes the cost and benefit of repressive activities for government officials. He approaches these questions with a variety of methods, including formal theory, statistical models, network analysis, and ethnography. For more information, please visit

Hilary Izatt: Comparative, American Behavior, Political Psychology

Dissertation Title: “The Behavioral Effects of Institutional Suppression: Political Inequality, Emotion and Mobilization”

Committee: Nick Valentino (Co-Chair) and Allen Hicken (Co-Chair); Noah Nathan, Elisabeth Gerber and Justine Davis.

Summary: My research explores the psychological responses of voters to undemocratic and suppressive electoral institutions. Through survey experiments, natural experiments, and observational data in the U.S. and Malaysia, I demonstrate the conditions under which suppressive institutions produce demobilization among some voters and counter-mobilization among others. I use methods and theories developed in political psychology to test cases in both the American and comparative contexts. For more information, please check my website:

Timothy Jones: International Relations/Methods

Dissertation Title: "Coercion and Provisions: The Dynamics of Territorial Control and Wartime Aid"

Committee: Jim Morrow (Chair), Yuri Zhukov, Chris Fariss, Kevin Quinn

Summary: For more information about my research and teaching, please visit:

ByungKoo Kim: Quantitative Methods, International Political Economy

Dissertation Title: "Global Value Chains and the Trade Policy Making in the 21st Century: A Three-paper Dissertation"


Committee: Iain Osgood (Co-chair), Kevin Quinn (Co-chair), Yuki Shiraito


Summary:  Please check my website for detailed information on my research:

Sara Morell: American Politics, Political Methodology

Dissertation Title: "Improving the Pipeline: How Women's Candidate Training Organizations Increase Women's Representation"

Committee: Nick Valentino (chair); Nancy Burns, Angela Ocampo, Abigail Stewart

Summary: I'm a PhD candidate in American Politics and Political Methodology, with a focus on gender and political behavior. My dissertation explains why there is so much state-level variation in where women run for political office and win. Prior research has long shown that formal political party institutions are not a key source of women’s candidate recruitment. I argue that women’s candidate training organizations have stepped in to fill this gap, operating in 45 U.S. states and recruiting thousands of women to run for office each year. Through interviews with 57 organizations that recruit and train candidates, I show that women’s organizations are more likely to connect potential candidates with material resources (such as networks, ongoing mentorship and peer community) needed to launch a successful campaign, and that while they engage in active recruitment and address gender barriers to running, both increasing women’s ambition, they’re less likely to discuss racial and ethnic barriers. I then test the effect of these organizations on women’s interest in running – across race and ethnicity -- at the individual level, with a survey experiment, and at the state legislative level, with a difference-in-differences design. More information about me can be found at:

Taha Rauf: Comparative Politics, Ethnic & Religious Politics, Research Methods

Dissertation Title: “Long-Run Effects of Religious Institutions on Development”

Committee: Mark Tessler (co-chair), Lawrence Root (co-chair), Mark Dincecco, Brian Min, Karen Staller

Summary: I am a Ph.D. candidate with a research interest in the political economy of development from a comparative and historical perspective. For my dissertation, I am using village level census data, and a novel dataset constructed from digitized government records, along with fieldwork and archival research. I theorize that decentralized religious institutions led to long-run development by building the state capacity for public goods provision, political participation, and anchoring markets. I provide causal evidence supporting my hypotheses for the Islamic institution of Sufi Khanaqah, which evolved in the Indian subcontinent from the 13th century onwards, and corroborate my quantitative findings with qualitative case studies.

I also research returns to risk-sharing in microfinance groups and the puzzle of lower infant mortality in the poorer Muslim minority in India. My research has been supported by Rackham fellowships and grants (internal) and the Humane Studies fellowship (external). I was a Rackham Predoctoral fellow and Rackham International fellow as well.

Brandon Romero: American Politics; Race and Ethnic Politics

Dissertation Title: "The Politics of Police Protection" (tentative)

Committee:  Charles Shipan (chair); Mara Ostfeld, Vince Hutchings, Kevin Quinn

Hwayong Shin: American Politics, Methodology

Dissertation Title: "Building Bipartisan Trust in Political Fact-Checking"

Committee: Ted Brader (co-chair), Arthur Lupia (co-chair), Brendan Nyhan, Mara Ostfeld, Phoebe Ellsworth

Summary: For more information about my dissertation, research, and teaching, please visit:

David Suell: Political Theory, African Studies

Dissertation Title:

“Temporalities of Struggle: African Political Thought and Contesting the Foundations of Colonial Capitalism”


Lisa Disch (chair); David Temin, Anne Pitcher, Omolade Adunbi

Michael Thompson-Brusstar: Comparative/Methods

Dissertation Title: “Supervision Science: Bureaucratic Control in China from Mao to Xi”

Committee: Mary Gallagher (chair); Jenna Bednar, Pauline Jones, Xiaohong Xu

Summary: For more information about my research, visit:

Logan Woods: American Politics, Methods

Dissertation Title:

"How do Voters Respond When They Can't Vote How They Want?"


Walter Mebane, Jr. (chair), Nick Valentino, Jowei Chen, Stuart Soroka


My three-paper dissertation focuses on how voters react when parties and elections fail at being tools for representation in two scenarios: uncontested elections, and problems voting on Election Day. The first two papers from my dissertation focus on a theory of negative congressional coattails stemming from uncontested races: I propose that candidates down-ballot from uncontested races will suffer electorally from those uncontested races.

The first paper of my dissertation uses survey data and an original survey experiment to assess how voters react when they do not have a co-partisan candidate for Congress for whom to vote. Using the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, I find evidence that Republican voters in districts uncontested by their party are less likely to vote down-ballot, and are less likely to vote for their own party when they do but the same Democratic voters do not seem to exhibit the same patterns. I show that individuals in uncontested congressional districts are less likely to report having been contacted by a political campaign in 2016, and report voting less often than individuals in contested congressional districts.

The second paper of my dissertation evaluates whether the patterns I found at the individual level are detectable in aggregate election results. I use precinct-level election data from 2016, available from the MIT Election Science and Data Lab, to test my hypotheses, and find that state legislative candidates running in contested races down-ballot from a congressional race in which their party did not field a candidate suffer electoral consequences--they can expect anywhere from 20 to 150 fewer votes per precinct, on average depending on the race. These decreased vote totals are enough, in the aggregate, to change the outcome of close state legislative races. In other words, by not contesting congressional races parties are hurting their chances at winning down ballot races as well.

The third paper of my dissertation evaluates how voters react to problems they might face when voting in person. Specifically, I measure how the reasons for poor experiences at the polls might affect how a person votes, and if they intend to vote in the future. If a voter believes that their sub-par experience voting is due to well-meaning election administrators failing to adequately prepare for Election Day, they might become discouraged about local government and therefore less likely to vote in the future. If a voter believes that their poor experience on Election Day is due to nefarious intentions on the part of election administrators, however, it might prompt voters to be more likely to vote in the future out of anger or a desire to preserve their ability to vote. This research is generously supported by the MIT Election Data and Science Lab and its funder, the Madison Initiative of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Htet Thiha Zaw: Comparative Politics, Conflict Studies

Dissertation Title: "Building States within Societies: Repression and Education in British Burma"

Committee: Mark Dincecco (chair), Allen Hicken, Nahomi Ichino (Emory), Dan Slater, Marlous van Waijenburg (Harvard)

Summary: My research and teaching interests are substantively situated in comparative political economy and conflict studies, with a regional expertise in Southeast Asia. In my research, I develop formal models, construct original data from archival research, and combine historical research with quantitative analyses to study the interconnections between indigenous political history, state violence, and state education policy.

My dissertation examines the key conditions that historically influenced state development, specifically how states allocate their resources for physical coercion and education provision under significant and chronic fiscal constraints. I do so within the historical context of colonial states (with a focus on British Burma), where such constraints were especially prevalent when compared to the contemporaneous European states. Each of the three dissertation chapters show that pre-colonial indigenous institutions, which were fundamental in shaping state-society relations, explain the spatial and temporal patterns of state violence and state involvement in education in colonial states. They also form a significant part of my book project that investigates the underrepresented yet important role indigenous society and its relationship with the state played in the long-run development of colonial and post-independence contexts, focusing on Burma/Myanmar.

Outside of the dissertation research and book project, my work studies the history of state-society relations regarding education provision in other colonial contexts as well as the impact of state policy on education outcomes. For more information about my research, visit: