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The following contains information about our advanced doctoral students and recent Ph.D.'s currently on the academic job market.  These students are seeking Fall 2017 positions.

If you would like more information, please contact the candidates or our Director of Ph.D. Placement, Professor Tracy Osborn.  A candidate’s confidential placement file consisting of curriculum vitae, unofficial transcripts, letters of recommendation, a summary of student evaluation or writing samples may be requested by a prospective employer by contacting our Graduate Program Coordinator.  

  • Headshot of Rouxi Du

    Ruoxi Du, International Relations


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  • Headshot of Kellen Gracey

    Kellen Gracey, American Politics

    Dissertation Title: Religion in the American States: Competition, Context, and Political Consequences


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  • Head shot of Shuai Jin

    Shuai Jin, Comparative Politics

    Dissertation Title: Politics of Economic Inequality in China: Government Propaganda and Public Opinion

    Dissertation Abstract:

    My dissertation examines Chinese citizens' awareness, perceptions of inequality, preferences for redistribution, as well as how the government portrays inequality and how citizens respond to propaganda. I develop a theory that specifies the low-, middle- and high-income groups' perceptions of inequality and reactions to government propaganda. The low-income group is likely to be unaware of inequality or form their attitudes following government rhetoric. The middle class observes the reality and is critical of inequality. The high-income group is ambiguous toward inequality despite their keen awareness of it. Government propaganda persuades the disadvantaged but not the middle class, and elicits superficial support for redistribution from the wealthy. I test my theory by collecting my original data through survey experiments in China. I interviewed 328 participants drawn from the three income classes, with each group randomly split into treatment and control groups. The treatment is a sample of government rhetoric drawn from an actual document. I find that the low-income group believes propaganda, but the middle class becomes more critical under the treatment. The high-income group shows their willingness to comply with the government's populist pledges of increasing redistribution. The results support my theory. My dissertation concludes that propaganda widens the gaps among the social classes and results in serious challenges in the governance of the Chinese government in the future.


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  • Head shot of Kyu Young Lee

    Kyu Young Lee, International Relations


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  • Sojeong Lee

    Sojeong Lee, International Relations

    Dissertation Title: Resource Dependence and Conflict


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  • Head shot of Elizabeth Maltby

    Elizabeth Maltby, American Politics

    Dissertation Title: The Politcal Origins of Racial and Ethnic Inequality


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  • Headshot of Sheri Martin

    Sheri Martin, Comparative Politics

    Dissertation Title: Working title: Is the Reservoir of Political Support Democratic? Cross-national Experiments on Political Support in China and the US


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  • Ray Ou Yang

    Ray Ou Yang, International Relations

    Dissertation Title: The Way to a Dominant International Currency: A Political General Theory and the Prospect of the Renminbi’s Rise

    Dissertation Abstract:

    My dissertation proposes a theory of interstate monetary security. This theory underlines that even if a state has outstanding economic conditions, the international use of its currency will still be limited if other states are worried about security threats. This is because monetary relationships can be exploited for political coercion in interstate disputes. Accordingly, at least one of the two political conditions below should be satisfied so that the currency of a state with strong economic conditions but also substantial security threats to other states can perform a powerful international role. One is if the issuing state makes other states believe that it will not use monetary coercion in its salient disputes with them. The other is if other states are protected by defensive alliances lowering the likelihood of salient disputes with the issuing state. In particular, states with credible property rights protection are more likely to satisfy the first political condition. I tested this theory using my global dataset and a comparative case study. After that, I applied the theory to the case of the renminbi (RMB), China’s currency. My dissertation shows that some institutional mechanisms established by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for political survival are conducive to the increasing international use of the RMB. These institutional mechanisms include the CCP’s intra-party democratization and recruitment of members from private sectors, the government’s fiscal decentralization, and several informal channels for the party to respond to the Chinese people’s demands. The prospect of the RMB’s rise hangs on whether China can keep the rapid economic development and the institutional mechanisms in existence.


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  • Michael Ritter

    Michael Ritter, American Politics

    Dissertation Title: Accessible Voting and Political Inequality: Voting Reform Laws and Reshaping Voter Turnout in the American States

    Dissertation Abstract:

    Why have state convenience voting laws had such a limited impact on voter turnout and turnout inequality? Although same-day registration (SDR) has been shown to have modest effects, data limitations have prevented us from understanding the true effects of these laws, especially on political participation of the poor. Previous research has not used large sample population data to study voting decisions over time and it does not measure the impact of multiple state voting laws simultaneously; overall election system features that include the laws and administration are have also been overlooked. A policy feedback approach is used to develop the concept of state “accessible voting systems.” This concept is proxied by historical turnout, election performance (Pew), and combinations of voting laws. Very large sample survey and population data (2016 Catalist, and 2006-2014 CCES) with millions of individuals are merged with state level data. Panel data and statistical matching (CEM) are used to develop improved models. Results show early voting, largely dismissed in the literature, increases turnout in midterm elections, and even participation by the poor. No-excuse and absentee voting also helps convert the poor into voters in presidential elections. SDR has the greatest effect in increasing overall turnout and the turnout of the poor in midterm and presidential elections. Overall election administration system features matter independently, increasing participation. The study finds state accessible voting laws have benefits for American democracy.


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  • Head shot of Abigail Rury

    Abigail Rury, American Politics

    Dissertation Title: The Diffusion of Precedent Across the American States


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  • Head shot of Yang Zhang

    Yang Zhang, Comparative Politics

    Dissertation Title: Decline of Factionalism in Contemporary China

    Dissertation Abstract:

    Drawing on theories and methods in network science, my dissertation examines the network logic in Chinese leadership transition and anticorruption campaigns. In particular, I am trying to answer the following questions. What is the structural position of each Politburo member in the leadership network? How does power distribution between factions affect their strategies in nominating candidates for future leaders? What is the motivation behind anticorruption campaigns, paralyzing rival factions or increasing political legitimacy? What explains the variation in local anticorruption investigations in response to the initiative of the central government? Given ambiguous criminal laws, what determines the fate of officials accused of corruption?

    My empirical analysis of Chinese leadership turnover relies on the Central Committee Dataset (Shih, Shan, and Liu, 2008). I am also collecting biographical data on the current Central Committee members, and filed cases from anticorruption campaigns.


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