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Recent Ph.D. Placement

Penn State’s Political Science Department is proud of the research and professional training we provide to our PhD students, and they have been very successful in the academic job market upon completion of their degrees.



Below are a few examples of their tenure-track placements since 2006. For a complete record, please click here.

Benjamin E. Bagozzi, Ph.D., 2013, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota

Benjamin specializes in political methodology and international relations. Within international relations, his research interests include international organization, international political economy, and environmental politics.   Methodologically, he teaches and conducts research in limited dependent variable models, finite mixture models, text analysis, big data social science, event data, and rare events.

Here's what Ben says about his experiences:

“My graduate training at Penn State has afforded me the opportunity to succeed as a scholar of political science. In providing broad theoretical training in international relations alongside an extensive array of methods courses, Penn State’s graduate program has enabled me to engage multiple subfields of political science during my efforts to craft a research agenda and an identity as a political scientist. Penn State’s collaborative atmosphere, standard of academic excellence, and emphasis on professionalization are three cornerstones of the graduate program that I hope to uphold in my future endeavors.”

Daehee Bak, Ph.D. 2013, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas Tech University

Daehee is interested in examining the linkage between leadership tenure and international conflict, especially focusing on leaders’ foreign policy incentives and domestic constraints across different regime types. He is also interested in constructing and testing formal models of strategic interactions among leaders and various domestic actors.

Here's what Daehee says about his experiences:

“I believe that Penn State’s political science department is ready to provide enough resources to help its students do their own independent research and prepare for the job market. Faculty members are extremely supportive of students’ projects, and also open to discussion about potential collaboration for further development. The extensive methodological training was invaluable for my own research, and collaboration with faculty helped me learn a lot about how to become a professional political scientist in every aspect. Finally, I cannot thank Penn State's political science department enough for the tremendous support in preparing for the job market.”


John Beieler, Ph.D., 2016, Research Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Human Language Technology Center of Excellence

John’s research focuses on the extraction of political events from news media. Additionally, he works to solve issues relating to the development and deployment of natural language processing analytics at scale. Substantively, he is interested in the use of machine learning, and other methods, for forecasting political events.

Here's what John says about his experiences:

The training I received as a graduate student at Penn State has been invaluable for my career, both in and out of academia. The substantive training I received relating to international relations has proven invaluable when coupled with my methodological and broader research interests. The department was very supportive of my cross-disciplinary interests, and enabled me to take courses from various departments on campus. Taken together, this training has allowed me to craft a productive research agenda that is the culmination of multiple and varied interests from political science and other fields.

Andrew Boutton, Ph.D., 2014, Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Central Florida.

Andrew specializes in international relations and comparative politics. His current research within these subfields focuses on terrorism and cross-national variation in levels and types of counterterrorism, as well as the political effects of foreign and security assistance in the recipient country. His dissertation examined the relationship between foreign aid and terrorism in an effort to uncover the strategic and domestic institutional factors that influence the effectiveness of foreign aid as a counterterrorism policy.  Before arriving at UCF in August 2015, he was a Security Studies fellow at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas.

Here’s what Andrew says about his experiences:

“In my experience, I found the professional and financial support from the political science department to be unequaled among political science graduate programs.  The courses offered provide students with a first-rate graduate education, and the faculty are generous with their time and support outside of class, regardless of one’s substantive or methodological interests. The faculty know what it takes to succeed in the current academic job market and are extremely effective at preparing students for academic careers, providing feedback on papers and presentations and fostering scholarly development by encouraging conference participation and engaging students in joint research projects.  Furthermore, interactions among graduate students are friendly and collegial, making it a pleasant environment in which to pursue a PhD.  Overall, I couldn’t have asked for more from my experience as a graduate student here.”


Jeff Carter, Ph.D. 2011, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Mississippi.

Jeff's research interests lie at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics. He uses statistical and game-theoretic models to analyze the relationships among leader survival, government spending, and interstate conflict and war and state making. Research from his dissertation won the Stuart A. Bremer award for the Best Graduate Student Paper from the Peace Science Society (International).

Here’s what Jeff says about his experiences:

"The graduate program at Penn State does an excellent job training students to be political scientists.  The key to the department's success is that students take rigorous substantive and methods classes from faculty who take a personal interest in their students.  This produces scholars that not only ask theoretically interesting questions about politics, but also possess the methodological tools needed to answer their questions.  Further, this process occurs in a collegial, supportive environment that fosters collaboration both with fellow students and faculty members. As students transition to independent scholars, the department provides generous financial support to present research at academic conferences and assistance with preparing for the job market.  In sum, Penn State is a great place to go to graduate school for political science."


Simone Dietrich, Ph.D. 2011, Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance Fellowship, followed by a tenure-track position at the University of Missouri (beginning Fall 2012)

Simone’s research interests are in international and comparative political economy, with emphasis on institutions, policy, and political methodology. .Her current projects study foreign development assistance and its effectiveness; she is working on developing a general theory about the politics of aid giving among OECD donors and how it has changed over time. At the heart of the theory is the decision-calculus of donors whose goal is to maximize aid success in the recipient country. Specifically, s


he explores donor decisions about how to deliver aid, with possible delivery channels including recipient governments, NGOs, multilateral organizations, and private contractors. Her argument posits that outcome-oriented donors opt for delivery channels that increase aid effectiveness ex ante: while they prefer to cooperate with governments in countries with good governance, they bypass governments in poorly governed aid receiving countries. Her research also shows that donor selectivity in aid delivery channels reduces poverty in developing countries, as measured by infant health.

Here's what Simone says about her experiences:

"My graduate studies in the Department of Political Science at Penn State prepared me well for becoming an independent scholar. Its emphasis on the scientific study of politics, coupled with excellent methodological training in quantitative methods, allowed me to acquire the tools necessary to pursue my own research. It also does a great job of guiding students in their professional development and fosters interaction and collaboration between students and faculty."

Vito D'Orazio, Ph.D., 2013, Postdoctoral fellow at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science followed by a tenure-track position at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Vito's research and teaching interests are in international relations and political methodology. He studies military cooperation, international and intra-state conflict, conflict forecasting, crowdsourcing and text analysis methods for data collection, measurement, event data, and data privacy.

Here's what Vito says about his experiences:

"As a graduate student at Penn State, I was able to learn from and work with faculty who are on the edge of the research frontier. The department supports conference travel, summer programs, practice talks, and other activities that are an essential part of preparing for the job market. If given the opportunity to select my graduate school again, I'd pick Penn State."

Lee Hannah, Ph.D., 2015, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wright State University

Lee's research focuses on state and local politics. His work examines the construction and diffusion of state policies. More specifically, his work examines medical marijuana policy and examines its evolution, its larger role in the current debate over drug legalization, and the federal-state and state-state tensions that arise from such policies. He is also working on a large project with his PhD advisor, Eric Plutzer, on how politics affects the teaching of climate change. At Wright State he teaches courses on state politics, Ohio government, polarization in American politics, and the legislative process.

Here's what Lee says about his experiences:

"The Department of Political Science at Penn State provided a first rate education with scholars at the top of their fields who are also gifted teachers. While the program is rigorous, the faculty and staff are accessible and genuinely interested in your development as a scholar. The collegial environment provided a number of coauthoring opportunities with faculty and fellow graduate students, many projects that continue to this day. In my new job, I am thankful every day that I was trained at Penn State."


Daniel J. Mallinson, Ph.D., 2015 Assistant Professor at Stockton University

Dan is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Political Science at Stockton. He also supervises the state and local internship program. His current research focuses on multiple aspects of policy adoption in the American states. The largest project is based on his dissertation that examines the body of evidence generated over the last 25 years surrounding policy diffusion, the macro-level evidence in support of the unified policy diffusion model, and how the correlates of diffusion are unstable across time and throughout the diffusion lifecycle. The main goal of the project is to evaluate the policy diffusion research program in its approach and resulting body of evidence to identify fruitful avenues for moving the research program forward. Dan is now turning to developing experiments to test the causal mechanisms underlying diffusion, as well as deeper policy work in the areas of medical marijuana, income inequality, and mass incarceration.

Here’s what Dan says about his experiences:

“The faculty and students at Penn State were crucial to my development as a scholar. The training I received, both methodological and theoretical, was excellent. Faculty worked to train students not only formally in the classroom, but also informally through collaboration. My experience was elevated by the intellectually sharp and friendly students that supported each other during the journey. The department also supported opportunities for outside training and professional development. Finally, the department was supportive of students developing as good teacher-scholars, not just as researchers.”


Kathleen (Katie) Marchetti, Dual Ph.D., 2013, Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota

Katie a member of the American Politics faculty at Minnesota and also teaches in the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of gender and politics, interest groups, political representation, and state politics. Katie is currently working on a book-length project that is based on her dissertation study of over 200 advocacy organizations active in 14 states across the U.S. This project focuses on the ways in which advocacy organizations in the U.S. states represent disadvantaged individuals in their policy agendas and state political processes. In addition, Katie is working on several article-length studies focused on topics ranging from interest group influence on U.S. national policy to advocacy groups' lack of attention to women's issues and the spread of HIV-AIDS among minorities in the U.S. states.

Here's what Katie says about her experience:

“Penn State provided ample opportunity for my development as an interdisciplinary scholar and teacher. One of only a few universities in the country, Penn State offers a dual doctoral program in political science and women's studies. This dual degree option makes the program ideal for an individual who has research and teaching interests that span across academic disciplines, and was one of the primary reasons I chose Penn State for my Ph.D. I received strong methodological training in both political science and women's studies and have utilized multiple methods  in my scholarly research.  Penn State also provided me with many opportunities for teaching and pedagogical development that aided my transition from student to professor. Ultimately, the financial and scholarly support I received allowed me to tailor my time in graduate school to fit future career goals.”

Jessica Maves Braithwaite, Ph.D., 2013, Assistant Professor of International Relations, The University of Arizona

Jessica's research and teaching interests include the causes and consequences of civil war (and civil conflict more broadly), institutional explanations for civil conflict, authoritarian and democratizing regimes, the politics of sub-Saharan Africa, and the diffusion of civil conflict within and across borders. She is working on two data collection projects.  The first project is a global study of political party bans in the post-WWII world. The second project involves gathering information on characteristics and activities of political parties in Africa, in order to facilitate group-level study of violent behavior by these parties and their supporters.

Here's what Jessica says about her experiences:

"The political science department at Penn State was the perfect place for me to pursue my graduate degrees.  As someone who arrived with minimal training in quantitative methods, I received unparalleled support both in the classroom and beyond from the faculty and more experienced graduate students.  Professors are very accessible and willing to provide invaluable advice on a multitude of topics from research questions and teaching approaches to succeeding on the job market and beyond.  The grad student environment is great as well, with plenty of collegiality and friendships within and across cohorts.  There are ample opportunities and resources to develop your research agenda as an independent scholar as well as to gain experience coauthoring with faculty and other students."


Douglas Rice, Ph.D., 2013, Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi

Douglas Rice studies American politics, with a focus on courts, as well as politic

al methodology. In his dissertation research, he examined the cross-institutional agenda-setting role of federal courts as well as influences from, or on, the behavior of judges, litigants, and interest groups. As part of this and other research, he utilizes a variety of natural language processing, machine learning, and computer science methods for automated content analysis.

Here’s what Doug says about his experiences:

“In my experience, the Department of Political Science at Penn State provides an outstanding environment for graduate studies. The department does an excellent job preparing students for careers in academia, providing excellent and rigorous core substantive and methodological training as well as offering, and encouraging the pursuit of, unique opportunities for development. The faculty takes a direct interest in students as scholars, with common collaborations on research and frequent efforts above-and-beyond what could rightfully be expected. In all, the department offers a collegial and friendly setting with top-notch training and professional preparation.”

Jakana Thomas, Ph.D., 2012, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.

Jakana Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at Michigan State University. Broadly, her research focuses on civil war conflict resolution. More specifically, she is interested in how rebel group characteristics influence the dynamics of conflict, particularly settlement. Her dissertation project examined how government concessions to rebel group demands affect settlement in civil wars. Some of her other projects examine the effect that implementing concessions has on the likelihood of conflict recurrence, the determinants of women’s participation in violent insurgencies, and the effect anticipated third party support has on conflict onset in civil war.

Here’s what Jakana says about her experience:

“I cannot imagine a better place to have completed my graduate studies than Penn State’s Political Science department. The department has incredibly high expectations of all of its students and provides the resources students need to meet and surpass these expectations. In addition to the excellent substantive an

d methodological training, students also benefit greatly from the department’s focus on professionalization. Aside from the offered coursework, individual faculty members put a great deal of time and effort into ensuring the department produces not only good graduate students, but also successful scholars and professionals. The faculty set a great example, as everyone in the department is research active and very productive. Faculty are also very involved in their student’s research. The department does a great job of simultaneously supporting independence and individuality, and ensuring no student gets lost or left behind due to a lack of guidance.”

Matthew Wilson, Ph.D. Spring 2015, Assistant Professor at West Virginia University

Matthew Wilson is an Assistant Professor at West Virginal University. Scholars have pointed out a need in the ongoing work on authoritarian institutions to cultivate a focus that is more sensitive to how institutions form and change.  In sup

port of this effort, my research is concerned with institution-building and political trajectories. My focus on comparative political institutions aims to develop concrete explanations for the causes and processes of state development, based on expectations regarding individual agency, costs and benefits, and incentive structures.  One goal of comparative institutional research is to identify and conceptualize institutions in authoritarian regimes. In some of my research, I compared extant typologies of authoritarian regime types to identify their strengths and weaknesses with regard to measurement validity.  My research also supports the use of institutionally similar 'types' to explain the relationship between institutions and political outcomes—such as terrorism and expropriation—which is a second goal in institutional research.  There is also a renewed focus in the literature on the temporal mechanisms and pathways by which institutions affect outcomes. To this end, my research focuses on developing novel methodologies for testing arguments about the sequential impact of institutions and events. His teaching philosophy emphasizes looking ''under the hood'' inscholarship and developing practical, critical inquiry in the classroom.As an educator, the skills that I consider the most important to convey to students include understanding foundational concepts in the discipline and using them as a platform to construct novel, testable questions.  The strategies by which I have encouraged foundational learning involve exposing students to dense material and demonstrating its real-world significance.  By encouraging students in my class to combine existing arguments and refine their own, I have been able to help students identify avenues for research and encourage them on their own research agendas.  At the same time, teaching has helped to reinforce my personal research interests and helped me to improve as a scholar.  My perspective has been shaped by the effective teaching styles of professors who were both patient and firm, and it is driven by my personal passion for making research more accessible and transparent.  I try to show the same concern for learning that my professors have shown me.  As a result of working with students on difficult material and showing them the practical applications, students learn to how ask—and then answer—meaningful questions.

Here’s what Matt says about his experiences:

"Prior to attending the graduate program at Penn State, I had little understanding of professional norms and few of the skills necessary to succeed.  The faculty in the political science department at Penn State showed serious dedication to helping me succeed--they engaged me as an academic, all the while providing firm guidance and paying attention to the more nuanced details of academic life.  As a result, the training that I received encompassed much more than theory, analysis, and academic writing; it included communication, networking, and professionalism.  I attribute much of my professional successes specifically to the graduate program and aim to incorporate the same concern for both student and person in my interactions with graduate students in the future."

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