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BDSS-IGERT Fellow Matthew Denny wins Political Networks Poster Award

Matthew Denny, a BDSS-IGERT Fellow and PhD student in the dual-title degree in Political Science and Social Data Analytics, was named a winner of a best graduate student poster at the Political Networks Conference (PolNet 2017), held on the campus of Ohio State University in June.

The awards are given at the annual summer meetings of Political Networks, a section of the American Political Science Association, for methodological and substantive contributions to the subfield.

Matt's poster was titled "Systemic Risk and the Structure of International Lending."

The Department of Political Science welcomes Dr. Betul Demirkaya


Betul received her Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. She studied comparative political institutions and democratic representation using formal theory, quantitative methods, and computational text analysis. Her dissertation examines the conditions under which opposition parties influence policy outcomes in a way that enhances government responsiveness to voters. Besides Betul's dissertation, she worked on projects pertaining to electoral systems, spatial models of elections, and coalition formation. Her co-authored work about the effect of electoral rules on representation is forthcoming in the British Journal of Political Science.

2017 Stein Rokkan Award

Joseph Wright receives joint award

Joseph Wright was awarded the 2017 Stein Rokkan award in recognition of the book Foreign Pressure and the Politics of Autocratic Survival.

For more information:

The Department of Political Science welcomes Greg Nolan, Advisor

Please join us in welcoming Greg Nolan back as part of the advising team.

Michael Nelson has article posted to SCOTUSBlog

Michael Nelson, along with coauthors Rachael Hinkle and Morgan Hazelton, wrote an article for SCOTUSBlog about their research on collegiality and decisionmaking. The article demonstrates that U.S. Supreme Court justices tend to agree at higher levels as they serve together for longer periods of time. The post is available at:

Department Marshals, Jaden Rankin-Wahlers and Megan Cichocki received the honor of representing the College along with seven other outstanding Political Science/International Politics students chosen as student Marshals for Spring 2017 Graduation.

Megan Cichocki

Megan is the daughter of Tom and Gayle Cichocki of Zionsville, Pennsylvania. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with a B.A. degree in International Politics and a B.S. degree in Economics with minors in German and International Studies. Megan participated in economics and global business research, interned with Morgan Stanley and the federal government, and held leading roles in the Penn State Economics Association. Megan is a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy and studied abroad in Germany. After graduation, Megan will work with the federal government as an economic analyst.
Escorting Faculty Marshal:
James Piazza, Professor of Political Science

Jaden Rankin-Wahlers

Jaden is the daughter of Laine Rankin and Don Wahlers of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with B.A. degrees in Political Science and Criminology with a minor in Religious Studies. As a student, Jaden took a leadership role in combatting the stigma associated with poverty and homelessness in Centre County and in Mexico. She was recognized with the Rock Ethics Institute Stand Up Award and the John S. Oswald Award for her work. After graduation, Jaden plans to attend law school to pursue studies in constitutional law.
Escorting Faculty Marshal:
Michael Nelson, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Isabelle Helmich

Isabelle is the daughter of Bobbi Ann Helmich and the late James Helmich of Ambler, Pennsylvania. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with B.A. degrees in African Studies and International Politics with a minor in Spanish. Isabelle was an art coordinator and managing editor for Kalliope Undergraduate Literary Magazine and participated in Model African Union Conferences. She interned with the Penn State Extension/Teens4Good program and served as the director’s assistant at Camp Onas, a non-profit Quaker camp in Pennsylvania. Next year, following a summer internship with Penn State’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, Isabelle will work in the non-profit sector before pursuing degrees in law and public policy.
Escorting Faculty Marshal:
Clemente Abrokwaa, Senior Lecturer in African Studies

Marlana Bosley

Marlana is the daughter of Kenneth and Rachael Bosley of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with a B.A. degree in Chinese and a B.S. degree in International Politics. Marlana was a research assistant for the Department of Political Science and a marketing intern for the Office of Global Programs. She also served as president of Penn State’s Women in Politics organization as well as a founding member and secretary of the Chinese Major and Minor Association at Penn State. Next year, Marlana will work for Corning Inc. in North Carolina in their BRiTE Rotational Program, which will allow her to work closely with the company’s facilities in Mainland China and Taiwan.
Escorting Faculty Marshal:
Kate Merkel-Hess, Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies

Natalia Ruggiero

Natalia is the daughter of Mario and Fabiana Ruggiero, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with B.A. degrees in Criminology and International Politics with a minor in Italian. Natalia studied abroad in Italy, received the Josephine Rhea Award for Excellence in Italian, and was inducted into the Gamma Kappa Alpha and Pi Sigma Alpha honors societies. Natalia served as a teaching assistant for the Department of Criminology and research assistant for the Association of Religion Data Archives. She was a legal intern for the Sachs Law Group and for Esperanza Immigration Legal Services. Next year, Natalia plans to attend Temple Law School. Escorting Faculty Marshal: Darrell Steffensmeier, Liberal Arts Research Professor of Sociology and Criminology

Erlfang (Eleanor) Tsai

Eleanor is the daughter of Wenpin and Rachel Tsai, of State College, Pennsylvania. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with a B.S. degree in Economics and a B.A. degree in Political Science with minors in French and Francophone Studies and Mathematics. Eleanor participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program and interned in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of the Budget and in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Eleanor founded the Anti-Hunger Games Club, which raises awareness of and provides relief from hunger and homelessness in the local community. Next year, Eleanor will begin her Ph.D. in economics at Yale.
Escorting Faculty Marshal:
David Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Economics

Susan Nahvi

Susan is the daughter of Ahmad and Nancy Nahvi of Chatham, New Jersey. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with B.A. degrees in French and Francophone Studies and International Politics. Susan spent a semester in France, was a foundation relations intern for Plan International USA, and interned for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack. Susan was also an ambassador for Stand for State, a volunteer for Planned Parenthood, an English as a Second Language tutor, and treasurer of the Penn State Martial Arts Group. After graduation, she will work for the Friends Committee on National Legislation as a program assistant for policy on human rights and civil liberties.
Escorting Faculty Marshal:
Jean-Claude Vuillemin, Liberal Arts Research Professor of French Literature

Aviva Doery

Aviva is the daughter of Amy Handmaker and Michael Doery of Monroe, Connecticut. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, she is graduating with B.A. degrees in International Politics and Global and International Studies with minors in History and Jewish Studies. Aviva studied abroad at the University of Freiburg and received the Rodney A. Erickson Discovery Grant and the Rock Ethics Institute Honors Thesis Research Award to support her independent research. Aviva also served as a special events captain for THON and assistant music director for Savoir Faire A Cappella. After graduation, she plans to spend time abroad furthering her education in global studies.
Escorting Faculty Marshal:
Sabine Doran, Associate Professor of Germanic and Slavic Languages

Student Marshal, Department of Geography (College of Earth & Mineral Sciences)
McQuillin Murphy

McQuillin is the son of Kimberly and Kevin Murphy, of Bernville. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, he graduated with bachelor of the arts degrees in international politics and geography with a minor in Chinese. Murphy has served as the president of the University Choir, taken many roles in the International Affairs and Debate Association, and is a Lion Ambassador. He interned with the Council on Foundations global philanthropy program in Arlington, VA and helped to establish and advise the Centre PACT (Philanthropic Actions Created by Teens) program at the Centre Foundation in State College, PA. Following a summer internship with Penn State’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations, Murphy will pursue a career in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector.

Spring Career Workshop

On April 27, 2017, Twenty-three Political Science Alumni and fifty-seven students participated in our Spring Career Workshop. The workshop was held in the Bank of America Career Services Center on campus where individual meeting rooms were used for one-on-one meetings with the Alumni. Students shared their resumes with the Alumni and discussed their future plans.  The Alumni then were able to offer advice on how to build their resumes, and discussed how the students could reach their goals.  We thank everyone who participated in this event and made it a huge success.

Prince Wang, Badis Friaa, Dr. Amy Linch

Mike Pipe, James Gardner

Thane Fake

Christopher Boylan, Ryan McMahon, and Burt Monroe featured in the Monkey Cage.

Graduate students Christopher Boylan and Ryan McMahon along with Professor Burt Monroe were featured in the Monkey Cage.  Their article analyzes the stereotypes of NFL draft profiles, and provide evidence that these stereotypes matter to quarterbacks as they are drafted.  The full article is available at

Congratulations to Megan Cichocki for first place at the Undergraduate Research Exhibition

Congratulations to Megan for wining first place at the Undergraduate Research Exhibition in social and behavioral sciences with her theses research poster: Territorial Control and Group Goals: Why Violent Non-State Actors are Lethal.

Professors Berkman and Plutzer on McCourtney Institute Mood of the Nation poll in Washington Post.

Eric Plutzer and Michael Berkman's analysis of the most recent McCourtney Institute Mood of the Nation Poll was featured in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog.  The poll shows that virtually no Trump voters would vote differently as a consequence of President Trump's tumultuous first weeks in office.  The poll's invitation to voters to speak in their own words helps to explain why.  See their article here.

Professor John Christman will be the Inaugural Director of the Humanities Institute.

John started at Penn State in 1998 as an Associate Professor and was promoted to Professor in 2010. John served as acting or interim head of Philosophy in 2005, 2008, 2012, and again in 2014.  John is a specialist in Social and Political Philosophy, including ethics, and his interdisciplinary breadth will be a real asset to the HI.  His most recent book, The Politics of Persons:  Individual Automony and Socio-historical Selves, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009. John won the Penn State Graduate Faculty Teaching Award in 2013, and the College's Advisor of the Year award in 2011.

Scott Bennett, Distinguished Professor to become the Associate Dean for research and graduate studies.

Scott, who earned his Ph.D. from Michigan in 1993, joined Penn State in 1994 as an assistant professor.  A specialist in international conflict, Scott was promoted to associate professor in 1999 and professor in 2003. On the basis of his excellence in research and teaching, he was named Liberal Arts Research Professor in 2004 and Distinguished Professor in 2008.  Scott served as department head from 2009-14 and before that was the department's graduate program director. He recently has been a leader in the university's reconfiguration of the infrastructure and governance of research computing, serving on the Executive Committee for Research Computing and CyberInfrastructure governance, and serving as its chair for a semester. NSF has supported his work regularly over the years.

Angela Hill recognized for years of service

Angela Hill was recognized for 10 years of service to the College of the Liberal Arts and to the Department of Political Science at the College’s Staff Awards Reception on February 21st. Angela has served as an invaluable resource to the department as our Undergraduate Program Staff Assistant, helping students with all of their scheduling and graduation needs, and assisting faculty with their course scheduling, exams, etc. Thank you, Angela, for helping the department run smoothly and increasing overall morale!

Sona N. Golder's Work Featured in the Democratic Audit Blog

Recent work on electoral rules and voting for women, by Sona N. Golder and co-authors, was feature in the London School of Economics' Democratic Audit blog, found here.

Zaryab Iqbal has been elected as Vice-President of the International Studies Association for the term of 2018-2019.

The International Studies Association (ISA) has been the premier organization forconnecting scholars and practitioners in fields of international studies since 1959. ISA was founded in 1959 to promote research and education in international affairs. With well over six thousand members in North America and around the world, ISA is the most respected and widely known scholarly association in this field. ISA cooperates with 57 international studies organizations in over 30 countries, is a member of the International Social Science Council, and enjoys nongovernmental consultative status with the United Nations. (

Alyssa Gill, 2015 Political Science BA, wins Venture for America Fellowship

Alyssa Gill, a 2015 political science alumna, was the first Penn Stater to join the Venture for America (VFA) Fellowship program. VFA is an organization that seeks to revitalize American cities and communities by developing the next generation of socially responsible entrepreneurs. Gill knew the VFA Fellowship was the perfect fit for her because of her coursework and internship experiences while a student in the College of the Liberal Arts and the interdisciplinary Humanitarian Engineering & Social Entrepreneurship program.  Full story

Congratulations to Michael Nelson, recently awarded the Early Career Professor...

Michael J. Nelson was recently awarded the Jeffrey L. Hyde and Sharon D. Hyde and Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professorship of Political Science.  Early Career Professorships are awarded by the College of the Liberal Arts to untenured and recently tenured faculty who distinguish themselves through outstanding scholarship, teaching and service.

Two Penn State Political Science faculty members recognized by British Academy.

Matt Golder and Sona N. Golder, both Associate professors of Political Science at Penn State, along with William Roberts Clark of Texas A&M University, received the Brian Barry Prize in Political Science from the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences for their study, "An Exit, Voice, and Loyalty Model of Politics."   Click here for full story.

Joseph Wright, appointed co-director of the undergraduate major in Global and International Studies (GLIS)

Joseph Wright, Associate Professor of Political Science has been appointed as co-director to the undergraduate major in Global and International Studies. (GLIS).

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