Department of Political Science

Our Students

Current PhD Candidates


Deepika Chandel

Deepika Chandel

Deepika Chandel is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Administration & Public Policy at Auburn University. Deepika earned her bachelor’s degree in Dental Surgery from India. During her time in India, she worked full-time as a dentist and frequently served nonprofit hospitals that provided free dental services. She also worked with multiple nonprofit entities to take oral health care and hygiene awareness to the grass-root level, provide mass education, and provide affordable professional services to people in rural areas. She received her Masters in Public Administration from Auburn University at Montgomery in the spring of 2016.

Deepika is passionate about being a change agent for healthcare policy. She is also a strong proponent of a proactive versus reactive approach to health policies. Her dissertation examines how the state executive policies and responses influence death rate outcomes in the U.S. during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Track: Public Administration, Nonprofit Organizations & Community Governance

Areas of interest: Public Administration & Policy Adoption, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Nonprofit Management, Research Methodology, State Politics and Policy


Master of Public Administration, Auburn University at Montgomery, AL
Bachelor of Dental Surgery, CCS University, India

Xi (Troy) Chen

Troy ChenTroy received his Master of Public Administration from Illinois Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Human Resources Management from South China Normal University. Now a doctoral candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Administration & Public Policy, Department of Political Science at Auburn University, he teaches an undergraduate American Government course. He has presented at the American Society for Public Administration, the Southern Political Science Association, and the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration with research topics on environmental policy, welfare policy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). His dissertation focuses on state comparison and variation on safe drinking water regulation.

Track: Applied Research, Community Planning

Areas of interest: Environmental Policy Analysis, Research Methodology, Program Evaluation, State and Local Government, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Master of Public Administration, Illinois Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Management, Human Resource Management, South China Normal University
ICPSR Certificate in Quantitative Methods, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Mac-Jane Crayton

Mac Jane CraytonAbsolutely passionate about the nature of local government and nonprofit collaboration, Mac-Jane Crayton is a doctoral candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Administration & Public Policy at Auburn University, with a focus on nonprofit management.

As a Graduate Assistant at Auburn University in the office of Outreach Global and a Success Strategies instructor for first year students, Crayton has extensive experience in organizing and facilitating service-learning opportunities and international community outreach. Mac-Jane is currently the founder and Executive Director of Dream Mentorship, a curriculum-based nonprofit organization that provides women with the resources, strategies, and mentoring they need to pursue their dreams with confidence and clarity by offering professional development training and personal enrichment courses to women in North America and around the world, so that more women can have a competitive advantage in the corporate world. Mac-Jane applies lessons from her life as a student to leading and growing a nonprofit in real life.

Track: Public Administration; Nonprofit Organizations & Community Governance

Areas of Interest: Nonprofit Management, Public Administration & Policy Adoption, Diversity & Inclusion, Environmental policies

Master of Science in International Relations, Troy University, Troy AL
Bachelor of Arts in History/International Studies, Imo state university, Imo, Nigeria

Kate Henvey DeMoss

Kate DemossKate is a student in the joint Ph.D. program in Public Administration and Public Policy at Auburn University. She holds a MA from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and a BA in political science from Trinity University, Texas. Serving as a policymaker and researcher in international economics, trade and development for over fifteen years. Kate has worked at the World Bank Group, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of International Affairs and the North American Development Bank

Track: American Politics & Policy, Global Public Policy

Areas of interest: Trade policy, foreign aid policy, public opinion, political behavior 

Master of Arts, Georgetown School of Foreign Service
Bachelor of Arts, Trinity University

Brian Ezeonu

Brian EzeonuBrian Ezeonu is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Administration & Public Policy at Auburn University. He earned a Master’s Degree in Economics from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nigeria. Before beginning his doctoral program, he worked with nonprofit organizations in Nigeria, collaborating with other international development organizations to implement development projects and programs in Africa. His research focuses on collaborative governance and the role of the nonprofit sector in international development. He also has research interests in the areas of econometrics, public policy and global finance. He has presented his research at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) conference, as well as the Southern Political Science Association conference. He along with two faculty members are also recent awardees of a $120,000 USD research grant from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (ACE-SOAS).

Track: Nonprofit Organizations & Community Governance; Applied Research

Areas of Interest: Collaborative Governance, Non-Profit Management, International Development, Econometrics, Global Finance, Public Policy

Master of Arts in Economics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Bachelor of Arts in Economics, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nigeria

Malerie Goodman

Malerie GoodmanMalerie Goodman is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Administration & Public Policy.  Malerie has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) in Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences since January 2020, where she researches college student hunger, supports innovative projects to address food insecurity with data-based approaches, and contributes to HSI’s growing bi-partisan impact on federal policy to address hunger nationwide.  Malerie’s academic interests center on using mixed-methods research to inform family policy and child welfare policy decisions, especially at the state level.    .

Track: Public Administration, Nonprofit Organizations & Community Governance

Areas of Interest: Child Welfare Policy and Administration; Family Policy; State-level Policymaking; Political Culture; Hunger and Food Policy; Policy Framing

Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology, California State University, Fresno
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California

Ryan Hankins

Ryan HankinsRyan Hankins is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy. He is executive director of PARCA, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to inform and improve the decision making of state and local leaders in Alabama through objective research and analysis.

He is active in local and statewide nonprofit work and serves on numerous boards and committees including the Executive Team of the Alabama Committee for Grade Level Reading, the Alabama Counts! 2020 Census Committee, and the advisory boards for the Master of Public Administration at Auburn University and both the Master of Social Work and Department of Human Development and Family Science at Samford University. He has previously served on the board of the Alabama Association of Nonprofits, the Birmingham-Jefferson Food Policy Council, the Medicaid Citizens’ Advisory Board, the Bold Goals Workforce Development Council, the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, and is past president of the Alabama Association of Free Clinics.

He is a graduate of the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute, Leadership Birmingham, Leadership Alabama, and a Birmingham Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 Honoree. He has taught courses in nonprofit management and has guest lectured in classes in nonprofit management and fundraising.

Track: Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Nonprofit theory and administration nonprofits in policy making, philanthropy, faith-based organizations, state and local government, applied research

Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Executive Education, Harvard Business School
Graduate Studies in Public Administration, University of Alabama, Birmingham
Master of Divinity, Samford University
Post-baccalaureate studies, Oxford University
Bachelor of Arts, Ouachita Baptist University  

Javier Juárez-Pérez

Javier Juarez PerezJavier holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Veracruz in Mexico. He joined Augusta State University's MPA program in 2006, where he collaborated with nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving the Hispanic immigrant community's needs. After graduation, he returned to Mexico, where he joined the School of Economics at Umar University in 2009. A year and a half later, Javier became the department chair, as well as president of the scholarship committee. He joined Auburn's Ph.D. program in fall 2013. He is currently finishing his dissertation entitled, "The Use of Economic Incentives to Lure Business: Is This A Winner's Curse Policy in Local Economic Development?" Javier seeks to uncover local governments' fiscal long-term consequences of granting economic incentives to attract firms. In Mexican universities, he has taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in economics. At Auburn, he has taught undergraduate courses in Comparative Politics and introductory courses on American Government. 

Track: Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Local Economic Development, Public Sector Economics, Policy Analysis, Political Economy, Research Methods, Comparative Politics, and Financial Analysis of Governments

Master of Public Administration, Augusta State University 
Bachelor of Economics, University of Veracruz

Steven Nelson

Steven NelsonSteven Nelson is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Administration & Public Policy.  His professional experience spans almost 30 years in the environmental field and includes work as a consultant and contractor in private industry, performing environmental site investigations and cleanups. For the past 25 years he has focused on environmental health and safety management in higher education and currently serves as the Associate Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Auburn University. His dissertation involves comparative state water quality policy to address emerging contaminants. His published work has appeared in Review of Policy Research, The Extractive Industries and Society, and Risk, Hazards, & Crisis in Public Policy.

Track: Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Environmental and natural resources policy, sustainability, and environmental justice.

Bachelor of Arts, Southern Illinois University
Master of Business Administration, Georgia State University

Kara Newby

Kara NewbyKara Newby graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters in Human Development and Family Science, and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Policy & Public Administration.  Before beginning her graduate work, she served as the Operations Manager for the Hunger Solutions Institute with Auburn University, working in education and advocacy for hunger alleviation globally and locally. During her career, Kara has worked in the nonprofit sector as well as with the Ohio State University Extension Service in the area of family and child development. 

Kara’s research interests include place-based politics, specifically how geographic location affects political identity and policy implementation. She is also interested in the intersection of race and place, specifically as it relates to rural minorities and politics, policy implementation, and law enforcement. Some of her work has also looked at social welfare policies such as SNAP and how they intersect with politics, and how policies affect participation in these programs. She also has an interest in nonprofit management and how nonprofits adapt in stress.

Her teaching experience includes Gender and Global Studies, Public Administration, Nonprofit Management, Honors Global Topics, and Hunger Studies. She has presented at the Southern Political Science Association, American Political Science Association, International Society for Third-Sector Research, and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action. She has published in the Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs.

Tracks: American Politics and Policy; Nonprofits Organizations & Community Governance 

Areas of Interest: Welfare politics and policy, State politics, Nonprofit management, Race and Politics

MS Human Development and Family Science, Auburn University
BA Psychology, Harding University

Noemí Oeding

Noemi Oeding

Noemí Oeding graduated with a B.A. in Vocal Performance and a Masters in Arts Administration, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Ph.D. Program in Public Administration & Public Policy at Auburn University. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, her career was spent in the arts, first as an opera singer and music teacher, and then as an administrator. She has worked with various arts nonprofits, most notably as Executive Director of the Montgomery Music Project in Montgomery, Alabama.

Noemí’s research interests revolve around nonprofits (specifically in the arts), American political behavior, and the intersectionality between the two. Her dissertation focuses on the impact Black operatic works have on mitigating racial bias. She has presented her research at multiple conferences, including the Southern Political Science Association, the International Society for Third Sector Research, and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations & Voluntary Action.

At Auburn, Noemí teaches undergraduate courses in American Government and Political Participation. She has an applied background in nonprofit management, leadership and governance, fundraising and grant writing, and volunteer and event management. Noemí has successfully secured funding from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Florida State Arts Council, the Alabama State Department of Education, and various private foundations. She also has experience as a grant reader, including serving on the music grant review panel for the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

Tracks: Nonprofit Organizations & Community Governance, American Politics and Policy 

Areas of Interest: Nonprofit funding and sustainability; Nonprofit management and best practices; Politicization of arts & culture nonprofits; Public opinion and political messaging; Political behavior and polarization

Master of Arts in Arts Administration, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Kendall Parks

Kendall ParksKendall completed a BA degree in German/Education at the University of Oklahoma. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army and learned Polish and Russian at the Defense Language Institute. He taught German three years at the United States Military Academy in West Point. After military service, he began coursework at Auburn University. In 2017-18, he served as the Graduate Student Council Vice President for Student Affairs, in the spring of 2018 he was the recipient of the AU Parents’ Association Faculty and Staff Award, in the spring of 2019 he received a “More than Auburn” (service organization) Instructor Award, and he is a member of the Auburn Student Veterans Association. His dissertation will look at the role of General Lucius Clay (from 1945-1949) as America’s public administrator in the U.S. zone of occupation and compare this with the public administration of the Soviet sector in what would become East Germany. At Auburn, Kendall has taught undergraduate courses in Public Personnel Administration, American Government, and German. 

Track:  Global Public Policy, Public Administration

Areas of Interest: Comparative Politics, Public Administration, and Education Policy

Master of Public Administration, University of Oklahoma
Master of Arts, University of Southern California
Bachelor of Arts, University of Oklahoma

Shaniqua Williams

Shaniqua WilliamsShaniqua Williams is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Public Policy and Public Administration program in the Department of Political Science at Auburn University. Her research interests include state politics, race and ethnicity, political behavior, and representation in government. Currently her main research focus is substantive representation in state government, specifically the impact of Black women in politics. She has presented at, as well as co-authored papers accepted for presentation, at the American Political Science Association, Southern Political Science Association, Auburn University Diversity Symposium, Southeastern Conference for Public Administration, and the American Planning Association. Her teaching experience includes undergraduate courses in research methods and state politics.

Aside from her academic pursuits, Shaniqua is involved in programming and mentorship through the Auburn Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. She has also served as a senator on the Graduate Student Council representing the political science department. In addition, Shaniqua has procured the following fellowships: SEC Emerging Scholars, Scholars Strategy Network, UC Berkeley’s Social Inclusion Policy, and Auburn’s President’s Graduate Opportunity Program. Williams is originally from San Diego, California and received her Bachelor’s of Applied Arts in Public Administration from San Diego State University and her Master’s of Public Administration from Auburn University.

Track: American Politics & Policy, Election Administration

Areas of Interest: State Politics, Race and Ethnicity, Political Behavior, and Representation in Government

Graduate Certificate in Election Administration, Auburn University
Master of Public Administration, Auburn University
Bachelor of Applied Arts in Public Administration, San Diego State University

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Last Updated: June 17, 2022