Potential Thesis Advisers

Government Department faculty and advanced graduate students in the Government Department are available to advise undergraduate theses. Below is a list of faculty and advanced graduate students who have expressed interest in advising theses in the upcoming academic year. 

Once you have found a thesis adviser, please make sure to submit a signed thesis advising contract to the Government Department Undergraduate Office. 

Government Faculty who can serve as thesis advisors for AY 2019-20:

Stephen Ansolabehere

Gloria Ayee

Eric Beerbohm

Melani Cammett

Stephen Chaudoin

Timothy Colton

Christina Davis

Grzegorz Ekiert

Ryan Enos

Leslie Finger

Jeffry Frieden

Peter Hall

Chase Harrison

Kosuke Imai

Torben Iverson

Iain Johnston

David Kane

Gabriel Katsh

Jill Kelly

Gary King

Harvey Mansfield

Elizabeth Perry

Paul Peterson

Susan Pharr

Thomas Remington

Michael Rosen

Stephen Rosen

Michael Sandel

Daniel Smith

Dustin Tingley

Richard Tuck

Xiang Zhou


Advanced graduate students who can serve as thesis advisors in 2019-2020: 

Abbott, Jared
My dissertation examines the intersections of participatory democracy, social movements and political parties in Latin America. My broader research examines political participation outside of the ballot box (protests, civil society participation, participation in mass political organizations, etc.), Latin American public opinion, inclusionary social policies in Latin America, education policy in Latin America, and the Latin American Left. I have extensive experience with diverse qualitative research techniques (interviews, participant observation, archival research) as well as quantitative research methods (survey design, survey experiments/natural experiments and text analysis).

Ashley, Sean
I study comparative politics, with emphasis on incumbent authoritarian survival and state violence. More specifically, my research concerns the difficulties faced by authoritarian incumbents in devising strategies to dominate, suppress and coerce their numerically superior publics. I’d be very happy to advise qualitative theses related to authoritarianism, state capacity, armed movements, and bloody politics in general. I would also be open to advising theses regarding constitutional order and subnational authoritarianism.

Balán, Pablo
My dissertation is about Social Norms and Underdevelopment. It involves field experiments in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, potentially, Argentina. Substantively, I'm happy to advise students doing work about Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America on the topics of social norms, state capacity and taxation. Methodologically, I'm happy to advice students doing quantitative work, including field experiments.  I have +3 months of fieldwork experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bautista-Chavez, Angie
Research interests: The politics of immigration, interstate cooperation on migration control; bureaucratic politics; American politics; international relations. A bureaucratic and international relations approach to the study of contemporary U.S. immigration enforcement. The conditions under which countries cooperate on issues of border security and migration control. U.S.-Mexico relations on issues of migration.

Bullock, Jessie
I study the relationship between organized crime and the state. My research focuses on urban crime, violence, and corruption in Latin America, and how they affect development. I would be happy to advise students that study organized crime or policing anywhere in the world. My other substantive interests include challenges to the rule of law and democracy, and I would be happy to advise students on these topics as well. I speak Spanish and Portuguese fluently.

Carney, Riley
I study political behavior and American politics. My research explores how where people live affects their social and political attitudes and behavior, especially as it relates to the urban-rural divide, intergroup conflict, and political polarization across space. I welcome the chance to advise theses in political psychology, political geography, intergroup relations, race/ethnic politics, and urban politics.

Chandran, Amy
I study political theory, and have a background in public policy, law and economics. My current work focuses on modern and early modern political debates, including on sovereignty, jurisdiction and church-state relations, and philosophical debates about the nature of human freedom. I would be glad to advise a thesis in political theory on topics stemming from the early modern/ modern period.

Chriswell, Kaitlyn
My research focuses on various forms of political violence, including my current project on criminal organizations in Latin America. I am very well-acquainted with the civil war literature, and I have also studied separatist organizations, terrorist groups, and state-building by non-state actors. I have designed and conducted surveys and semi-structured interviews in both Spanish and Portuguese. I am happy to advise students on any of these, or related, topics.

Coyoli, Julia
My research examines the political economy of education in the developing world, with a focus on Latin America.  Specifically, my dissertation seeks to explain sub-national variation in student learning in Mexico.  I would be able to advise students working on questions of education in any part of the developing world.  I have previously conducted fieldwork in Brazil, Peru and Mexico (where I lived for 5 years prior to attending graduate school) and I would also be able to advise students studying those, or any other Latin American country.  My dissertation research utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods and I would be happy to advise students hoping to utilize either in their thesis.


Dost, Meredith
My research interests include state and local politics, bureaucracy, inequality, and the politics of education (all U.S.-focused). I worked at Pew Research Center before graduate school and could advise on theses related to public opinion, analyzing survey data, or developing surveys. I'd also be happy to advise on theses in any of these areas or in others in American politics and policy, especially those using quantitative methods.

Evans, Georgina
My research focuses on European elections and parliamentary politics. I am especially interested in contemporary British politics. I would feel comfortable advising theses in the following areas: European electoral politics & party politics; legislative politics in parliamentary systems; and topics in international political economy relating to the Eurozone and European Union.

Flashner, Evelyn
I study political theory and intellectual history. My current work examines the emergence of liberal ideas of government, democracy and democratic processes, and Church–state relations in early modern Europe. I am happy to advise theses on most topics in political theory, in particular those involving religion and politics, early modern and modern political theory, American political thought, democratic political theory and ethics, and ancient/medieval political thought.

Freedman, Josh
My research investigates the politics of policymaking in modern China and the United States. I am currently focused on issues of power, bureaucracy, and the politics of science, and have research interests that span the subfields of comparative politics, political theory, and American politics. I have research experience in social policy and higher education outside of academia in both China and the United States, and would be happy to advise theses about Chinese politics, state-society relations, or anything that looks at China and the United States in comparative context.

Gould, Jonathan
I'm a PhD candidate in the Department of Government and a recent graduate of HLS.  I have experience with a wide range of theory- and law-related topics, and I would be happy to advise theses on any of the following topics: contemporary democratic theory, constitutional or statutory interpretation, individual rights (especially speech and religion), administrative law and the American bureaucracy, law and social movements, education law, and campaign finance and election law.  My current research uses tools from political theory, public law, and political science to study legislative representation, but I'm open to advising on a wide range of topics.  I edited the Harvard Law Review in 2015-16, so I have a lot of experience helping move research projects from idea to draft to completion.  And I've loved working with undergraduates, as a resident tutor, teacher of a Gov junior tutorial, and thesis advisor over the past few years.  Hope to hear from you!

Havasy, Christopher
I am a 4th year PhD student and a recent graduate of HLS.  Generally speaking, I study the intersection between law and political theory.  My dissertation tries to determine whether there are any normative reasons why we should listen to bureaucracy in a democratic government.  I have interests in contemporary democratic theory, questions of political and democratic legitimacy, political ethics, interest group lobbying, constitutional law and other areas of public law, corporate governance, as well as moral philosophy.  I would be happy to advise a thesis in any of these areas, broadly construed.

Hilbig, Hanno
My research deals with economic, social and racial inequality in the US and Europe. I have additional interests in the effect of public opinion on political rhetoric and policies, female representation in politics, criminal justice and the carceral system as well as the persistent effect of culture and customs on preferences and political behavior. I would be happy to advise students along all stages of the writing process, including formulating a research question, finding data and choosing a suitable method of analysis.

Hoerger, Jacob
I study the history of political theory with an eye to how that history bears on contemporary questions of justice. My research focuses in particular on the consequences of the decline in the belief in progress. I am happy to advise thesis writers in early modern or modern political thought, literature and politics, religion and politics, and politics of cultural memory.

Huberts, Alyssa
I study cities and urban political economy in the developing world, as well as public good provision. My regional knowledge is mostly on Latin America and I speak Spanish and Portuguese, but I'm open to advising other projects on urban issues in the developing world, as well as broader projects on the political economy of development. My dissertation is about provision and underprovision of basic public goods like water, roads, trash collection, and electricity in megacities. I use both quantitative and qualitative methods in my work.

James, Sarah
Dissertation Summary: I am interested in social policy and policy failure, especially when these failures exacerbate inequality, at the state and local level.  In particular, I ask under what conditions do public officials acknowledge data suggesting a policy is not meeting its stated objectives and what explains public officials' response to this mismatch. My dissertation is a mixed methods project that uses comparative case studies. In addition to this project, I study the effects of contemporary organizational structure and constituency outreach of the far right in the United States. Prior to graduate school, I spent 5 years as a public school teacher and administrator; therefore I am also deeply familiar with education policy and politics.
Research interests: State and local politics, organizations and institutions, inequality, social policy, education policy, policy feedback, mixed methods, policy feedback, archival research, qualitative research.

Kearney, Casey
I study international political economy with a focus on international trade and how domestic electoral institutions influence government compensation decisions as a response to globalization. My research interests also include currency politics, financial / banking crises and the politics of fiscal adjustment. Prior to graduate school I have a professional background in finance.

Kuriwaki, Shiro
I work on elections, representation, and public opinion in American Politics. I can advise senior theses related to these topics, and more generally other topics focused on data collection and quantitative data analysis (R, Stata, data visualization, experiments, survey methodology, econometrics, machine learning, and data science analytics).

Lakeman, Amy
I study the role of religion in American politics, focusing on the historical and contemporary impact of politics on religious elites' theological commitments. I am especially interested in how religious leaders have interacted with the politics of birth control over time. I welcome the chance to advise both quantitative and qualitative senior theses on an array of topics related to religion and politics, political behavior, and historical topics in the American context. I also have a professional background in state and local politics and would be happy to advise theses on local government or urban politics.

Latura, Audrey
I am a joint PhD student in Government and Social Policy. My dissertation research focuses on comparative childcare and work-family politics and policy, particularly in North America and Europe. I would be happy to advise on projects related to gender and policy, the welfare state, public opinion / survey data research, building original datasets, experimental methods, and qualitative interviews.

Meléndez-Sánchez, Manuel
Hello! My name is Manuel and I study Latin American politics. The topics I am interested in include political parties, criminal violence, democracy and authoritarianism, state-building, bureaucratic politics, and political institutions in general. I am interested in the entire region, but I do know Mexico and Central America the best. My advising philosophy is that everyone can—and should—write a thesis that is both well-written and personally meaningful. I was born and raised in El Salvador and wrote my own thesis here at Harvard as a Gov concentrator. 

Mierke-Zatwarnicki, Alex
My research focuses on ideology and electoral politics in advanced democracies, particularly Canada, the United States, and Western Europe. I'd be happy to advise theses on broadly related topics including voter behaviour, party positioning and strategy, electoral systems, the meaning and evolution of left and right, how elections matter for policy-making, and the role of ideas in politics. I also have specific substantive expertise on regionalist parties in Europe and Canada, drug policy in the United States, and the history and evolution of the left in Western democracies.

Oppenheimer, Harry
My dissertation draws on norm evolution and political psychology to understand how technological advancement impacts traditional international relations theories. My other research focuses on political communication of elites and messaging on social media platforms. I could advise a thesis on public opinion, international relations, security, or political psychology. Methodologically, I have experience in time series, survey research, and text-as-data.  

Palmiter, Brian
My research explores issues at the intersection normative democratic theory and American politics. I’m happy to advise thesis writers in either area. My areas of expertise include the history of American political thought, constitutionalism, contemporary democratic theory, and political ethics.

Park, Yon Soo
My research focuses on the causes and effects of securitization. Under what conditions are immigration and trade framed and treated as security issues? I also have a strong background in the literature on human rights, domestic politics of international norms, and international law. My interests lie at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics. I am happy to advise students on any of these, or related, topics.

Riaz, Sascha
My research interests span the political economy of migration policy, perceptions and effects of ethnic diversity in Europe, as well as causal inference in social research. I’d be happy to advise on any of the following topics:

•            Immigration / emigration policy

•            Attitudes towards migrants and migration policy, particularly in Europe

•            Effects of migration on host- and sending countries

•            Remittances

•            International (policy) diffusion

•            Politics of Germany

•            Causal inference / quantitative methods


Romney, David
I study a range of topics, including the psychology of intergroup relations, social media and political discourse, and conspiracy theories, with a focus on the Middle East (especially Israel/Palestine) and to a lesser extent Southeast Asia (especially Malaysia/Indonesia). For my dissertation, I look at how people communicate ingroup criticism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Specifically, how do the arguments critics use make others more or less receptive to the criticism? I would be happy to advise theses that relate to any of these substantive or regional interests.

Simons, Joshua
I am writing about the politics of machine learning for my dissertation. I can advise on all areas relating to the politics, political theory and ethics of technology. These include technological change over time, the effects of and on institutions, the relationship between technology and democracy, and the theme of technology as it arises in the history of political thought.

Strange, Austin
My research focuses on international relations, mainly international political economy, with a focus on contemporary and historical Chinese foreign economic policies. My dissertation project explores the emergence of trade doctrines in non-democratic regimes, introducing new evidence from late imperial China. I also work on Chinese foreign policy more generally, including China's economic, diplomatic and military relationships with other countries. I am happy to advise theses related to these topics, as well as theses generally related to international political economy and international security.

Watanabe, Aaron
My research focuses on populism and why populist politicians win elections. I also have a strong background in the literature on democratization and democratic breakdown, political parties, and Latin American politics. In addition, having been a Gov concentrator, I am very familiar with the process of writing a senior thesis at Harvard.

Weaver, Julie
My research focuses on voter behavior and political accountability in local-level politics in developing countries.  I feel comfortable with the literature on these issues as well as that of political economy of development, elections, political participation and mobilization, and local politics. For my dissertation, I fielded my own original survey that included a survey experiment, and employ text analysis, statistical analysis of quantitative data sets, and qualitative interviews.  Geographically, my dissertation focuses on Latin America, though I would be happy to advise students focusing on African politics, as prior to graduate school I worked in international development in Rwanda, Zambia, Mali and Senegal.   

Zoorob, Michael
Michael studies American politics. His dissertation research focuses on the politics of policing, especially elected Sheriffs and the influence of police unions. He would be excited to advise theses on policing, public health topics including opioids and overdose, inequality, and local politics in the United States.