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 advanced graduate students who have expressed interest in advising theses in the upcoming academic year. We also encourage you to reach out to Gov faculty who share your research interests. 

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


Advanced graduate students advising theses in 2018-2019: 

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 dissertations regarding constitutional order and subnational authoritarianism.

Bizzaro, Fernando
My research concentrates on the nature, the causes, and the consequences of political institutions, particularly on political parties, regimes, and their impacts on human and economic development. I have published works on political parties, democracy, and elections globally, with a concentration on Latin American and Brazil, where I come from.

Brown, Jacob
Topics in which I would feel comfortable advising:
- Race in American politics
- Political geography 
- Urban politics
- Voting behavior in US elections
- Partisan polarization
- Social policy and economic inequality

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.

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.

Dost, Meredith
My research interests include bureaucracy and governance, 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 or using survey data. I'd be happy to advise on theses in any of these areas or in others in American politics and policy, especially those using quantitative methods.

Downey, Leah
My dissertation/prior research is mostly in the relationship between economics and political theory. I work on collective decision making, inequality, and the history of economic thought.

Fernandez Milmanda, Belen
I am a comparativist with a focus on Latin America. I work on the relationship between business and politics. More specifically, I look at how agrarian elites have organized to influence policy-making in Argentina, Brazil and Chile since the last democratic transition. I will be happy to help with dissertations on the political participation of economic actors or any other comparative politics topic as long as they focus on South American countries. 

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!

Guan, Yichen
I study comparative politics, with a particular emphasis on political participation, ethnic politics, and authoritarian durability. I’ve done research on democratization, social welfare provision, and censorship. I’d be very happy to advice any thesis related to authoritarianism and state building.

Henn, Soeren
My dissertation is on the political economy of Africa (specifically failed states and chiefs) but feel confident to advise any dissertation on political economy or Africa.

James, Sarah
Interests: social policy, education & education policy, the American welfare state, and policy feedback. 

Jerzak, Connor
Dissertation summary: What are the theoretical limits to causal inference in the social sciences? Given these limits, what can be said about the nature of political systems? Methodology is partly mathematical (theorems are derived using probability theory), but the project also contains a case study on financial market shocks around elections. 
Other research: I have also done archival research on conflict in Northern Ireland around military conscription during WWII, on the democratic deficit and repeated referendums in the European Union, and on the politicization of soccer in Egypt before, during, and after the Arab Spring events. Finally, I have done methodological research with Gary King on a new method for quantifying political sentiment in text.

Lakeman, Amy
I study the role of religion in American politics, with a focus on the historical impact of committed religious believers on the shape of the political agenda. 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.

Lee, Boram
I am a 5th year graduate student in the department. My dissertation research investigates origins of environmental linkages to trade agreements with a focus on the U.S. and the European Union. I am comfortable advising theses on international cooperation, international institutions/laws, and international political economy. 

Oppenheimer, Harry
My fields are international relations, conflict, and quantitative methods. My research focuses on how technological advancement impacts traditional international relations theories and provides new opportunities to test conventional hypotheses. This includes threat perception and assessment, coercive diplomacy, and domestic determinants of national security, particularly in the digital domain.

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. 

Pressly, Lowry
Interests: political theory, philosophy and literature, privacy (dissertation topic), history of the self. 

Reichert, Matthew
I'm interested in regime politics, nationality, and state formation - my research is on the administration of cultural life in the Soviet Union. I would love to work with any students interested, broadly, any of the following topics, either within comparative politics or international relations:
strong knowledge (would be very comfortable advising a thesis)
- Former U.S.S.R. and E. Europe, including the Caucuses and Central Asia
- State-formation
- Regimes; democratization; democratic breakdown; authoritarian politics
- Civil war; political violence; terrorism
- Identity politics & nationalism
- Collective action & social movements
- Civil-military relations
- Communism
moderate knowledge (could sufficiently advise a thesis)
- Middle East, China, SE Asia, historical Europe
- The welfare state
- International security
- Civil society
- Political economy of development

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.

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.

Tilleczek, William
My dissertation research focuses on the history and philosophy of poverty, wealth, and class struggle in Ancient Greece.  My background is primarily in the history of political thought, and in particular my strengths lie in both ancient political thought and late modern political thought, especially in critical theory and (post-)structuralism.  I would also be able to supervise theses crossing boundaries of literary theory, political theory, classics, and continental philosophy.

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 specifically on voter behavior and political accountability, and I feel quite comfortable with the literature on these issues as well as that of political economy of development, elections, political participation and mobilization, and gender. For my dissertation, I fielded my own original survey that included a survey experiment, and I'm also employing text analysis, statistical analysis of quantitative data sets, and qualitative interviews.  In terms of topics, I feel comfortable with a range of issues in comparative politics, and particularly in Latin America and also Africa (my academic work has been focused on Latin American politics but prior to grad school I worked in international development in Rwanda, Zambia, Mali and Senegal). In terms of methods, I use both quantitative and qualitative.