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Graduate Students

American Democracy Graduate Fellows

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Alejandra Aldridge

Political Science

Alejandra Aldridge is a PhD candidate in the Political Science department at Stanford University. Her dissertation examines how citizens think about democratic norms and how presidents can influence those conceptions about democratic norms. Broadly, her research interests include  executive politics, presidential elections, experimental methods, survey methodology, and gender and politics. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Political Science.

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Ruth Elisabeth Appel


Ruth Appel is a PhD Student in Stanford's Department of Communication. She is interested in the intersection of Behavioral Science and Computer Science, with the aim of leveraging psychological targeting ethically and for the common good. She is particularly passionate about encouraging prosocial behavior and political participation and promoting wellbeing and mental health. 

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Levi Boxell


Levi Boxell is a PhD Candidate in Economics at Stanford University and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. The Center for American Democracy grant will help fund a survey experiment (joint with Jacob Conway) examining how political ideology shapes consumer behavior. His broader research agenda incorporates areas of political economy and development, with a particular emphasis on political conflict and the role of information technologies. 

Luca Braghieri


Luca Braghieri is a PhD student in economics at Stanford University specializing in behavioral economics and political economy. He holds a BA from Harvard University. His most recent project studies the effects of social image concerns on communication, especially in relation to the debate about political correctness on college campus.

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Charles Chu

Graduate School of Business

Charles Chu is a PhD student in Micro-Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His research interests center on how social structures (e.g., contract work, modern work arrangements) influence people’s sense of identity and meaning in life. His work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS examines whether challenges to the existing racial hierarchy (e.g., presenting information about demographic shifts) disrupt Americans’ experience of meaning in life and whether the presence of strong social connections might mitigate such an effect.

Katherine Clayton

Political Science

Katie Clayton is a first-year PhD student in Stanford’s Department of Political Science. She grew up in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and she graduated as a valedictorian of Dartmouth College in 2018 with a BA in Government and French. Her research interests include American democracy, identity politics, and the politics of immigration, and her research has been published in Political Behavior and Politics, Groups, and Identities, among others. Her book, Campus Diversity: The Hidden Consensus (co-authored with John Carey and Yusaku Horiuchi), was published in 2020 at Cambridge University Press.

Christianne Corbett

Christianne Corbett is a PhD Candidate in Stanford’s Department of Sociology. Her dissertation project focuses on the role of empathy and perspective-taking in creating inclusive work environments.   Her broader research agenda focuses on occupational gender segregation and barriers to women in leadership. Her survey experiment explores gender differences in penalties assessed to women and men presidential candidates when they fail to meet voter expectations.

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Katie Hedgecock

Political Science

Katie Hedgecock is a PhD Student in Stanford's Department of Political Science and an active duty Army officer.  Her research examines the strategic logic of international cyber operations. Katie's current projects seek to understand the motivations for public attribution of state-sponsored cyber operations and the relationship between the state, private entities, and the public in the cyber domain. 

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Lisa Hummel


Lisa Hummel is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at Stanford. Her dissertation project looks at the intersection of identity and ideology for political minorities; specifically she studies lay theories of inequality among political conservatives in California. She uses mixed methods including qualitative interviews and experimental methods. Using a conjoint experiment, she seeks to answer why conservatives are less likely than liberals to support women in leadership positions in politics.

Jonathan Lee


Jonathan Lee is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Policy (Health Economics Track) and a M.A. in Political Science, while also a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Stanford Health Care. He is interested in understanding how people acquire, utilize, and adjust mental heuristics used to interpret politically-relevant cues. His current survey experiment seeks to evaluate how people's political beliefs and information-seeking behaviors respond to sponsor disclosures in political advertisements, as well as testing the malleability of those responses.

Soyoung Lee

Political Science

Soyoung Lee is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, Stanford University. Her dissertation project explores why people are willing to go to war over certain issues but not others, when an issue becomes symbolic to the nation, and how this process affects international conflict. Her research agenda also includes topics of nationalism, international rivalries, and alliance politics. She plans to use survey experiments to explore what conditions determine issue salience, or public perception of the value of an issue at stake. 

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Daphna Spivack

Psychology, Law

Daphna Spivack is a joint JD & PhD student in the Psychology Department at Stanford, where she studies the ways in which different psychological biases affect our judicial and political systems. She looks at how biased processing affects our preferred policy outcomes and influences prosecutor and juror decision making in the courtroom. For her research with the Center for American Democracy, she focuses on the ways in which political polarization and motivated reasoning influence perceptions of executive power. 

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Lauren Sukin

Political Science

Lauren Sukin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science. She studies International Security, with a focus on nuclear policy. Her dissertation project examines the politics of nuclear nonproliferation. 

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Marissa Thompson

Graduate School of Education

Marissa Thompson is a PhD candidate in Sociology of Education at Stanford University. Her research investigates inequality in access and returns to education by race and socioeconomic status. Her survey experiment, co-authored with Sam Trejo, explores how information about local school segregation affects parents’ opinions on desegregation policies. 

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Hesu Yoon


Hesu Yoon is a PhD Candidate in Stanford's Department of Sociology. She is broadly interested in the role of race/ethnicity, social media, and urban consumption in facilitating neighborhood changes like gentrification, segregation, and integration. In her current project, Hesu uses an online survey experiment to investigate how local businesses and their social media reviews affect how young elites perceive and evaluate neighborhoods. 

CSS Fellows

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Yiming He

The effects of slum clearance on displaced residents: evidence from Victorian London

Yiming He is a PhD candidate in economics. He holds a dual BA in economics from Sciences-Po (the Paris Institute of Political Studies) and Columbia University. His research lies at the intersection of urban economics, economic history, and development economics. His current research investigates the impacts of various urban policies, including slum clearance and clean water technology, in the context of Victorian England.Yiming He is a PhD candidate in economics. He holds a dual BA in economics from Sciences-Po (the Paris Institute of Political Studies) and Columbia University.

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Mufan Luo

Understanding Live Broadcasting Media Events and Intensified Emotions

Mufan’s research examines interpersonal and psychological processes in social media and communication technology. She employs multiple methods (e.g., online and lab experiments, observational study) to investigate the bidirectional relationships between social media use and psychological well-being, affective and cognitive effects of engaging in broadcast live media events and the interpersonal dynamics of social exclusion in online settings.


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Katariina Mueller-Gastell

Formal Inclusion, Informal Exclusion: the Gender Differences in Social Interaction at Work

Katariina Mueller-Gastell is a PhD candidate in the Stanford Sociology department.  Katariina is interested in evaluation in organizations and labor market inequality. She studies how evaluators form assessments – of non-profits to fund or employees to hire – and how assessment procedures affect inequality. She also has a set of projects on gender differences in job search behavior and sorting into firms.


Franklin Qian

The Effect of High-skilled Firm Entry on Gentrification

Franklin Qian is a Ph.D. student in the Economics Department at Stanford University. His main research interests lie in the fields of labor economics, public economics, urban and real estate economics. He is passionate about using big data and computational tools together with causal inference techniques to study fundamental causes of spatial inequality and how to design better public policies to help the disadvantaged groups.


Rose Tan

The Effect of High-skilled Firm Entry on Gentrification
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Austin van Loon

Formal Inclusion, Informal Exclusion: the Gender Differences in Social Interaction at Work

Austin van Loon is a PhD candidate in the Stanford Sociology department. Austin’s areas of interest include social networks, computational methods, social psychology, and the sociology of culture. He studies organizational culture; political polarization; and the mechanisms of social network formation, maintenance, and change (especially in organizations).


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Michael Webb

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Labor Market

I use the overlap between the text of patents and the text of job descriptions to predict the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs and wages. Applying the same method to historical episodes of technological change, I find that it correctly predicts which occupations were, in fact, impacted by each technology.

IRiSS Dissertation Fellows

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Nathan Acebo

Indigenous Persistence and Resistance in the North American Colonial Hinterlands: Re-Assembling Puhu Village

I grew up in the east San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area and subsequently attended Cal Poly Pomona, where I completed my BS in Anthropology with an emphasis in Cultural Resource Management. Over the last four years I’ve participated in community based archaeological projects in the Mojave Desert, southern Channel Islands, and California Coast. My current project is based in the southern Los Angeles basin/Orange county area incorporating urban and rural sites.

Rodrigo Carril

The Economics of Public Procurement

Rodrigo Carril is a PhD candidate in Economics at Stanford University specializing in Public Economics. His dissertation seeks to understand how institutional and market factors affect the efficiency of public procurement (i.e. the purchase by the government of goods and services from the private sector).

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Dean Chahim

Draining the Infinite Metropolis: Engineering and the Mundanity of Disaster in Mexico City

Dean Chahim is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. His research focuses on understanding the politics of engineering and the ways that engineering reshapes political and environmental possibilities. For his dissertation, he spent nearly two years in Mexico City conducting ethnographic and archival research on how engineers have attempted to manage flooding amidst unprecedented environmental change, increasingly limited budgets, and the disappearance of long-term planning.

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Gabriel Chiu

The Rise of Entrepreneurship in China

Gabriel Chiu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University.  As an economic sociologist, he is broadly interested in the relationship between culture and the economy. In particular, his dissertation is a mixed-method study of the rise of entrepreneurship and its changing meaning in China. 


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MJ Cho

The Dynamics of Thinking and Feeling Experiences on Smartphone

I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Communication at Stanford University. I specialize in the study of media processing and effects with a particular focus on media sequencing that is enabled by digital media technology.

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Mashail Malik

Political Science
Why do Ethnic Parties Flourish or Die? The Microfoundations of Identity Politics in Pakistan's Megacity

Mashail Malik is a PhD Candidate in Stanford’s Department of Political Science and is a native of Islamabad, Pakistan. Her dissertation project is centered on the politics of ethnicity in Karachi – Pakistan’s largest megacity. Her research agenda further includes topics on political violence, state repression, civil-military relations, and the intersection of identity and economic conflict. 


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Tony Marks-Block

The Socio-ecological Effects of Indigenous Burning in California's Klamath Basin

I was raised in southeast San Francisco where I was active in environmental justice movements and ecological restoration projects. After graduating with a degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University I spent six years developing participatory action research projects with youth of color in Oakland, California, on local air and water quality issues.

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Daniel O'Leary

Socioeconomic status and obesity: an affective science perspective.

Daniel O'Leary is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology Department at Stanford University, working with James Gross. He studies the psychosocial mechanisms that enable successful self-regulation. He is particularly interested in the role that affect, self-efficacy, and socioeconomic status play in healthy decision-making. He uses a combination of lab-based methods, machine learning, and path analysis to study these issues.


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Eric Smith

Broadening the Scope: How Messages of Broad Care Drive Academic Investment

I am passionate about developing social-psychological interventions to increase success & well-being in learning contexts.
This encompasses research on emotion regulation, stress mindsets, mentorship, and broadening instructor messages.

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Michael Webb

What Can Artificial Intelligence Do?

Michael Webb is a PhD candidate in the Economics Department at Stanford University. He studies artificial intelligence, the labor market, and economic growth. His recent research includes a project studying the impacts of automation technologies on the labor market, and another that asks whether researchers are getting less productive (the answer, unfortunately, is yes!).


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Tongtong Zhang

Political Science
Fining for Living: Central-Local Struggle in the Relaxation of One-Child Policy

Tongtong Zhang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Stanford. Her research focuses on participatory institutions and public opinion in authoritarian regime, with a regional focus on China. Her dissertation examines the sources of variation in participatory institutions across authoritarian countries, as well as the consequences of these institutions on mass opinion and regime durability.