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Graduate Students

American Democracy Graduate Fellows

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Adrian Apaza

Business
Resonant Anger: Online Petitioning and Activist Mobilization

Adrian Apaza is a PhD student in Macro-Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His research examines how individuals and organizations use language to make sense of products, organizations, and social issues. His work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS examines how social movements frame social problems to mobilize individuals; he specifically examines whether movements are more effective when their discourse utilizes emotional appeals and whether they target organizations as opposed to their specific leaders (i.e.

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Gonzalo Arrieta

Economics
Red or Blue Pill? A Positive Welfare Analysis

Gonzalo Arrieta is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics Department at Stanford University. His research focuses on paternalism and welfare, with a focus on how individuals think about others’ welfare.

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Matias Cersosimo

Economics
A Novel Look at the Welfare-Autonomy Trade-Off: Experimental Evidence from Leader Interventions in Voluntary Public Good Games

Matias Cersosimo is a Third Year PhD student at the Department of Economics. His research interest lies in the development and the usage of frontier statistical and computational techniques to answer causal questions of economic interest. His  project through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS with coauthor Alex Lenk uses experimental methods to study the objective function of leaders who have the power to intervene and restrict the decisions taken by others.

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Catherine Chen

Communication
Do People Lie When Reporting Their Beliefs on Global Warming and Support for Green Policies? A Test Using the Item Count Technique

Catherine Chen is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Communication. Her research agenda is to understand the psychological mechanisms of changes in public opinion on climate change and to seek effective ways to communicate and intervene. The goal of such communication and intervention is 1) making the public aware of their responsibilities, and 2) making the public willing to take action. Previous research has indicated that people may answer questions in ways that they think are socially admirable.

Katherine Clayton

Political Science
How Anti-Democratic Beliefs Spread: The Roles of Voter Representation and Elite Cues in the United States

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.

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Madison Dalton

Political Science
The Politics of Sexual Violence: Understanding When Sexual Violence against Women Becomes Politically Salient, and Why It Often Does Not

Madison Dalton is a Ph.D. student in Stanford’s Department of Political Science. She is interested in identifying strategies for reducing violence perpetrated against politically and socially marginalized individuals.

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Sierra Davis

Political Science
Candidate Masculinity/Femininity, Elections, and Voter Opinion

Sierra Davis is a PhD student in Political Science at the Stanford School of Humanities and Science. Her research interests focus on how gender affects voting behavior and public opinion and what drives gender gaps in representation. Her work with the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS examines whether masculine/feminine self-presentation, relative to a candidate's sex, influences voter behavior and perceptions. 

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Jamal Johnson

Political Science
Racial Misinformation

Jamal Johnson is a PhD student in Political Science. He is interested in the politics of inequality in the U.S. His work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS explores the determinants of Americans' beliefs about how much racial inequality there is in the U.S. in terms of economic, educational, health, and other outcomes.

Soyoung Lee

Political Science
Examining the Public Salience of Territorial Conflicts
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 certain international issues become regarded as national interest and why. Her work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS examines how the diffuseness of an issue's benefits affects the public's perception of the issue as national interest. Her broader research agenda includes topics of nationalism, territorial conflicts, and international rivalries. 
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Alexandr Lenk

Economics
A Novel Look at the Welfare-Autonomy Trade-Off: Experimental Evidence from Leader Interventions in Voluntary Public Good Games

Alex Lenk is a Third Year PhD student at the Department of Economics.

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Rachel Lienesch

Political Science
Racial Politics of the White Left

Rachel Lienesch is a PhD candidate in the Political Science department. Her research focuses on how racial identity influences the way White voters, especially White Democrats, think about race and perceive messages about race from politicians. Her work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS examines how White Democrats respond to progressive racial messaging from Democratic politicians, especially messaging that is explicitly directed at Whites, and how electoral context (i.e., primary vs. general election) conditions the responses of these White Democrats.

Julia Melin

Sociology
The Help-Seeking Paradox: Gender and the Effects of Career Assistance in the US Labor Market Re-entry Process

Julia Melin is a PhD candidate in Sociology and PhD minor candidate in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. Her research is broadly focused on gender, organizations, and careers. Her work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS examines how cultural beliefs about gender produce different consequences for mothers and fathers who utilize career on-ramping programs.

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Ellen Reinhart

Psychology
What does it mean to make the world better and whose contributions count? Societal implications of U.S. American social class variation in helping others

Ellen Reinhart is a Ph.D. student in Social Psychology. Her research focuses on how cultural defaults perpetuate disparities based on social class and race. One line of work focuses on how ideas of contributing to the world privileges ways of helping more common in middle-class contexts and neglect the forms of good more common in working-class contexts. Her work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS explores the civic and societal consequences (e.g., exclusion, civic disengagement, polarization) of a limiting notion of what it means to do good in the world. 

Erik Santoro

Psychology
Bridging the Partisan Divide over Zoom: Reducing Partisan Animus through Active Listening

Erik Santoro is a PhD student in Social Psychology. He studies how conversations can be a way to bridge divides. For instance, Erik has investigated the relationship between how men listen and women’s sense of power and respect. His work through the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS explores how to make conversations between out-partisans more effective (e.g., by encouraging active listening) in order to reduce partisan animus.  

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Preeti Srinivasan

Business
Anti-Racist Identities and Political Behavior

Preeti Srinivasan is a PhD Student in Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Before coming to Stanford, Preeti received her BA in Psychology from Harvard College (with minors in Economics and Studies of Women, Gender, & Sexuality) and her MA in Economics from Yale University (with a focus on international development). Her research focuses on prosocial behavior and altruism, especially as these behaviors intersect with diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace.

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Sumer Vaid

Communication
The Psychological Drivers and Effects of Exposure to Text-Based Fake News and Deepfake Videos

Sumer S. Vaid is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, where he specializes in Media Psychology. His research uses computational tools to examine the interactions of minds and digital technologies, with a specific focus on new media use, personality dynamics and psychological wellbeing.

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Cesar Vargas Nunez

Political Science
Healthcare, Immigration and a Pandemic. The Impact of COVID19 on Citizen Attitudes Towards Immigrant’s Access to Healthcare and Politics.

Cesar Vargas Nunez is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science. His dissertation focuses on the political determinants of immigrant's access to healthcare. In particular, he hopes to investigate citizen attitudes to immigrant's access to government healthcare programs - especially during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic - and the conditions under which politicians are likely to act and push for expansionary healthcare policies.

IRiSS Dissertation Fellows

Grace Alexandrino Ocana

Anthropology
Rights to a Heritage City: Working-class Citizens, Urban Heritage and Conservation in Lima, Peru

Grace Alexandrino Ocana is a PhD Candidate in Stanford's Department of Anthropology and is a native of Lima, Peru. Her dissertation project rethinks the fraught relationship between sustainable state heritage management and citizens' right to the city through the lenses of citizenship and class in Lima, Peru. Her research agenda furthers includes topics on heritage civic rights, virtual ethnography, citizenship and heritage activism and the intersection of heritage government policies and human rights.

Hernan Barahona

Economics
Food labeling: Effects on demand and supply of nutritional content

Nano Barahona is a Ph.D. student in economics at Stanford University. His main research interests lie in the fields of industrial organization, public economics, and development economics. He is especially interested in public policy design and his research focuses on how private sector responses interact with government interventions. He is currently working on projects in Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Barahona holds a BS in engineering and an MA in economics from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.

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Luca Braghieri

Economics
Social Image Concerns and Communication

Luca Braghieri is a PhD student in economics at Stanford University specializing in behavioral economics and political economy. He is a CESifo affiliate and will join the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich as an Assistant Professor of Economics in January 2021. He holds a BA from Harvard University.

Paul Christians

Anthropology
Mirages Past and Future: Foreign Expertise and the Political Economy of Cultural Heritage in Qatar

Paul Christians is a PhD Candidate in Stanford's Anthropology Department and Archaeology Center. His dissertation explores the prevalence and roles of foreign experts working in Qatar's rapidly-developing cultural heritage industry. Research interests include the anthropology of experts and expertise, heritage, distributive politics, what comes after cosmopolitanism, and ethics.

Lucy King

Psychology
Maternal life stress, prenatal inflammation, and the developmental origins of child temperament

Lucy King is a PhD Candidate in Stanford's Department of Psychology. Her research integrates the areas of affective science and child development with a focus on how early experiences influence risk for mental health difficulties. Her project addresses gaps in our knowledge of the etiology of risk for psychopathology by elucidating the associations among mothers' life stress prior to conception and during pregnancy, prenatal proinflammatory cytokines, and negative affectivity in mothers' preschool-age children. 

Kari Leibowitz

Psychology
Making Mindset Matter: Understanding and Harnessing Psychological and Social Forces to Improve Healthcare

Kari Leibowitz is a PhD Candidate in Psychology working in the Stanford Mind & Body Lab. Her dissertation research helps us harness psychological and social forces to improve healthcare by training healthcare providers to shape patient mindsets in clinical practice. Prior to coming to Stanford, she was a U.S.-Norway Fulbright Scholar and graduated from Emory University. Her writing about her research has appeared in The Atlantic and The New York Times. 

Hans Lueders

Political Science
The Political Consequences of Domestic Migration

Hans Lueders is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science, where he researches migration and political representation. His dissertation examines the political consequences of domestic migration in Germany. He further studies unauthorized immigration in the United States. Financial support from the Center for American Democracy at IRiSS will help him conduct a survey experiment among likely unauthorized immigrants that seeks to explore how unauthorized immigrants decide where to settle in the United States.

William Marble

Political Science
Political Responses to Economic Decline

William Marble is a PhD candidate in Stanford's Department of Political Science. His dissertation research focuses on how changes to America's economic geography are affecting politics. His broader research agenda includes work on local politics, discrimination, and the factors that cause people to become politicians.

Alejandro Martinez Marquina

Economics
What Matters When Deciding: The Role of Uncertainty and Debt

Alejandro is a 5th year Ph.D. student in Stanford’s Economics Department and is a native of Calatayud, a small town in Spain. His main research fields are Behavioral and Experimental Economics, with a focus on how choices are affected by the presence of uncertainty and debt. In his job market paper, he uses a lab-in-the-field experiment to show how debt leads to lower payoffs and affects risks and time preferences.

Jeff Sheng

Sociology
Invisible Power: How the Internet Changed LGBT Inclusion in the 21st Century

Jeff Sheng is a PhD candidate in Sociology and a MS Candidate in Computer Science at Stanford, and is originally from Southern California. His dissertation project examines how new online technologies and social computing systems have influenced the rise of underground social movements, particularly in areas involving gender and sexuality. He also examines the ways the internet influences networks and social capital, using qualitative and computational social science methods.

Scott Westenberger

Sociology
Fashion Changes: The Role of the Audience in the Fashion Cycle

Scott Westenberger is a PhD Candidate in Stanford's Department of Sociology.  His dissertation project investigates the mechanics of fashion change in popular culture. His research agenda further includes topics on social networks, social influence, and the structure and evolution of "taste."

Grace Zhou

Anthropology
Parasitic Intimacies: Life, Love, and Labor in Post-Socialist Central Asia

Grace H. Zhou is a PhD Candidate in Stanford's Department of Anthropology. Her research explores transnational intimacies, precarity and care under late capitalism, (post)socialist imaginaries, post-work politics, and settler colonialism in Asia. Her doctoral project is entitled "Parasitic Intimacies: Life, Love, and Labor in Post-Socialist Central Asia."