The Departments of Political Science and International Affairs are proud to have outstanding students on the job market. Brief profiles of each of our candidates are provided below. Please contact the candidates, their faculty advisors, or the Graduate Advisor, Dr. Megan Morgan, for further information.

Matthew Baker

PhD, Expected 2023
Curriculum Vitae

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Christina L. Boyd (Chair), Dr. Susan B. Haire, Dr. Geoffrey Sheagley, Dr. Roberto Carlos (UT-Austin), and Dr. Morgan Hazelton (St. Louis University)

Dissertation Title: Framing the Law: Judges and Jury Instructions

My research agenda is centered on the judicial branch and empirical legal studies, with an emphasis on judicial decision-making, judicial hierarchy, criminal trial courts, lawyers, law and society, and gender and racial diversity issues in the law. This research agenda is motivated and informed in large part by my experience in the legal field as a public defender. My NSF-funded (through the Law and Science Dissertation Grant) dissertation takes those practical experiences I had in the courtroom and translates them into an interdisciplinary examination titled Framing the Law: Judges and Jury Instructions. This dissertation project tackles three related questions: (1) how do judges’ preferences and professional backgrounds impact their decision-making on jury instructions, (2) what impact do jury instructions have on verdicts, and (3) do a judge’s race and sex impact his or her use of implicit bias jury instructions? Beyond the dissertation I have published on trial court decision-making in the context of bail and pretrial release.

For me, teaching is a passion. Fostering student learning has driven my professional interests since I began coaching undergraduate mock trial over six years ago. Teaching students motivated me to return to graduate school after six years practicing law, hoping that earning my PhD would allow me to teach law and courts and American politics courses full time at the college level, all while pursuing a concurrent research agenda enhancing and supplementing my teaching efforts. Over the past four years I have taught at both the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of Georgia (UGA) in political science and legal studies. To date I have taught the following undergraduate courses: Criminal Law; American Government; Individual Liberties and the Law; Law and Society; Legal Research; Legal Writing; Law and the Legal System; and Professionalism and Civility in the Law.

Pedro Maues de Avila Goulart

PhD, Expected 2023
Curriculum Vitae

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Jeffrey Berejikian (Chair), Dr. Amanda Murdie, Dr. Daniel W. Hill, Jr.

Dissertation Title: Traumatic Events and Nuclear Weapons Decision-Making

Pedro is a PhD candidate in Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, specializing in International Relations, and an Oskar Morgenstern Fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In his research he uses statistical models to investigate issues in nuclear strategy and proliferation.

He has taught multiple undergraduate courses as instructor of record, including Introduction to International Relations, Nuclear Politics, and Arms Control and Disarmament. In those he combines traditional lectures with experiential learning tools such as games, simulations, and engaging with news and archival sources. In recognition of his dedication to teaching, he was awarded the Christopher S. Allen Award for Teaching Excellence in 2022.

Ryan Yu-Lin Liou

PhD, Expected 2023
Curriculum Vitae

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Amanda Murdie (Chair), Dr. K. Chad Clay, Dr. Ryan Powers, Dr. Dursun Peksen (University of Memphis)

Dissertation Title: Micro-Level Analyses of the Uses and Impacts of Economic Sanctions

My research and teaching interests connect international relations with comparative politics, focusing particularly on economic sanctions, conflict, state repression, civil resistance, and human security. My current projects include (1) the impacts of sanctions on domestic and international violence, (2) domestic incentives for sanctions, and (3) public attitudes in sanctioned and sanctioning countries. My work has been published or forthcoming in Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Foreign Policy Analysis. In my dissertation, I explore how nonstate actors, including IOs, INGOs, and the public, influence the uses and consequences of sanctions. I have received the International Studies Association Dissertation Completion Fellowship, UGA Dean’s Award for Social Sciences, and a fellowship from the Taiwanese government for my dissertation research.

I have independently designed and instructed an upper-level undergraduate course on Dictatorships in Fall 2022 and am preparing to teach Violent Political Conflict and Terrorism courses in Spring 2023. I have also led breakout sessions for Introduction to American Government. Overall, I have had many positive classroom experiences. In addition to the courses I have taught, I am prepared to teach introductory courses in international relations and comparative politics. For advanced courses, I can teach a range of courses in foreign policy, conflict, international security, international political economy, political violence, and human rights.

Matthew Rains


PhD, Expected 2023
Curriculum Vitae

Dissertation Committee: Dr. K. Chad Clay (Chair), Dr. Amanda Murdie, Dr. Daniel W. Hill, Jr.

Dissertation Title: Institutionalized Abuse: State Incentivization and Oppressive Human Rights Violation

My research focuses on human rights measurement, marginalization and oppression. I most commonly work in the space of two overarching questions: “Why do states target their citizens with violence?” and “How do societal structures of privilege and power lead to non-enjoyment of human rights?”. These questions have launched projects across several subfields like political violence, political economy, and measurement. My dissertation is one example, identifying victims of human rights abuse to understand how – and why – states target certain people for abuse. This manifests in other projects, examining widespread or targeted human rights abuse in contexts of nationalism, personalism, civil unrest, and migration. I also manage multiple measurement projects because of my research focus, including a leadership role with the Human Rights Measurement Initiative. As Civil and Political Rights Lead of the HRMI, I work with a dedicated team of advocates and academics to create yearly data on nine civil and political rights, and additional data on which people are particularly at risk for non-enjoyment of their rights.

My teaching approach prioritizes active learning, simulations, inclusive pedagogical practices, and undergraduate research. I have taught courses on International Organization, Modern Warfare, and Peace Studies, and have been a teaching assistant to classes on Human Rights and Nuclear Politics. Guiding students through their own research has been central to my course design – I have been awarded for cultivating undergraduate research and have served as graduate assistant to SPIA’s Undergraduate Research Colloquium.

Jake Truscott

PhD, Expected 2023
Curriculum Vitae

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Richard L. Vining (Chair), Dr. Teena Wilhelm, Dr. Joseph Ornstein, Dr. Jason Anastasopoulos

Dissertation Title: @SCOTUS: Public Sentiment, Twitter, and Media Coverage of the US Supreme Court

Jake conducts research that integrates conventional questions of judicial politics and behaviors with emerging computational methods. To date, he has published or has works under review that explore the strategic retention and departure behaviors of federal courts of appeals judges,[1] the institutionalization of the American federal judiciary,[2] public attendance at Supreme Court oral arguments,[3] and the rhetorical behaviors framing Supreme Court confirmation hearings.[4] He also has works in development exploring the integration of high-dimensional, deep-learning models into the social sciences,[5] public discourse on the Twitter social media platform in response to the Court’s usage of its emergency (i.e., shadow) docket powers,[6] and the divergent rhetorical behaviors of Supreme Court justices in oral arguments.[7] His dissertation was awarded the 2022 Summer Research Grant ($1,500) by the University of Georgia and incorporates data mining, machine learning, and ideal point estimation to analyze strategic media behaviors and public discourse on social media platforms in response to decision-making by the Supreme Court.

Jake’s dissertation explores how media outlets and average Americans employ social media platforms like Twitter to instigate public discourse in response to decision-making by the United States Supreme Court. Levering data mining, machine learning, and ideal point estimation techniques, my research provides novel contributions toward discerning the theoretical motivations underpinning strategic media framing behaviors and the capacity for the public to engage in discourse online. He finds that users often convey complex political knowledge as a response to strategic media framing behaviors, unique case-specific factors, and their predisposed ideological beliefs.

At the University of Georgia, Jake has served as an instructor of record three times. In Spring 2021, he taught the University’s introductory course on American Government. In Fall 2021 and 2022, he taught Criminal Justice Administration, a course that serves as a primer on the multifaceted system of criminal justice in the United States. Sample syllabi and course evaluations can be provided on request.

[1] Ideological Congruence and Judicial Departures from the U.S. Courts of Appeals (Co-Author: Dr. Richard Vining, Under Review at The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies)

[2] Truscott, J. S. (2022). The Supreme Spectacle: An Analysis of Public Attendance at the Supreme Court.

Justice System Journal, 1-12.

[3] Explaining Congressional Support for the Federal Judiciary (Co-Author: Dr. Teena Wilhelm) The Handbook on Law and Political Systems, 2nd Edition (Forthcoming: 2022).

[4] Analyzing the Rhetoric of Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings (1971-2020). (Invited to Revise and Resubmit to The Journal of Law and Courts).

[5] How to Train Your Stochastic Parrot: Deep Language Models for Political Texts (Co-Authors: Joseph Ornstein and Elise Blasingame)

[6] Canary in the Coal Mines: Public Perceptions to the Supreme Court’s Shadow Docket on Social Media (Co-Author: Emilee Smart)

[7] Speaking the Same Language? Analyzing the Rhetorical Behaviors of Supreme Court Oral Arguments (Working Title).