Department of Political Science

Our Students

Current PhD Candidates

Xiaofeng Chen

Xiaofeng Chen photographXiaofeng holds degrees from Hebei Normal University in China, The University of York in the U.K., and Troy University in Alabama. She gained extensive experience teaching English language at Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology in China, and also applied experience in the U.S. working in a non-profit organization committed to Chinese language instruction at Troy University. Now as a Ph.D. candidate at Auburn University, she teaches undergraduate courses in the Department of Political Science, including American Government in a Multicultural World and Organizational Theory. She has presented her research at the American Society for Public Administration conference, as well as the Southern Political Science Association conference. Her dissertation focuses on U.S. local governments’ engagement with their immigrant populations.

Track: Public Administration, Global Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Diversity Management, State and Local Government, U.S. Immigration Policy, Public Administration, Comparative Politics, and Global Public Policy

Master of Public Administration, Troy University
Master of Arts, The University of York
Training and Certificate in Translation Theory and Practice, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China
Bachelor of Arts, Hebei Normal University, China


Kate Henvey DeMoss photoKate Henvey DeMoss

Kate is a student in the joint Ph.D. program in Public Administration and Public Policy at Auburn University. She holds a MA from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and a BA in political science from Trinity University, Texas.  

Serving as a policymaker and researcher in international economics, trade and development for over fifteen years. Kate has worked at the World Bank Group, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of International Affairs and the North American Development Bank


Track: American Politics & Policy, Global Public Policy

Areas of interest: Trade policy, foreign aid policy, public opinion, political behavior 

Master of Arts, Georgetown School of Foreign Service
Bachelor of Arts, Trinity University


Stacy Gay

Stacy Gay headshot imageStacy Gay is a Ph.D. candidate and lives in Springville, AL. She has been employed in educational fundraising since 2007. She has also lead and created several nonprofits.

Her research involves correlations between student involvement in higher education and alumni giving. Additionally, her research involves comparing first generation college students to their peers’ rates of duration, size and complexity of alumni giving.

Her goal is to lead a Center in Philanthropic Studies at a university by 2025.


Track: Non-Profit Organizations & Community Governance

Areas of Interest: Nonprofit Administration and Efficacy, Philanthropy

Master of Public Administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Bachelor of Arts, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Bachelor of Science, University of Alabama at Birmingham


Ryan Hankins headshotRyan Hankins

Ryan Hankins is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy. He is executive director of PARCA, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to inform and improve the decision making of state and local leaders in Alabama through objective research and analysis.

He is active in local and statewide nonprofit work and serves on numerous boards and committees including the Executive Team of the Alabama Committee for Grade Level Reading, the Alabama Counts! 2020 Census Committee, and the advisory boards for the Master of Public Administration at Auburn University and both the Master of Social Work and Department of Human Development and Family Science at Samford University. He has previously served on the board of the Alabama Association of Nonprofits, the Birmingham-Jefferson Food Policy Council, the Medicaid Citizens’ Advisory Board, the Bold Goals Workforce Development Council, the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, and is past president of the Alabama Association of Free Clinics.

He is a graduate of the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute, Leadership Birmingham, Leadership Alabama, and a Birmingham Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 Honoree.

He has taught courses in nonprofit management and has guest lectured in classes in nonprofit management and fundraising.

Track: Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Nonprofit theory and administration nonprofits in policy making, philanthropy, faith-based organizations, state and local government, applied research

Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Executive Education, Harvard Business School
Graduate Studies in Public Administration, University of Alabama, Birmingham
Master of Divinity, Samford University
Post-baccalaureate studies, Oxford University
Bachelor of Arts, Ouachita Baptist University  

Jan Hume headshotJan Hume

Jan Hume has had extensive experience in the government and non-profit sectors throughout her career. She has most recently served in advocacy, strategy and executive roles with Alabama’s nationally recognized pre-kindergarten program. She instituted the first outcomes-based evaluation of the program as well as initiated and served on the team that developed the state’s strategy to fully fund high quality preschool.

Jan began her career as a Research Associate with Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services providing research, training and technical assistance to Alabama’s state and local governments. Additionally, she worked on issues of education reform, tax reform and state constitution reform.

Her teaching experience includes Public Finance, Public Personnel Administration, Political Economy, and Foundations of Public Administration. She has presented at the Midwest Political Science Association as well as co-authored papers accepted for presentation at the Southern Political Science Association, the Citadel Symposium on Southern Politics, Auburn University Diversity Symposium, and the American Political Science Association. Jan hopes to apply the combination of her experience as a practitioner with the knowledge and research of her doctoral program to teach, conduct research, and connect research to practice in an academic setting.

Track: Public Administration and Applied Research

Areas of Interest: Public Finance, Public Personnel Administration, Research Methodology, Program Evaluation, Education Policy, Evidence Based Policy Making, State Politics, and State and Local Government

Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University
Master of Public Administration, Auburn University
Bachelor of Arts, Communication, Auburn University

Javier Juárez-Pérez

Javier holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Veracruz in Mexico. He joined Augusta State University's MPA program in 2006, where he collaborated with nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving the Hispanic immigrant community's needs. After graduation, he returned to Mexico, where he joined the School of Economics at Umar University in 2009. A year and a half later, Javier became the department chair, as well as president of the scholarship committee. He joined Auburn's Ph.D. program in fall 2013. He is currently finishing his dissertation entitled, "The Use of Economic Incentives to Lure Business: Is This A Winner's Curse Policy in Local Economic Development?" Javier seeks to uncover local governments' fiscal long-term consequences of granting economic incentives to attract firms. In Mexican universities, he has taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in economics. At Auburn, he has taught undergraduate courses in Comparative Politics and introductory courses on American Government. 

Track: Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Local Economic Development, Public Sector Economics, Policy Analysis, Political Economy, Research Methods, Comparative Politics, and Financial Analysis of Governments

Master of Public Administration, Augusta State University 
Bachelor of Economics, University of Veracruz


Zachary Mahafza

Zach graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a Master's of Public Affairs and a Bachelor's of Science in Earth System Science. Now a Ph.D. candidate at Auburn University, his research covers environmental policy, with a particular emphasis on energy production, and the application of GIS systems to administrative and policy problems. He has published in Water Policy, State and Local Government Review, Contemporary Rural Social Work, and INQUIRY.

Track: American Politics & Policy, Global Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Environmental Policy Analysis, Energy, GIS

Master of Public Affairs, University of Alabama Huntsville
Bachelor of Science, University of Alabama Huntsville



Rania Marwan

Rania Marwan photoRania Marwan is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science. She earned a doctoral degree in Business Administration (DBA) from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt in January 2017. She earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the American University in Cairo, Egypt in 2005. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the American University in Cairo. Marwan has experience teaching in Auburn University’s Department of Political Science, as well as at the German University in Cairo on the Faculty of Management and Technology. Marwan has published work on organizational culture, knowledge management, strategic innovation and gender, and leadership styles in international journals. She received the Outstanding International Student Award for Academic Excellence in the College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University in 2019. She is also the recipient of a 2020 Doctoral Fellowship from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).

Aside from her academic pursuits, Marwan is the founder of a nonprofit organization in Cairo, Egypt called Haweyya, which focuses on educating women in Egypt’s rural areas. Her nonprofit organization is the result of her strong belief in the power of women in society, as well as her passion for supporting women to become socially and economically independent. Marwan is currently writing her dissertation on “Networks as Engines of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region: A Focus on Entrepreneurship Efforts.” She is currently developing a business concept inspired from her dissertation, working with AU's Harbert College of Business.

Track: Public Administration and Non-Profits 

Areas of Interest: Network Governance, Non-Profit Management, Entrepreneurship, Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, Program Evaluation, Global Gender Politics

Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA), Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.
Master of Public Policy and Public Administration (MPA), American University, Cairo, Egypt
Bachelor of Arts in Economics, American University, Cairo, Egypt


Kendall ParksKendall Parks photo

Kendall completed a BA degree in German/Education at the University of Oklahoma. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army and learned Polish and Russian at the Defense Language Institute. He taught German three years at the United States Military Academy in West Point. After military service, he began coursework at Auburn University. In 2017-18, he served as the Graduate Student Council Vice President for Student Affairs, in the spring of 2018 he was the recipient of the AU Parents’ Association Faculty and Staff Award, in the spring of 2019 he received a “More than Auburn” (service organization) Instructor Award, and he is a member of the Auburn Student Veterans Association. His dissertation will look at the role of General Lucius Clay (from 1945-1949) as America’s public administrator in the U.S. zone of occupation and compare this with the public administration of the Soviet sector in what would become East Germany. At Auburn, Kendall has taught undergraduate courses in Public Personnel Administration, American Government, and German. 


Track:  Global Public Policy, Public Administration

Areas of Interest: Comparative Politics, Public Administration, and Education Policy

Master of Public Administration, University of Oklahoma
Master of Arts, University of Southern California
Bachelor of Arts, University of Oklahoma




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Last Updated: October 12, 2020