Biographical Profiles of Current Ph.D. Graduate Students

John-Michael Arnold
Oxford University, 2007; Yale University, 2010
Philosophy, Politics & Economics, B.A.; International Relations, M.A.
Wokingham, Berkshire, United Kingdom
John-Michael is a Ph.D. candidate with particular interests in international security, strategic studies and U.S. foreign policy. Prior to enrolling at Princeton, he worked for three years as special assistant to the president of the Brookings Institution. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Yale University and a B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) from the University of Oxford. For the 2016-17 academic year, John-Michael is a pre-doctoral fellow at the George Washington University, and he lives with his wife, Elyssa, and his son in Maryland.
Hélène Benveniste
Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris, 2012
Science and Executive Engineering, Master
Rennes, Brittany, France
Born and raised in Brittany, France, Hélène has developed a passion for interdisciplinary approaches to solve the climate change challenge. Before graduating with a MSc in science and executive engineering and a minor in geostatistics and applied probabilities from Mines ParisTech (Paris, France), she was a research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado where she developed a statistical tool for scoring extreme climate events forecasts. She then started her career as deputy attaché for energy at the French Embassy in Germany, and as such followed the development and implementation of the German energy transition. Most recently, Hélène worked as a research engineer and project manager on an expertise mission for the French government; the mission, linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), aimed at assessing the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) presented by countries ahead of COP21, and used as a new tool for climate negotiations.
Leyatt Betre
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2016
Physics/Political Science, B.S.
Frisco, Texas
As a first-generation American born to Ethiopian parents, Leyatt had a small town Texas upbringing often punctuated by encounters with the wider world. While she cannot claim any encounters of the third kind, she picked up an early love of astronomy and the slightly less wide world of international politics. Leyatt went on to study physics and political science at MIT, where she sought to forge some semblance of academic and personal coherence out of her dual interests. After researching the early chemical evolution of the Milky Way, the spatial distribution of dark matter halos, the drivers of nuclear proliferation, and the role of arms control in shaping U.S. force posture, she concluded that the coherence of one’s CV should generally take a backseat to asking really interesting questions. Leyatt is now a Ph.D. student in security studies whose research interests center on issues of nuclear strategy, arms control and diplomatic history.
Maya Buchanan
Washington University-St Louis, 2006; Johns Hopkins University, 2008
Economics/Environmental Studies, B.A.; Environmental Engineering and Geography, M.S.
Salt Lake City, UT
Maya grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. She started her career developing integrated water resources projects for the World Conservation Union, the United Nations and CDM engineering in Jordan. As a Fulbright fellow, she modeled water scarcity amidst climate change. Maya later worked on federal sustainability and Earth science projects for the Architect of the Capitol, Department of Energy, and NASA. Most recently, she worked for the White House Subcommittee on Global Change Research on developing the U.S. Government’s priorities in advancing climate science and informing decision makers. Maya’s research interests lie in optimizing resilience to climate change impacts, particularly to sea level rise in the face of multiple economic and social stressors.
Christopher Crawford
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 2012
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, B.S.
East Lansing, Michigan
Chris comes to Princeton after three and a half delightful years working at Sustainable Conservation, an environmental nonprofit in San Francisco. He worked on Sustainable Conservation’s PlantRight initiative, collaborating with plant scientists, environmental groups and the horticultural industry to stop the sale of invasive plants in California. Along with PlantRight, he worked to provide incentives for riparian restoration in California’s Central Valley, leading a cost-benefit analysis to help inform restoration along the Mokelumne River. A Michigan native, Chris attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, graduating in 2012 after studying ecology & evolutionary biology and physics. Among other things, he enjoys riding his bicycle, taking pictures of clouds, cooking vegetarian stir fries and listening to Swedish music. An avid traveler, he spent much of the summer finding environmental inspiration while road-tripping coast to coast. After graduating, Chris hopes to collaboratively improve the implementation of biodiversity conservation in developing countries.
Katherine Elgin
Princeton University, 2013
Politics, A.B.
The Plains, Virginia
Katherine is a second-year Ph.D. student in security studies interested in grand strategy, civil-military affairs, alliance dynamics and national security decision-making processes. Before commencing her graduate studies at the Woodrow Wilson School, Katherine worked at the Foreign Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. There, she focused on U.S. grand strategy and global political trends, contributing to several books and projects. While in D.C., Katherine also worked with a defense research firm. Katherine speaks Swedish, Russian and French, and her most recent research project brought to her Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. She grew up on a family farm near Middleburg, Virginia, and enjoys photography, tennis and traveling.
Brendan Gallagher
Johns Hopkins University, 2001; Johns Hopkins University, 2001
International Relations, B.A.; International Economics/Strategic Studies, M.A.
Columbia, Maryland
Brendan is a U.S. Army major with fifteen years of service, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in security studies. He most recently served as executive officer of an Infantry Brigade Combat Team while deployed to Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Brendan previously served in the 1st Cavalry Division and the 75th Ranger Regiment, and has completed multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and was also stationed for a year near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. He holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins, an M.A. from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and was the top U.S. graduate at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. At the age of 15 he successfully reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. He lives with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children.
Jamie Gruffydd-Jones
Oxford University, 2006; Oxford University, 2008
Philosophy/Psychology, B.A.; African Studies, MSc
Bath, United Kingdom
Jamie’s research focuses on the impact of international pressure on public opinion in the target country, particularly in relation to China, and the conditions under which it may have counterproductive effects. His thesis examines further how authoritarian regimes deal with information about international pressure domestically. He is also interested in how international actions affect domestic attitudes and behaviors and novel methodologies of measuring nationalism and its impacts. Jamie’s forthcoming research project looks at the impact of Western human rights violations on the behavior of authoritarian regimes.
Yixin Guo
Peking University, 2014
Atmospheric Sciences, B.S.
Beijing, China
Yixin joins the STEP family after finishing undergraduate study in atmospheric and oceanic sciences in Peking University, China. Back then, she had intensive training in physics, programming and maths and particularly explored the summertime long-range transpacific transport of ozone. The voluntary experience for the Nature Conservancy Beijing Office in her senior year further cultivated an interest in science policy and raised concerns about China's climate and air pollution policy. At Princeton, several courses and seminars make Yixin interested in agriculture, i.e. agricultural pollution from fertilizer and manure, food security and rural development. She looks forward to helping a transition to sustainable practices in the developing world.
Doyle Hodges
United States Naval Academy, 1992; University of Maryland-College Park, 1993; Naval War College, 2008
Political Science, B.S.; Government & Politics, M.A.; National Security & Strategic Studies, M.A.
Rockville, Maryland
Doyle came to the WWS Ph.D. program in Security Studies after a 21-year career as a Naval officer. A 1992 Naval Academy graduate with master’s degrees from the University of Maryland and the Naval War College, his Navy career included command of two ships and living overseas in the UK, Italy and Japan. His research interests include civil-military relations, intelligence, ethics in national security policy and grand strategy. Doyle’s wife, Emily, is a consultant who works in environmental health and safety. They have two dogs.
Jeongseok Lee
Seoul National University, 2007; Seoul National University, 2009
Political Science, B.A.; International Relations, M.A.
Seoul, South Korea
Jeongseok (Jay) Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in the security studies program, who studies international security with a regional focus on East Asia. He is currently writing a dissertation on the origins and evolution of the U.S. alliance network in Asia. Challenging a predominant view that American hegemony is the main cause of the prevailing bilateralism, his dissertation explores how Asia-Pacific countries' preferences and strategies shaped and solidified the hub-and-spokes structure of the alliance system. This research is supported by the fellowships and grants from the Bradley Foundation and the Center for International Security Studies, and he is also working on papers on North Korea's nuclear doctrine and China's economic coercion as additional research projects. Before joining the security studies program, he had served in the Republic of Korea Air Force as an officer and taught international relations and strategic studies courses at the ROK Air Force Academy as an instructor.
Mayank Misra
West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, 2007; Princeton University, 2014
Law, B.A./LLB (Hons); Public and International Affairs, MPA
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Mayank is a recovering lawyer and policy consultant. He has advised the U.S. State Department on track II diplomacy in the Middle East and the Open Society Foundations on strategic litigation. In India, Mayank was a civil liberties and public interest lawyer in the Indian Supreme Court where he worked on transparency and accountability within the government. In an ill-advised stroke of inspiration, Mayank is now pursuing his Ph.D. studying human rights within a broader ecological framework.
David Rasmussen
University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009; University of California-Davis, 2013
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, B.S.; Civil and Environmental Engineering, M.S.
Cedarburg, Wisconsin
D.J.’s interests lie at the intersection of the Earth’s atmosphere, policy, and the economy. He uses computational models and large data sets to study weather, climate and air quality. After graduating from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in atmospheric science, he was a research fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) at Princeton University. He later contributed to the physical climate projection work for the technical analysis underlying the Risky Business Project — an initiative to quantify and publicize the economic risks from the impacts of a changing climate — and was more recently a senior associate engineer at Ramboll Environ, located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
John Schutte
University of Virginia, 1999; University of Oklahoma, 2004; George Washington University, 2007; Air University, 2012
History, B.A.; International Relations, M.A.; Organizational Management, M.A.; Military Strategy, MPhil
Falls Church, Virginia
John is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and second year Ph.D. student at the WWS with research interests in grand strategy, bureaucratic politics, and intelligence studies. His most recent assignment was as a squadron commander in Southwest Asia. He has survived four formative staff assignments at the Pentagon, including one as an airpower strategist in the Chief of Staff of the USAF’s Strategic Studies Group, and spent eight years living abroad at the tactical end of policy decisions as an aviator. John and his wife, Melanie, are active volunteers in the local community when not busy raising their two sons.
Travis Sharp
University of San Francisco, 2006; Princeton University, 2014
History/Politics, B.A.; International Relations, MPA
Palmdale, CA
Travis grew up in the Mojave Desert before heading north to the University of San Francisco where he lettered in varsity soccer and spent one summer playing on a minor league professional team. After college, he spent six years working on United States national security policy at think tanks in Washington, including as a Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a Scoville Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. In 2012, he started at WWS, where he met his (then future) fiancée, Becca. During his time at WWS, he served in the Pentagon as a Harold W. Rosenthal Fellow, attended the Manfred Wörner Seminar in Germany and the U.S. Future Leaders Program in Japan, and received the John Parker Compton Memorial Fellowship in International Relations. In addition to his Ph.D. studies, he is a fellow at Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies and serves as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Travis enjoys playing soccer, eating Chinese food and listening to rap music. After graduating from WWS, he plans to work in the military-industrial-academic think tank complex.