Student Profiles


Meet our students!

I. Political Science Undergraduate Ambassadors
II. Current Students
III. Recent Graduates

2020-2021 Political Science Undergraduate Ambassadors

Michal J. Davis 

Michal Davis Headshot

Majors: Political Science, Spanish, and Communications
Graduation Year: May 2021
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Outside of the Political Science department, Michal serves as Vice Chair of Student Life in Ohio State's Undergraduate Student Government (USG). In her role, Michal connects the ideas, interests, proposals, and projects of USG with those of Ohio State's University Senate to better facilitate collaboration and progress amongst the two bodies. Michal has also interned in two constituent offices of U.S. Senate members, Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) and Senator Sherrod C. Brown (D-OH). In her free time, Michal enjoys running and listening to any comedy, news, or entertainment podcasts


Anya Chew

anya chew

Majors: Political Science; International Studies
Minors: German; History
Specialization: Cooperation, Conflict, and Violence
Graduation Year: May 2021
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Anya is a graduating senior from Cleveland and has been a student ambassador for the Department of Political Science since Spring 2018. She competes across North America as a delegate on Ohio State's nationally-ranked Model United Nations team through the Collegiate Council on World Affairs, and works as a private Model UN tutor for middle and high school students. She is also the Director of Outreach for the student-run, student-serving food pantry Buckeye Food Alliance, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and is a Law & Society Scholar. In her free time, Anya enjoys trying new restaurants across Columbus, hiking local trails, and staying informed about current events.



Briana Blair

Briana Blair headshot

Major: Political Science
Specialization: Democracy and Law
Graduation Year: May 2021
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Briana is a fourth-year student and has worked in the Political Science department since her first year. She joined the political science ambassadors in Fall 2018. Outside of political science, Briana is a member of the Politics, Society, and Law Scholars and a Morrill Scholar. She is also a member of College Mentors for Kids, where she is Big Buddy (mentor) to her 4th grade little buddy. Briana also works in the School of Music. In her free time, she enjoys going to OSU football games and trying different restaurants around Columbus with her roommates. 



Liam Parsons

Liam Parsons

Majors: Political Science and Spanish
Specialization: Cooperation, Conflict, and Violence
Graduation Year: May 2023
Hometown: North Royalton, OH

Liam is a second-year student from Cleveland, Ohio studying Political Science and Spanish on the pre-law track. He has been a student ambassador for the Department of Political Science since fall 2019, and is also a member of Politics, Society, and Law Scholars program. Liam has a strong passion for politics, traveling, and learning new things. He enjoys meeting new people, making new friends, and creating connections. Liam also enjoys being a leader and involving himself in activities and clubs in and outside of school. 






Current Students

Our students are actively involved in a wide variety of activities on campus, in Columbus, and around the globe. Meet a few of our current students, and see how opportunities in the Department of Political Science have shaped their time at Ohio State!


Turner Dilley

Turner Dilley headshot

Major: Political Science
Minors: Business and Public Policy
Graduation Year: May 2021
Hometown: Upper Sandusky, OH

At Ohio State, I have been involved in Undergraduate Student Government, serving one year as a Social and Behavioral Sciences Senator, as well as a part of the Politics, Society, and Law Scholars Program. I am also a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional co-ed business fraternity, where I currently serve as Development Director and am tasked with raising money for professional development events and our philanthropy. I am a current intern in the Ohio State University Office of Government Affairs and enjoy being a part of an office that serves as a liaison between the university and all levels of government. On the side, I work as a Campus Brand Manager for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville to promote the brand to a younger generation and also manage all of our campus ambassadors in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky.

Favorite political science course? My favorite political science course that I’ve taken so far is a toss-up between Gun Politics with Charles Smith or American State Politics with Vladimir Kogan.

Why did you choose to study political science? I chose to study political science because I’ve always been intrigued by politics and government and want a career where I feel like I’m making a difference, and a degree in political science from Ohio State allows me that opportunity. My specialization is American Politics.

Leonte Cooper

Leonte Cooper Headshot

Major: Political Science
Minor: History
Graduation Year: May 2023
Hometown: Akron, Ohio

Hi! My name is Leonte Cooper. I’m a political science major at the Ohio State University with a specialization in state and the economy. I intend to go to law school after graduating to obtain a dual degree (MBA and JD). My dream is to be a partner at a corporate law firm in Washington D.C. Here at OSU, I serve on Student Government and the Arts and Sciences Senate as a voting member. I will graduate with a BA in 2023. Go Bucks!






Maddie Sisk

Maddie Sisk Headshot

Majors: Political Science and Public Policy Analysis
Minors: French and Russian
Graduation Year: May 2023
Hometown: McLean, Virginia

My name is Maddie Sisk and I'm from right outside Washington, DC, which has without a doubt influenced my love for politics! Outside of my late homework nights at Thompson, I am very involved with the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA), particularly with our Model United Nations team, which has inspired my specialization in international affairs. I also plan to be a part of Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and rushing Greek life in the spring. My ideal future career would be in foreign service, as political science at OSU has really allowed me to explore a lot of components involved in foreign service, such as the exhaustive list of languages offered here at OSU and the strong emphasis on diversity!



Sarah Ameiche

Majors: Political science and history
Minor: Russian language
Graduation Year: 2021
Hometown: Marysville, Ohio

I'm currently a fourth-year student with a passion for political science (and specifically international relations). I love learning about American foreign policy, and the politics of different countries around the world, and their interactions with one another. I chose to study political science because I want to work for the foreign service one day. My favorite political science class that I have taken would be Russian foreign policy. I'm actively involved with the Alexander Hamilton Society and CCWA. I also enjoy reading, watching movies, and being with friends! I am currently an intern at the office of Sherrod Brown as well.  

Ryan Ackerman headshot

Ryan Ackerman

Majors: Political Science and Economics
Minor: Philosophy
Graduation Year: 2022
Hometown: West Chester, Ohio

I am involved in the Collegiate Council on World Affairs and Philosophy Club on campus. I was also a Senate Page at the Statehouse and a Research Assistant in the department. My main interest is Political Theory, but I do enjoy other areas of Political Science.





Lizzy Roka

Lizzy Roka Headshot

Majors: Political Science (B.A.) and Geography (B.A.)
Minor: French
Graduation Year: 2022
Hometown: Toledo, OH

My name is Lizzy Roka and I'm a second-year studying Political Science with a specialization in International Relations on a pre-law track. I chose to major in Political Science because of its applicability to a future career in law and the renowned program that OSU offers. Outside the classroom, I'm also involved in the Collegiate Council of World Affairs (CCWA), where I strive to promote inclusion, constructive dialogue, and awareness on issues surrounding international politics.

Recent Graduates

ps ambassadors

Alana Prendergast

Majors: Political Science & Psychology
Minor: African American Studies
Graduation Year: May 2019

Alana served for two years as Her Campus OSU President. Alana assisted in the development of the Undergraduate Ambassadors Program because she wanted to help current students better connect with faculty, as well as incoming students. She believes the Ambassadors Program is a great path for students to become more involved with their major and to serve as a liaison between the current OSU Political Science community and prospective students.








Hyeji Kim

Photo of Hyeji Kim

Areas of study: Political science and economics, French minor
Specialization: International Relations
Graduation year: 2017
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

Hyeji first got involved with the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA) at the beginning of her freshman year at Ohio State, when she sought out a club related to her major. Nearly three years later, she has built a close network of friends through CCWA and serves as an editor for Alger Magazine, CCWA’s student-run magazine that publishes articles on domestic and world affairs. “CCWA has been so great at promoting friendships within the department,” she says. “Every step that I have taken, from thinking that I should read this magazine or take this class or do this research, it has all been motivated by the people that I have met through CCWA.”

Outside of the Political Science department, Hyeji is involved in the North Korea Future Research Organization, a student group dedicated to researching and enhancing understanding of North Korea and its relevant issues. She also sings with BAAM, an Asian-American a cappella group on campus, and is a member of the Student Advisory Committee for Honors Collegium, an enrichment program within the University Honors Program that connects honors students with faculty and offers co-curricular activities on personal and professional development. 

During her sophomore year, Hyeji took advantage of the many opportunities for undergraduate research at Ohio State by working as a research assistant for Political Science assistant professor Inés Valdez Tappatá. This was a valuable opportunity that showed Hyeji how professors conduct their own research and allowed her to form a close relationship with Professor Valdez, who gave her advice and guidance on her future career plans. “Plus, it gave me more insight into my own research process – what sort of research I should be looking into,” she says. “So that was a great experience.”

In Autumn 2015, Hyeji was one of two political science students studying abroad at Sciences Po, a highly competitive French university in Paris, where she took courses in the areas of international relations and political science. Before departing, she said: “What I am most excited about is getting the opportunity to study political science and international studies from perspectives that are different than what I was previously exposed to. Critical thinking is important in all fields, but I think it is particularly relevant in the social science fields. I believe that learning about the French methodology and having the chance to learn about world affairs from a different point of view will be beneficial as I continue my study at Ohio State.”

Looking to the future, Hyeji is considering careers in foreign policy, diplomacy, or possibly international political risk analysis. To further explore these interests, Hyeji participated in the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2015. The Rangel Program, which is funded by the Department of State and hosted by Howard University, allows undergraduate students who are interested in international affairs to attend courses on relevant topics, meet professionals in the field, and participate in networking and informational programs at various institutions around Washington, D.C.

When asked about her favorite things about the Political Science department, Hyeji cited the engaged faculty, the opportunity to get involved in numerous student organizations (“students can get together based on shared interests”, which helps give the department and the university a small feeling) and the openness of the department to student opinions and ideas.

Her advice to other students? Go to your professors’ office hours. It took me over a semester and a half to even gather the courage to knock on the professor’s door during his office hours. Sending an email and setting up an appointment is even scarier. However, once the professors see how engaged you are with the course material or just invested in the field, they are willing to listen to questions and give you advice. It can also develop into something personal as the student and faculty discuss their family lives, vacation plans, and much more. I was so happy when I got my first ‘I’m so glad to see you’ hug from my research professor.

You can also see a video of Hyeji talking about her experience in the department on the Political Science major page.

Kaitlyn Willette

Photo of Kaitlyn Willette

Areas of study: Political Science and Communications
Specialization: International Relations
Graduation year: 2017
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio

What is your favorite thing about studying political science at Ohio State?

My favorite thing has been the support of the advisors and professors. I leave my advising appointments feeling completely reassured and pretty much awesome! In addition, the professors have always been very willing to work with me. I’ve never felt like a ‘number’ that you hear about so often within big universities like Ohio State. I’ve always felt the department has time for me and actually cares about whether I succeed or fail.

What are your favorite courses in the Department of Political Science?

Two come to mind: Political Science 4218 (Russian Politics), for how it connected me to the world, and Political Science 4781 (Techniques in Political Analysis) for how it challenged me. 4781 used R coding language in order to analyze and present large data sets. Not only did it show me how important it is to read into what you see in graphs and charts, as this class teaches you the art of data manipulation, but it introduced to me a world I had left previously untouched. Learning R was hard, but I loved every minute of the challenge and am happy to have learned the skill. I still use it just for fun today.

What other activities are you involved in beyond the Department of Political Science?

Here at Ohio State I am part of the Media, Marketing, and Communications Scholars program, the Tri-P mentoring and Scholars programs in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, as well as Athletes in Action Student ministry. Each of these organizations has pushed me to new heights in academics, productive thinking and action, Faith, and hard work. In addition, I run Cross Country and Track for Ohio State.

What is your advice for future Political Science and World Politics students?

My advice to future students is to do something. Whether that is taking the first step into a research question that has always caught your interest, taking a moment to talk to your professor about something you’ve been pondering, or enrolling in a class that piques your curiosities but seems like a true challenge, do something. Maybe start an organization, or start looking into your dream of studying abroad. If there’s one thing the Political Science Department has shown me it’s the value of connections. These connections can be with people, or connections you make within your own studies, but regardless, they have never failed to surprise me with how much they can teach.

After graduation, Kaitlyn is considering attending law school to become a criminal prosecutor or combining her degrees in Communications and Political Science to become a political commentator or spokesperson.

Max Mauerman

Photo of Max Mauerman

Areas of study: Political Science and Economics
Specialization: Comparative Politics
Graduation year: 2016
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

One of the best things about Ohio State is its ability to be as big or as small as a student desires. Political science and world politics students benefit from the resources, connections and faculty excellence stemming from Ohio State’s stature as a world-class institution, but they are also able to forge personal relationships with faculty and fellow students, making a large university feel small. This has certainly been the case for Max Mauerman, a political science and economics double major who has taken advantage of the many opportunities Ohio State provides for research, professional development, and engagement outside the classroom.  

In addition to his academic studies, Max has been deeply involved in the Collegiate Council for World Affairs (CCWA) since his freshman year. Through CCWA, he has been able to travel to intercollegiate Model United Nations (UN) conferences around the country and help lead the Global Classroom International High School Model UN Conference (GCIMUN) in New York City in May 2015. He also serves as co-editor of Alger Magazine, CCWA's student-run magazine on foreign and domestic affairs. Thanks to his connections with CCWA, Max was invited to attend the 65th Annual United Nations DPI/NGO (Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations) conference in August 2014. Along with fellow OSU student and former CCWA president Erik Leiden, Max was part of a select group of students and journalists asked to cover the conference, which brings together nonprofits and social enterprises at the United Nations. In this role, Max had the opportunity to interview Hadiza Usman, the founder of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, and his article about the interview was published by the Huffington Post in April 2015.

Max has also found ways to apply his interest in political science, particularly civil rights and the politics of urban development, directly to his hometown of Columbus. Guided by professors Sara Watson and Vladimir Kogan, Max wrote his senior thesis about income mobility and the history of urban planning in Columbus. Part statistical survey, part case study, the paper traces back decades of history to show how political decisions have shaped the structure and income mobility of Columbus neighborhoods.

In Summer 2015, Max delved deeper into these local issues while conducting research for Policy Matters Ohio and interning with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), where he helped plan public housing projects. He also participated in the new month-long John Lewis Fellowship through Humanity in Action and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which focuses on civil rights advocacy and political organizing in the United States.

And in Autumn 2015, Max took his studies overseas to complete an internship with Innovations for Poverty Action, a development economics research organization, in Accra, Ghana. He will be designing and evaluating public health and waste disposal projects in the city - specifically, doing statistical analysis and data collection for the organization. 

When asked about the impact the Political Science department has had on him, Max said: "The Poli Sci department has influenced just about every aspect of my undergraduate career. From hearing Dr. Herrmann speak at my convocation (which convinced me to add the major), to joining the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (which introduced me to the most engaging group of students I've ever met), to working on both guided and independent research projects (which have shaped my career path), and finally to participating in the international Humanity in Action fellowship this summer, the Poli Sci department has been a valuable resource along every step of the way. The faculty and staff are not only academically excellent but also always willing to be advocates for students."

Max completed his degrees in Spring 2016, and after graduation he plans to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy or economics.

Jayan Nair

Image of Jayan Nair

Areas of study: Political Science (Bachelor of Science program) and Chinese double major
Graduation year: 2016
Hometown: Huntington, West Virginia

The Ohio State University and the Department of Political Science provide numerous opportunities for undergraduates to gain research experience. For instance, students can assist with faculty research, develop independent thesis projects or even conduct research while studying abroad. What’s more, grants and scholarships available through the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Political Science, the Mershon Center and the Undergraduate Research Office help make these research and study abroad opportunities accessible to students from all backgrounds and interest areas. Jayan Nair, a fourth year political science and Chinese double major, has taken advantage of these many resources to get involved in research in Columbus and around the world.

Jayan first became involved in undergraduate research the summer after his freshman year, when he worked as a research assistant for Dr. Janet Box-Steffensmeier and helped code data for a project on interest groups in Congress. Since then, Jayan has worked as a research assistant for three other professors in the Department of Political Science, which has allowed him to diversify his research and gain experience in different areas of the field.

Jayan’s experience assisting professors with their research has prepared him to develop his own independent research projects. Jayan is currently writing a senior honors thesis, in which he plans to map out changes in strategic culture between regimes in the Chinese context. Jayan credits Dr. Jennifer Mitzen’s workshop-style thesis writing class with helping him develop and improve his thesis topic. “It was incredibly helpful,” he said. “I really learned a lot. Not just about my own project, but about how to approach other people’s research in a way that is respectful and engaged with the ideas but still critically helpful.”

As part of his thesis process, Jayan spent 10 weeks over the summer conducting research in China. This trip was funded in large part by generous grants from the Honors Program, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Jayan’s involvement with student groups in the Department of Political Science has also been instrumental in helping him grow as a researcher and scholar. As a member of the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA), Jayan started writing for Alger Magazine during his freshman year, and he now serves as the magazine’s editor in chief. In addition to making good friends through the organization, he says his work with the magazine has provided insight into how to make scholarship accessible to a non-academic audience.”

When asked why he chose Ohio State’s political science program, Jayan cited the combination of depth and breadth that is built into the political science curriculum, allowing students to gain a holistic education while also diving into their specific area of interest. In addition, Jayan said that the faculty expertise and accessibility sets the department apart from other programs. “I’ve made some great connections,” he said. “I think a lot of it comes down to the connections that you go out and make. If you put in the effort, the faculty here are more than willing to help you out. We have a stellar faculty. It’s a great environment.”

Jayan advises future political science students to take advantage of the department’s resources to create an educational plan that fully prepares them for their future careers. He said: “Talk to the advisors about your interests. They’re not just there to talk to you about courses and registration issues. They can help you figure out what faculty members would be good mentors for you, or your research interests or professional interests. And really work with them to develop a cohesive degree that trains you in the ideas that are going to be relevant to what your interests are. Put that extra work in to create a degree that really prepares you for something.”

After graduation, Jayan plans to pursue a PhD in political science (with a focus in international relations) and hopes to one day become a tenure-track professor.


Photo of Tatyana Sinetskaya

Areas of study: World Politics, French minor
Graduation year: Autumn 2015
Hometown: Voronezh, Russia

For Tatyana Sinetskaya, a returning student who transferred to Ohio State in January 2014, the creation of the World Politics major helped her better explore her interest in global affairs. “My passion to know about world issues goes back to when I was about 16,” Tatyana said. “Living in Russia, I was always interested in what’s behind the ‘Iron Curtain'. When I decided to go back to school, the choice was simple: international relations.” She found Ohio State’s political science department while researching schools and was impressed by its national ranking and the caliber of students, but initially thought that the courses exclusively focused on domestic politics. However, when a friend told her about the creation of the new world politics major, she immediately contacted Jill Klimpel, an advisor in the department, to talk about switching her major. “From the moment I stepped foot in Poli Sci, the main source of information and support has been my academic advisor,” Tatyana said. “Jill has been very supportive – she is like a harbor where any student can anchor if he or she feels lost for a moment.”

As a world politics student, Tatyana has also benefited from the department’s faculty expertise and support. “I feel that the faculty members really want their students to succeed,” she said. “I feel like they are there to help, empower and share their tools.” Her favorite course in the department has been Political Science 4331: The United Nations System, taught by associate professor Alexander Thompson. Dr. Thompson is an expert in international relations as well as an accomplished teacher who was awarded the department’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 2011 and was a finalist for the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award in 2005. Tatyana agreed: “Professor Thompson is very knowledgeable as a faculty member. However, I think his greatest strength is his clarity and humanity. He can explain the material so that anyone can digest it.”

Through her courses in World Politics, Tatyana has been able to explore her interest in global affairs and hone in on one specific aspect: humanitarian aid delivery. In 2014, she began reading about the humanitarian crisis taking place in Syria. And soon after, war broke out in Ukraine. Both crises deeply moved Tatyana to get involved in relief efforts and connect with local nonprofit groups who were providing monetary and material support to civilians in the region. With encouragement from Dr. Thompson, she decided to channel this interest into her studies. She is now working on a research paper that examines existing models of humanitarian aid delivery and reflects on the shortcomings of aid in Ukraine to improve these processes.

Beyond the classroom, Tatyana enjoys attending meetings of the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (a group that she calls “a hub for brilliant minds”) and lectures hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Society and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. She also serves as the Outreach Chair for the Peace Studies Society at Ohio State, where she is developing a workshop on non-violent communication and inter-religious dialogue.  

Tatyana graduated in Autumn 2015 with a major in world politics and a minor in French. She plans to pursue a career in the field of humanitarian relief.

Ryan Lefler-Moore

Ryan Lefler-Moore

Areas of study: Political Science (with a focus on international relations) and Economics
Graduation year: May 2015
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

As one of the country’s premier research universities, Ohio State offers many resources and opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research, whether by designing their own project or by assisting a faculty member with their ongoing research. Political science and world politics students who are interested in research are able to pursue two different degree options – research distinction and honors research distinction – by writing a thesis or completing an independent research project.

For Ryan Lefler-Moore, a Political Science and Economics double major, the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research was one of the primary reasons why he chose to study political science at Ohio State. “I found the academic rigor and the focus on research to be much greater in this department than in other departments,” Ryan said. “We do a lot of research, and there are a lot of research opportunities here that I didn’t get in other departments. And the professors are genuine, very helpful people. I was blown away, honestly.”

During his senior year, Ryan chose to write an honors thesis and pursue a degree with honors research distinction. When searching for a thesis topic, Ryan drew on his two majors to study international political economy. The resulting thesis, entitled “Chinese Expansion and Global Economic Governance: Implications for the International Economic System,” examines the rise of China as a major economic player in the international system. Ryan’s advisor for his thesis was Dr. Randall Schweller, an expert in international relations who, incidentally, taught the first political science course Ryan took at Ohio State, back in his freshman year.

Another influential faculty member in Ryan’s research process was Dr. Jennifer Mitzen, whose thesis-writing course allows a small group of students to develop and discuss their research, and refine their papers through peer critiques. It was Dr. Mitzen who first told Ryan about the annual “All Politics is Local” conference hosted by Walsh University and encouraged him to apply. The “All Politics is Local” conference, which was held in April 2015, brought together students from seventeen colleges and universities in Ohio, New York and West Virginia, and offered undergraduate students the opportunity to present papers in the domestic, international or philosophical areas of political science and international relations. Ryan presented his research here, and at the end of the conference his thesis was awarded first place in the “Outstanding Paper” category. A few weeks later, his paper was also awarded the 2015 Henry R. Spencer Award for Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis by the Department of Political Science.

In addition to his research and academic interests, Ryan has been active in the Department of Political Science and on campus through several student organizations. A member of the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA), Ryan has written several articles for Alger Magazine, CCWA’s student-run magazine. He was also a member of The Alexander Hamilton Society, the Undergraduate Economics Society and the Mah Jong Club, and worked as an instructor for the Buckeye Pistol Club.

Ryan graduated in May 2015 with a dual degree in political science and economics. In the future, Ryan plans to apply for graduate school for further studies in international relations, and hopes to work on issues around international political economy.