Caldwell Hall Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125 U.S.A.

Graduate Students

PPE Affiliated Graduate Students

PPE Affiliated Graduate Students are a diverse group of high-achieving graduate students who represent the wide-ranging scope of PPE at UNC-Chapel Hill. Our Affiliated Graduate Students run PPE Reading Groups, host events, bring in speakers, share research, and work on a variety of projects related to PPE.

Kyle Abbott

Kyle Abbott

Kyle is a 4th year graduate student in public policy with research interests in economics of education, school choice, and school finance. Prior to coming to UNC, Kyle served in a variety of positions with federal and state legislatures. Most recently, Kyle was the chief of staff to Kansas House Appropriations Committee Chairman Troy Waymaster. His current projects focus on the North Carolina school funding mechanism and accountability in the charter school sector.

Karl Adam

Karl Adam

Karl Adam is a philosophy Ph.D. student who has two primary areas of philosophical interest. The first is moral and political philosophy broadly construed and the history thereof. The second is the philosophy of science, especially the social sciences, which he takes to include history, and biology.

As an undergraduate he triple majored in philosophy, anthropology, and history, and he often tries to bring a comparative and historical perspective to bear on discussions in contemporary Western philosophy. When not reading, thinking, or talking about philosophy, he can usually be found absorbed in a book of some kind, debating with someone, or spending time with his wonderful family, which happily often also involves reading or debating philosophy and other topics.

Si-Hua Chang

Chris Blake-Turner

Chris is a final-year graduate student in the Philosophy Department. He works mainly on the foundations of reasoning and rationality. Chris is interested in taking foundational tools from analytic philosophy and using them to shed light on matters of pressing contemporary importance. For instance, he’s recently been drawing on lessons from external world skepticism to think about the impact of digital technologies in our lives, especially as it pertains to our epistemic abilities (see his paper “Fake News, Relevant Alternatives, and the Degradation of Our Epistemic Environment”, in Inquiry 2020). More broadly, Chris is interested in the role of reasoning in a democracy.

Alex Campbell

Alex Campbell

Alex Campbell is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy. Before that, he completed a BA in philosophy and a BS in mathematics and economics at the University of California, San Diego. He is interested in metaethics and metanormativity, especially the metasemantics of ethical, moral, and normative thought and talk. His other research interests include the philosophy of language, ethics, including the history of ethics, PPE, and the history of analytic philosophy.

Si-Hua Chang

Si-Hua Chang

Si-Hua is a philosophy Ph.D student whose main interests are in social and political philosophy, ethics, and philosophy of race and gender. Si-Hua is especially interested in questions broadly concerning power and violence, oppression and identity, colonialism, and democracy. In particular, Si-Hua’s current PPE-related interests in this area concern interactions between civilians and law enforcement, particularly with respect to the moral and legal standards concerning self-defence, consent, and complicity. Beyond research interests, Si-Hua devotes time to cooking, travelling, and finding good vegan restaurants..

Emily Cottle

Emily Cottle

Emily is a Ph.D. student in political science, focusing on American politics. Her research interests include congressional procedure, effectiveness, and staffing. Prior to coming to UNC, Emily worked in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill. She completed her BA in political science and religious studies with a minor in legal studies at Bucknell University in Lewsiburg, PA.

Begum Icellier

Begum Icellier

Begum received her MSc in political theory from the London School of Economics. After working for a year at a think tank in Turkey, she started her Ph.D. in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is interested in the political theory of the workplace and feminist conceptions of autonomy.

Minji Jang

Minji Jang

Minji is a doctoral student in philosophy. Before coming to Chapel Hill, she received a BA in philosophy from Carleton College. Her teaching and research interests are in normative and applied ethics, moral psychology, and feminist philosophy. Her current research focuses on widening the scope of justified blame and genuine forgiveness for victims of oppression. Outside of philosophy, she enjoys going to movies and plays, listening to musical soundtracks, and spending time with her friends, their pets, and babies.

Audra Jenson

Audra Jenson

Audra is a Ph.D. student in philosophy, where her emphasis is political philosophy, feminist philosophy, and moral philosophy. She received her MA in philosophy from Virginia Tech, where her MA thesis was on adaptive preferences in development ethics. Audra continues to have a strong interest in development ethics; she is currently working on a critique of entrepreneurship-based microfinance. She has also continued to work on adaptive preferences and is spending a lot of time thinking about how ideology undermines consent.

Karl T. Johnson

Karl T. Johnson

As a Ph.D. student within the Department of Health Policy and Management, Karl’s current research interest covers the ethical, technical, and political dimension of cost-effectiveness evaluations for priority-setting in public health. He is interested in either pursuing a career in academia or working in the health department of a major metropolitan area. Karl received his bachelors degree in economics from Johns Hopkins University, in 2018, before beginning graduate studies at UNC. Outside of academics, Karl enjoys the great outdoors, hiking and camping, and late night karaoke with friends.

Sophie Kelmenson

Sophie Kelmenson

Sophie is a Ph.D. candidate in city and regional planning. She is interested in natural resource and food systems planning processes, and their interaction with economic development and equity considerations. She received her bachelor’s degree in government and legal studies from Bowdoin College, and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can find more about Sophie on her website.

Devin Lane

Devin Lane

Devin is a philosophy PhD student. Prior to coming to UNC, he received a BA in philosophy from Northeastern University and an MA in philosophy from Northern Illinois University. He has research interests in epistemology and the philosophy of language, both of which he believes can provide valuable resources for understanding and addressing political issues. Most recently, he has been thinking about how these resources can be brought to bear on the issue of political polarization.

Emily Rose Mitchell

Emily Rose Mitchell

Emily is a political science Ph.D. student with a focus on international political economy and plans to pursue the political economy of public governance. She completed her BA in political economy at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.

Joseph Porter

Joseph Porter

Joseph is a philosophy Ph.D. student with an AB in philosophy from Harvard College and an MTS in New Testament from Harvard Divinity School. He is interested in political philosophy, PPE, Aristotle, and philosophy of religion; he is interested even more in Tolkien’s Legendarium and Clemson football.

Joseph Porter

Abhik Pramanik

Abhik Kumar Pramanik is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Public Policy with a particular interest in studying the economic impact of international government interventions in developing countries. Abhik graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Political Economy in 2015. After graduating, Abhik spent a year in South Korea on a Fulbright Grant. Before joining UNC, Abhik worked in foreign policy advocacy in Washington D.C., with a focus on protecting America’s development and diplomacy programs. Abhik is also a member of the Royster Society of Fellows at UNC.

Abhik Pramanik

Michael Prinzing

Michael’s academic interests are primarily at the intersection between philosophy and social science. His research is focused on the good life—broadly construed—but also ranges over a number of topics in ethics and political philosophy, as well as conceptual engineering. Michael is also: a graduate fellow at the Parr Center for Ethics; leads a philosophy discussion group at Carolina Meadows, a local retirement home; works in the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab; and runs a blog called The Practical Philosopher. Click here to visit his personal website.

Z Quanbeck

Z is a PhD student in the philosophy department at UNC-Chapel Hill. Originally from Minnesota, Z obtained his BA in philosophy and history from St. Olaf College. His philosophical interests are wide-ranging (including epistemology, ethics, philosophy of religion, and the history of philosophy).

Kate Saylor

Kate Saylor

Kate is a Ph.D. student in public policy, focusing on ethical issues in genetics research and genetic medicine. She has a B.A. in biology, psychology, and music from Macalester College, and an M.S. in neuroscience from Oregon Health and Sciences University, OHSU. She won the award for the best masters thesis at OHSU for her work on the receptor cells of the inner ear. Kate then moved to DC to work on science policy at the National Institutes of Health, where she contributed to the development and implementation of research policies related to genomics, data sharing, precision medicine, and informed consent. These projects helped shape her current research interests in bioethics and science policy.

Kate’s dissertation explores fairness issues in genetic medicine through three projects: 1) identifying factors associated with underutilization of genetic testing in high-risk patients, 2) developing a cost-effectiveness analysis simulation model of a multi-gene screening panel, and 3) exploring philosophical critiques of cost-effectiveness analysis in the context of genetic screening. Kate is an instructor for the First Year Seminar “Science and Society”, a member of the Royster Society of Fellows at UNC, a graduate fellow in the Parr Center for Ethics, and a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Samuel Schmitt

Samuel Schmitt

Samuel is a political science Ph.D. student. Before coming to UNC, Sam completed a Master of Arts in philosophy at Bowling Green State University. There, he focused on political philosophy and worked as a graduate assistant for the Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law program.

Samuel’s research interests sit at the intersection of political theory, political economy, and civil society. He pays particular attention to how institutions are arranged to help individuals pursue various conceptions of the good life, and how this relates to questions of self-governance. Through coursework in philosophy during my master’s work, Sam became fascinated with three nested questions: 1) How can individuals best pursue their various conceptions of the good life? Given that individuals with similar visions of the good life will coordinate to pursue that life together, 2) which institutional arrangements are most conducive to their good life? And, 3) operating in a liberal, market-oriented society, how can these oft ‘illiberal’ institutions best interact? Those three questions orient his reading and study of the history of political thought and the history of economic thought.

Beyond research, Sam devotes time to engaging others in music, poetry, and the philosophy of religion. He is an avid listener of funk, jazz, bluegrass, and classical music, and an enthusiastic jogger.

DeeAnn Spicer

DeeAnn Spicer

DeeAnn is a fourth-year graduate student in philosophy. She is particularly interested in the intersection of social and political philosophy and philosophy of language. Topics that interest her include the role of intention in harmful or oppressive speech (e.g. how a speaker can commit a microaggression without intending to, and how that affects blame and responsibility), social construction of language, political dogwhistles, hate speech, and how to counteract harmful and oppressive speech. DeeAnn is also interested in learning more about theories of justice to better understand issues surrounding gender injustice, racial injustice and the current criminal justice system in the U.S.She graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a BA in philosophy with a minor in English communication.

Feiya Suo

Feiya Suo

Feiya started her Ph.D. program in public policy at UNC in fall 2017. She previously studied at Peking University, China, where she received her bachelor’s degree in international relations and political sciences in 2015. She continued her study at Stanford University, California and received an MA in East Asian studies in 2017. Feiya’s doctoral studies are about gender role socialization, political representation, and labor force participation, and public opinion studies. If you want to know more about Feiuya Suo, you can find her on LinkedIn

Tom Swiderski

Tom Swiderski

Tom is a public policy Ph.D. candidate studying education policy and the transition out of high school. His dissertation aims to evaluate the impacts of three policies and programs affecting this transition that have been widely implemented across the US. Raised in upstate New York, Tom also holds a Masters in Social Work from UNC and a BA in Psychology from Boston College. He previously worked at UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute conducting applied social research with local nonprofit and government agencies and as a residential care worker at a children’s group home.

Delaney Thull

Delaney Thull

Delaney is a philosophy Ph.D. student with interests in ethics and political philosophy. She has an A.B. in philosophy with a minor in Values & Public Life from Princeton University. She found her academic home in philosophy via exploring her early PPE interests in global poverty and international development. Her current PPE research focuses on the internet and international politics.

Frank Wu

Frank Wu

Frank is a graduate student in philosophy with interests in political economy and Marxism. He completed his undergraduate degree at Rutgers with a BA in Philosophy, Psychology, and Economics.

Matthew Young

Matthew Young

Matthew is a Ph.D. student in political science. He received his B.A. in Politics, Economics, and Philosophy from Berea College, and has worked and written for a number of magazines and popular publications. Matt’s research examines the historical and theological dimensions of religious toleration, articulating a schema for the practice of toleration among those with deeply held yet incommensurable beliefs. Beyond political theory, Matthew devotes time to his family, faith, hiking, music, and training as a competitive powerlifter.