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Ph.D.

Isla Schuchs Carr
Isla-Anne Schuchs Carr

Isla Schuchs Carr is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and currently teaches political science courses at the Meridian campus of Mississippi State University. She is a past recipient of the Garner Fellowship and a graduate teaching assistant for the department. She has also worked as a research assistant at the Office of the Graduate School on a grant funded through the National Science Foundation and Council of Graduate Schools. Her research interests include education (both pre-K-12 and higher education) policy, federalism, and comparative policy and administration. Carr graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2003 from the University of Mississippi (UM) where she studied journalism and international studies. Carr began her academic interest in education policy while attending the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College (SMBHC) at UM. After completing her SMBHC research requirements in collaboration with the Barksdale Reading Institute in Oxford, Mississippi; she completed her senior thesis on the promotion of public education policy support through media partnerships. In 2004 she joined the Mississippi Teacher Corps program at the University of Mississippi and taught Language Arts in the Mississippi Delta. She graduated from the program in 2006 with a master's degree in secondary education and a growing interest in education policy. Carr has five years of K-12 teaching experience.

Carr is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha and American Society for Public Administrators. She has presented scholarly work at several conferences such as the Public Administration Theory Network (PAT-NET) conference, the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) national conference, the Southeastern Conference on Public Administration (SECoPA) and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) national conference. She anticipates graduating in December of 2016.

Asya Cooley
Asya Cooley

Asya Cooley is a Ph.D. student in Public Policy and Administration at Mississippi State University. A native of Southwestern Russia, Asya is a communication graduate of Alcorn State University who went on to receive a master's degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. Before coming to MSU, she was a research associate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she conducted policy-relevant social research with an interdisciplinary perspective and worked closely with principal investigators on writing and managing government sponsored grants. She also worked for two years with the New York Times Regional Media Group. She has served as a Vice President of Membership with Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM) and received a Top 40 Under 40 Award from Alcorn State University in 2012.

Asya Cooley now serves as Mississippi State University’s Director of Development. Her primary responsibility is to coordinate and implement major gifts programs at three MSU areas: Graduate School, MSU Libraries and Shackouls Honors College.

Asya’s research interests combine fields of mass communications and public policy. She also focuses on non-profit management and educational policy research. She is a member of American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), and is an inductee into Pi Alpha Alpha Honorary Society. Her research is published in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Journal of Media and Communication Studies and Ecquid Novi .

Kristen Dechert
Kristen Dechert

Kristen Dechert directs communication, research, and evaluation at the Research and Curriculum Unit, a K-12 education center on campus. In this capacity, she oversees publication of two magazines and research and evaluation for 10-12 projects per year. Previously, she worked for the MSU Energy Institute and taught communication and writing courses on campus. Her research interests include personnel policies and practices and market-based reforms in schools, with a particular focus on how they impact equity and opportunity for teachers and students.

Currently pursuing a PhD in public policy and administration, Dechert holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Montevallo and Mississippi State University, respectively. Her work has appeared in Journal of Educational Leadership in Action and Using Data in Schools to Inform Leadership and Decision Making (essay collection). She has presented at conferences for several national organizations, including University Council of Educational Administration, American Educational Research Association, and Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness. Dechert is a member of the American Educational Research Association and the American Evaluation Association and was selected for the 2016-2017 MSU cohort of the nationally recognized Education Policy Fellowship Program.

In addition to her doctoral work and professional duties at Mississippi State, Dechert enjoys serving her undergraduate alma mater as president-elect for the University of Montevallo National Alumni Association Junior Board of Directors and volunteering with the Starkville Community Market.

Lakan Drinker

Lakan Drinker is originally from Hattiesburg, MS and a Ph.D. student in Public Policy and Administration at Mississippi State University. Lakan holds a Bachelor degree in Communication with a minor in African American studies and a Master degree in Public Policy and Administration. Lakan works to ensure that the underrepresented are not only heard but that policies are identified and put in place for the next generation to flourish. Lakan believes this must start with an acknowledgement of the underrepresented. Previously, the Outreach Coordinator for a non-profit health organization Lakan encourages others to be of service. It is because of her motivation for public service that Lakan continues to push forward to ensure she attains the necessary knowledge offered through this doctoral program to become an effective stakeholder for institutions of higher education.

Lakan currently works within the Office of the Graduate School as an Admissions and Enrollment Assistant at Mississippi State University. Her role within the Office of the Graduate School is to provide assistance to aspects relating to graduate studies at Mississippi State. Her primary colleges of interaction include but not limited to the College of Business, the Adkerson School of Accountancy and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Lakan’s research interests include: higher education policy, human resource management and diversity and inclusion efforts within higher education. Upon completion of this program she hopes to continue work within higher education in a larger capacity to identify the repercussions of institutional perceptions on the performance of minorities and its influence with a specific lens toward minority faculty.

Katie Echols
Katie Echols

Katie Echols is Ph.D student in Public Policy and Administration at Mississippi State University. She holds a bachelor of science degree in education and master of public policy and administration. Formally a K-12 science teacher, Katie now serves as the education and outreach coordinator in the Office of Research and Economic Development here at MSU. In her role as coordinator, she works with the state’s four research universities to coordinate efforts related to STEM outreach under the NSF EPSCoR initiative. Her research interest include higher education policy and organizational culture. She hopes to further explore how the organizational culture at universities impacts the effectiveness of policies related to research integrity. Because of her commitment to strengthening research integrity at MSU, Katie has been appointed as the Research Ethics Review Officer for Mississippi State University.

Patrick Exmeyer
Patrick Exmeyer

Raised in Evansville, Indiana, Patrick Exmeyer is a current Ph.D. student in the Public Policy and Administration program at Mississippi State University. A recipient of the Garner Fellowship and Graduate Teaching Assistantship, Patrick currently teaches Introduction to Public Policy. Additionally, Patrick also serves on the MSU Honor Code Student Council and as a doctoral student representative within the Political Science and Public Administration program at Mississippi State University.

Patrick earned his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in 2006 with a pre-law and law enforcement emphasis. In 2012, Patrick completed his Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana with a focus on Public Law and Public Policy. A co-founder of the first graduate student organization for the Masters of Public Administration program at USI, the MPA Society, Patrick was an integral part in coordinating and promoting a broadcast moderated debate concerning the proposed consolidation of governments between the City of Evansville, Indiana and Vanderburgh County featuring local elected officials and community leaders voicing both support and opposition to the proposal.

Primary areas of research interest for Patrick focus on public sector whistleblowing, administrative law, policy development, and the characterization of public administration within popular culture. His conference presentations include "Reclaiming the American Dream: The Role of the FBIs FIFU Division within the Dodd-Frank Act" at the Indiana Political Science Association Conference (IPSA) in the Spring of 2013, "The 8-Bit Bureaucrat: Exploring the Characterization of Public Administrators and Bureaucrats in Video Games" at the Southeastern Conference of Public Administration (SECoPA) 2014, and "Applying Procedural Justice Theory to Whistleblowing Mechanisms" at SECoPA 2015.

Victor Flomo
Victor Flomo

Victor Flomo is currently a Ph.D. student in the Public Policy and administration program at Mississippi State University. His research interest is in the Role of Public Sector Leadership in Fostering Socio-economic and Political Development in West Africa. He holds a master in Workforce Education Leadership from Alcorn State University and Bachelor in Public administration from Cuttington University.

He is from Liberia in West Africa. Currently, he serves as a Graduate Assistant at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University. Prior to his studies in the United States, he serves as the president of the student union in Bong County and Director of Scholarship and Education at the Liberia National Student Union. He also worked for the Liberian Nation Red Cross both at the management and governance levels.

Brittany Gray

“Part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane. That is more fun, too. That is more loving. It’s really working to create something beautiful.” –Assata Shakur

Brittany Gray is a 29 year old human rights activist and doctoral student. Brittany currently works on issues such as labor, politics, race, education, economic justice, criminal justice, mass incarceration, hunger, climate justice, economic democracy, and poverty along with anything that aligns itself within the scope of human rights. Brittany is the former National Organizer for the Climate Justice Alliance and Regional Organizer for Bread for the World. She does not hesitate to offer her skill set to the community in which she lives as is evident in her committed community involvement. Participating in various organizations and programs, working full-time and focusing on studies has always intensified her attitude towards hard work and desire for excellence.

Growing up in the rural Mississippi Delta with limited resources, the nourishment of strong family, religious, and social support systems greatly enhanced Brittany’s character. Exposure to effective educational tools has allowed her to sift through the divisiveness prevalent in the area’s racial, political and social tiers. Brittany’s values and principles of basic self preservation were strengthened. Lessons learned through her support systems made clear the need for hard work, dedication, perseverance and humility.

Upon moving to Starkville, MS, Brittany has done advocacy work in Georgia, New York, Ohio, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee; along with missionary work in Haiti and Morocco. After moving to Mississippi, Brittany has hit the ground running. She is heavily involved with the Human Rights Institute of the City of Jackson, Cooperation Jackson, and Moral MS Movement. Brittany has served on the executive committee of Atlanta’s Jobs with Justice, was a member of Atlanta’s Women’s 9 to 5, and the organizing committee of Moral Monday Georgia to name a few.

Brittany advocates for people of all races, genders, ethnicities, economic and social classes through research and practice. Brittany’s mission to draw on continuing spiritual insights, and working with people of many backgrounds, as they nurture into seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social relations and systems that strongly correlate with her personal values.

Robert A. Green
Robert A. Green

Robert Green is a Ph.D. student with research interest in organization change/theory, engineering and public policy, impact of globalization on policy and ethics, and military policy. He and Dr. Jerry Emison have developed and offered a unique course titled Introduction to Engineering and Public Policy and have offered it the last several years. The course is available to both engineering and political science undergraduates. Robert has a bachelor's in chemical engineering and a master's in mechanical engineering from Mississippi State. He also holds a master's in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

Robert is currently the undergraduate coordinator for the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State and has 14 years experience as a research engineer at MSU. He is a registered professional engineer, a member of several engineering organization and has served as chairman of the Engineering and Public Policy Division of the American Society for Engineering Education. He has also served as president of the Mississippi Engineering Society and was elected to the grade of fellow in the National Society of Professional Engineers. Robert was elected to serve as President of the roughly 30,000 member National Society of Professional Engineers during 2013-2014. In addition to Engineering and Public Policy Robert also teaches Engineering Law and Ethics as well as Engineering Administration on campus and via distance education.

In addition to his duties at Mississippi State, Robert is also a Captain (O-6) in the U.S. Navy Reserve and is currently the Deputy Program Manager for Team Submarines with Naval Sea Systems Command. He is an engineering duty officer and has had seven tours as commanding officer of a variety of units.

Courtney Harris
Courtney Harris

My name is Courtney Harris and I am a first year PhD student in the Public Administration and Public Policy program. I was born in Hawaii and raised in rural West Tennessee. I attended Bethel University where I received a double Bachelors of Science in History and Sociology. Afterward I attended Austin Peay State University for my Master's Degree in Strategic Leadership. I have interned and worked for the Tennessee State Legislature as well as the Department of Children of Services. My experiences showed me a need for policy changes for future generations; to protect and serve in the best way possible. It is that need that brought me to Mississippi State University.

Matthew Peterson
Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson is a Research Associate at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University. In his role, he is responsible for providing technical assistance related to public sector human resource management, specializing in services to further develop classification and compensation systems, internal pay equity, job analysis, and employee handbooks. Prior to joining the Stennis Institute, Matt worked in the Office of Human Resources Management at MSU as an HR Generalist. He is also a past recipient of the Garner Fellowship and was previously a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the department of Political Science and Public Administration, teaching American Government.

Matt received his B.S. in Business Administration from Reinhardt College and his M.B.A. from Mississippi State University. Currently, he is pursuing a doctorate degree in Public Policy and Administration at MSU. He is a member of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), as well as the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). His research interests include civil service reform, employment-at-will, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, and job evaluation and compensation.

Kimberly Roberts
Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a Registered Nurse.  She received her BSN degree from Mississippi University for Women in 2002, followed by a Master of Science in Health Promotion from Mississippi State University in 2005.  Kim is completing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration, with a research emphasis on healthcare compliance and quality improvement.  A strong supporter of health education, she recognizes the significance of having effective health promotion programs in the community and in the workplace.  In 2015, Kim joined the atom Alliance, a Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO).  She is a Quality Improvement Advisor and state lead for the task of reducing healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic stewardship.

Kim is a certified health education specialist (CHES), and is board certified in infection prevention and control (CIC). She works closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health on pandemic preparedness and bioterrorism surveillance. Kim serves on the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, and the School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) for the local school district. Kim's research interests include public health, emergency preparedness, and health care reform. Kim is an active member of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).  She hopes to use the Ph.D. credential to advance her work on public health issues and regulatory compliance in healthcare.

Alexander Washington
Alexander Washington

Alexander Washington is a native of Madison, MS. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate hoping to defend his dissertation during the 2016/2017 academic year. He received his BBA-Finance in 2009 and MPPA in 2011 from Mississippi State University. Currently, Alex serves as the Chief Policy Advisor for the MS Central District Public Service Commissioner Cecil Brown. In his role at the Public Service Commission, Alex advises the Commissioner on policy decisions impacting utility companies and utility ratepayers across the state. Prior to his appointment, Alex served as a Senior Financial Aid Advisor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He worked in Student Affairs for 5 ½ years, starting as a Loan Counselor at the MSU Office of Student Financial Aid. Heavily involved in his profession, Alex was elected to serve as the President-Elect for the Mississippi Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators & served as an Adjunct Faculty for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). He holds 12 national federal student aid credentials awarded by NASFAA.  Alex has worked with the city of Starkville Mayor’s Office on several projects including establishing the Mayor’s Youth Council. Alex is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He plans to remain a dedicated public servant and looks forward to making a difference in the state of Mississippi and our country.

Linda Christine Williams (Christine)
Christine Williams

I am a 4th year PhD student in Public Administration. She spent last academic year teaching undergraduate Introduction to Public Policy and Principles of Public Administration. She is currently serving as a teaching assistant in American Government courses.

This past year she had the pleasure of serving as a student representative for our PhD students.

In addition to the coursework for the PhD in PPA, Christine has completed 18+ hours of course work in the Department of Communication as well as well as meeting the requirements for a Graduate Certificate in Gender Studies. The intersection of these three areas is where her research interests can be found. Research interests combine media studies and public administration as she is interested in how public administrators are depicted in fictional entertainment television (coupled with how these depictions within fictional entertainment television affect the way that the public/masses perceive public administrators). She is from Athens, Georgia and was a 1996 graduate of the University of Georgia with a dual major in Criminal Justice and Sociology. She joined the MS State family in 2005 when her husband accepted a faculty position within the Department of Communication.

Christine graduated from Mississippi State University in 2012 with an MPPA.

She worked for Mississippi State University as a professional staff member from 2005 until 2013, when she started the PhD program as a fulltime student. She spent the first two years working as a Graduate Service Assistant with the Quality Enhancement Plan: Maroon & Write (an undergraduate writing initiative).

Hail State and Go Dogs!

Contact Info

Department of Political Science
and Public Administration
Department Phone: 662.325.2711
Department Fax: 662.325.2716
Mailing Address: P. O. Box PC
Mississippi State University, MS 39762
Department Office: 105 Bowen Hall
Email address:polscipubadm@pspa.msstate.edu