PhD Job Candidates


Colin Johnson  
Curriculum Vita
Colin Johnson is a seventh year Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Politics and International Relations from Aledo, Texas. He received his B.A. in International Studies from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and a M.A. in Political Science from Brown University. His research focuses on politics surrounding the management of international migration and population growth, but also includes development, ethnic conflict, and xenophobia in public discourse. His geographic specialization is Russia and post-Soviet Eurasia, though he is interested in the aforementioned issues in hybrid regimes worldwide. Most recently, he was an Interdisciplinary Opportunity Fellow at the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University (2015-2016). His year-long dissertation fieldwork in Kazan, Russia was funded by an IREX IARO Fellowship (2013-2014), and his research was also supported by an NSF-IGERT Fellowship at the Watson Institute (2012-2013). Colin also received a Teaching Fellowship in Spring 2015 from the Department of Political Science to teach "Survey of Comparative Politics." He is a trainee in the Graduate Program in Development, in the GIS Methods Institute, and in the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. 

Minh Ly
Curriculum Vitae
Minh Ly received his PhD with distinction in May 2014. He is currently the Values and Public Policy Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University, with a joint appointment in the Center for Human Values and the Woodrow Wilson School. His research in political theory focuses on democratic theory, global justice, ethics and public policy, human rights, and the justice of international finance. He is turning his dissertation into a book manuscript, Global Deliberation: A Human Right to Deliberative Democracy. The manuscript develops intrinsic and instrumental arguments for a human right to deliberative democracy, and applies that right to the state's relation to its citizens, to its impact on non-citizens, and to international organizations. Two chapters have been accepted as panel papers at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting. As part of his work on global governance institutions and international political economy, Ly has published an article, "Special Drawing Rights, the Dollar, and the Institutionalist Approach to Reserve Currency Status" in the Review of International Political Economy, and a chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Global Economic Governance. Before coming to Brown, Ly earned his A.B. in social studies from Harvard University, and worked at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. 

Matthew J. Lyddon 
Matthew J. Lyddon defended his dissertation in September 2015 and received his diploma at Brown's May 2016 Commencement ceremony. His dissertation, 'Value Integrity Civics: A New Approach for Crafting Liberal Democratic Citizens,' constructs a new approach in normative political theory to the role of the state as educator, supporting students as future citizens in integrating core liberal political values with those of their moral and religious traditions. More generally, Matt's primary research interests encompass contemporary forms of political liberalism, education, political ethics, leadership, and the intersection of democratic theory and constitutional law. Matt maintains a professional interest in citizenship and leadership education, having previously co-authored an educational resource for students aged 16-18, which explores the history of democracy and voting rights in the UK. He also originated and has twice taught the 'Ethical Leadership' class in the summer program at Brown Leadership Institute. For more information and a current CV, please visit 

Kevin McGravey  
Curriculum Vitae
Kevin received his doctorate in May 2016. He specializes in public law, political theory and American political development. His dissertation, Public Rights: Public Liberty and the First Amendment, focuses on the First Amendment rights to assembly and petition and their effect on free expression in U.S. Constitutional Law. The project traces the largely forgotten constitutional history and practice of assembly and petition and develops a doctrine of free expression grounded in these rights. Chapters of the dissertation have been presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting and the New England Political Science Association Annual Meeting. Kevin's teaching focuses on constitutional law and political theory and he was the recipient of the P. Terrence Hopmann Award for Excellence in Teaching for his work in Topics in Constitutional Law. Prior to coming to Brown, he received a B.A. in Religion from Haverford College and an M.T.S., magna cum laude, from Duke Divinity School.

Megan Turnbull 
Curriculum Vitae 
Megan Turnbull is an eighth year Ph.D. candidate in comparative politics. Her research interests include armed non-state actors, electoral violence, internal conflict, political development, and African politics. Megan’s dissertation examines different relationships between state actors and armed groups, looking specifically at cases of collaboration, toleration, repression, and armed conflict in Nigeria. She is also currently working on a separate project on militia behavior vis-à-vis civilians. Her field research in Nigeria has been supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation (2013-2014) and the Graduate Program in Development at Brown University (2011 & 2012). Megan is currently a co-managing editor for the journal Studies in Comparative International Development.  Prior to her doctoral studies, Megan received a M.A. in Political Science (cum laude) from Leiden University and earned a B.A. in Political Science (summa cum laude) from the University at Albany. For more, you can visit her website at  

Aaron Weinstein  
Curriculum Vitae
Aaron Weinstein received his doctorate in May 2016. He is from Nashua, NH.  He received his B.A. from Cornell University, graduating with Magna cum laude honors in Government as well as the Esman prize for best senior honors thesis. After his senior year, he enrolled in the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) - where he did one year of masters work focusing on religion and ethics in public policy - before coming to Brown.  His area of interest is the intersection of American politics and faith, especially: the American civil religion, atheism in the public sphere, and the repercussions of religious pluralism in a liberal democracy.

Liza Williams 
Curriculum Vitae
Liza B. Williams received her doctorate in May 2016. She studies Political Theory and International Relations. Her research in political theory focuses on contemporary democratic thought, immigrant justice, ethics and public policy, the concept of sovereignty, and the history of political thought, especially the work of Rousseau. Her dissertation, Hospitality and the Horizons of Democracy: Responsibilities to Immigrants, develops a new ethical practice of hospitality and examines the reasons why liberal democracies may have certain obligations to immigrants and other categories of noncitizens. Currently, she is an Interdisciplinary Opportunity Fellow at The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Prior to doctoral studies, Liza worked at an international NGO on topics relating to Asian regional affairs and the development of democratic institutions abroad. Liza holds a M.A. from Columbia University in Political Science and an A.B. from Dartmouth College.