DPhil in Public Policy alumni

The Doctorate in Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government is a three-year programme. The first students were admitted in autumn 2014. Find out more about our DPhil alumni below.

Christina Economy
Christina Economy

Prior to joining the Blavatnik School of Government, Christina Economy worked as an Innovation Fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL). At the GPL, she worked directly with various state and local governments on outcomes-based commissioning projects aimed to expand access to early childhood education programmes. She also worked extensively on research and publications in other project policy areas, including behavioural health, homelessness, criminal justice and adult education. She is interested in the ways government provides social programmes, and how it can do so more effectively to better serve vulnerable populations. While completing her Master of Public Policy from the University of Cambridge, she worked with the UK Cabinet Office Centre for Social Impact Bonds and the UK Department for Education on a project aimed to reduce early years disadvantage. Previously, she has also worked with the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the US Department of State. She holds a summa cum laude BA in Economics and International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and is originally from Hilo, Hawaii.

José Maria Valenzuela
José Maria Valenzuela

José María Valenzuela is a research fellow at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford. He works on critical political economy and the politics of knowledge in decarbonisation – in particular of energy. His doctoral research project, 'Knowledge brokers and regulatory capacity in the decarbonisation of electricity systems', developed a comparative study between liberalised and state-dominated industries in Chile, China, Mexico and the UK, to argue for the need to focus on the latent regulatory capacity embedded in non-market actors, like universities. This research project received the Giandomenico Majone Prize from the European Consortium on Political Research standing group on Regulatory Governance in June 2021.

Previously, he worked for Mexico’s Department of Energy on climate change and renewable energy policy. On the same topics, he worked or consulted for international (IADB, UNIDO and UNEP), transnational (WWF), and national organisations in Mexico (FDS) and the United States (NREL). Before joining Oxford, he obtained degrees from El Colegio de Mexico, Tsinghua University and The University of Chicago.

You can access his academic publications and read more details in his website: https://josemariav.github.io/

Fadi Salem
Fadi Salem

Fadi Salem has over fifteen years of multidisciplinary working experience in the public sector, technology, media and policy research fields. Over the past decade, he has led regional policy research in the Middle East and North Africa focusing on digital governance, the internet, public policy and innovation in society as Director of the Governance and Innovation Program, and Fellow, at the Dubai School of Government (now MBRSG). He was previously an Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; and a Fellow at the I+I Policy Research Centre, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. His areas of experience span open government, social media, smart cities, citizen engagement, youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, e-participation, 'future of government' models, and the impact of digital media on political and societal discourses in the Middle East.

A Syrian from the ancient city of Aleppo, Fadi is engaged in the emerging civil society in his country and in efforts to ‘brain-save’ Syrian youth and refugees affected by the conflict. He co-founded several initiatives and NGOs such as Jusoor (https://jusoorsyria.com/), which supports education, scholarship and entrepreneurship for thousands of Syrian youth and refugees.

At the Blavatnik School, Fadi's research explored the shift in governance approaches in the Arab region towards digital governance in the social media era and the multi-faceted impact of the transition on governance structures and civil society. His research was grounded in the areas of contemporary governance models and the impact of the internet, innovation in government-citizens interactions, as well as the emerging frameworks of e-participation in the age of the social web.

Muhammad Khudadad Chattha
Muhammad Khudadad Chattha

After completing his DPhil in Public Policy, Muhammad Khudadad Chattha joined the World Bank as a Young Professional, building on his extensive multi-sector experience of working on issues related to public finance. During his DPhil, Khudadad analysed academic and policy-relevant questions related to tax enforcement and income inequality in developing country contexts, using large-scale administrative tax data. He regularly writes opinion pieces in leading newspapers in Pakistan (these are regularly shared via his Twitter and LinkedIn accounts).

Prior to the DPhil, Khudadad worked as civil a servant in Pakistan’s tax administration where he was responsible for the enforcement of federal taxes, such as income tax and sales tax. He also worked as part of Unilever’s Future Leaders Program, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the United Nations.

Khudadad majored in Accounting and Finance during his undergraduate studies at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, studied tax laws as part of his civil service training, and did a master's in International Development (MPA/ID) at the Harvard Kennedy School. During his time at Harvard, Khudadad was a Fulbright scholar and won the Raymond Vernon Award for his commitment to international development.

Zahra Mansoor
Zahra Mansoor

After completing her DPhil in Public Policy, Zahra Mansoor joined the Blavatnik School as a Postdoctoral Researcher for the Deliver Education Reforms project (DeliverEd). Her research focuses on policy implementation, public service delivery, civil service reform, and health and education policy.

Previously, Zahra has worked as a governance consultant at the World Bank, working with the Punjab and Sindh governments in Pakistan on technology-based reforms for improving service delivery; and she has trained senior-level bureaucrats and politicians on evidence-based decision-making as the research and training lead at the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan. She has also worked across London, Zambia, Uganda and Mozambique as a hub economist at the International Growth Center and a project lead at the Innovations for Poverty Action. Zahra holds an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Yeajin Yoon
Yeajin Yoon

Yeajin Yoon is a 2020–21 Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program and an Associate at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her research examines how states use institutionalised cooperation to manage security relations, with an additional focus on nuclear security issues in Northeast Asia. She has previously held fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School’s International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom and Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. Yeajin is also a Blavatnik School alumna (MPP 2014).

Her DPhil thesis investigated the evolution of trilateral cooperation among the Republic of Korea, Japan and the People’s Republic of China.

Claire Cullen
Claire Cullen

Claire Cullen undertook the DPhil in Public Policy after completing a master's in International Development Policy at Georgetown University. She holds a BA in Economics and International Relations from the University of Sydney and Honours from the Australian National University.

Claire has worked on a range of international development issues in the Asia-Pacific and Africa regions. She helped design and conduct impact evaluations of education and gender-based violence prevention programmes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo with Innovations for Poverty Action and the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab. Previously, she worked as an Economist at the Australian Agency for International Development for three years, and prior to that, as an advisor to the head of Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department.

Claire’s primary research interests are in behavioural and development economics and promoting evidence-based policy. After completing her DPhil, Claire joined the Blavatnik School as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, where her research focuses on understanding how to successfully scale interventions in health and education. Another strand of her research is focused on understanding the causes of, and effective prevention of, intimate partner violence, and more broadly on the social and behavioural frictions that contribute to gender inequality.

Noam Angrist
Noam Angrist

Noam Angrist's interests centre on translating evidence on 'what works' to enable young people to thrive into scaled intervention and policy. He is a co-founder of Young 1ove, one of the largest NGOs in Botswana dedicated to scaling up programmes backed by rigorous randomised trial evidence that enable youth to thrive. The organisation has reached over 75,000 youth in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa; run randomised trials in partnership with J-PAL; solidified multi-year partnerships with UNICEF, USAID and the Brookings Institution; and signed an MOU with the Botswana government to scale up evidence-based programmes nationally.

Noam has also led key aspects of the development of the World Bank Human Capital Index education pillar. This includes the development of Harmonized Learning Outcomes and a new global measure of education, Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling, which has been adopted as an indicator by the World Bank, DFID (now FCDO) and USAID to track education systems at the country level and to inform priority investments among cost-effective education programmes and policies. Noam was also part of the core World Bank team that launched the Global Evidence in Education Advisory Panel.

Noam has a BS in Mathematics and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD from the University of Oxford where he was a Rhodes scholar. Noam also conducted research at the University of Botswana as a Fulbright Scholar, and has been recognised by Forbes 30Under30 and is a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum.

Jieun Baek
Jieun Baek

Jieun Baek is the Founder and Director of Lumen, an NGO that works to send information into North Korea, and a research affiliate at Oxford's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. She is a former research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she wrote her first book, North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society (Yale University Press, 2016). During her fellowship, she also conducted US foreign policy research and joined Track II dialogues to discuss the challenges that North Korea’s nuclear programme presents in an evolving Asia region.

Jieun came to the Blavatnik School in 2016, where her research focused on the early stages of dissent in authoritarian regimes. Her thesis investigates the factors that motivate first movers of dissent in Burma, and potential causal pathways that lead to dissent escalation.

Helen Baxendale
Helen Baxendale

Helen Baxendale started her DPhil at the Blavatnik School in 2016 after completing an MPhil in Comparative Social Policy, for which she was awarded a distinction, at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. She has previously worked as a policy advisor to the Minister for Education and the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament, and as a high school History and English teacher.

Helen’s primary research interest is the politics of education policymaking in developed economies. Her DPhil thesis focused on the rapid growth of Teach for America – a programme which brings young leaders into low-income schools to teach for a minimum of two years – as a means of exploring the broader contours of education reform politics in the United States.

Linda Bilmes
Linda Bilmes

Linda Bilmes began her DPhil at the Blavatnik School in 2014. She is a leading expert on budgeting and public finance and is the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Public Finance at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she teaches courses on budgeting and financial management. She served as Assistant Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer of the US Department of Commerce from 1998 to 2001, and currently represents the United States on the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration. Linda is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and is affiliated with the Belfer Center for International Affairs, the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, and the Taubman Center for State and Local Government.

Her DPhil thesis was entitled '"Ghost Budget": Explaining US budgetary deviations during the post-9/11 wars'.

Richard Sedlmayr
Richard Sedlmayr

Richard Sedlmayr started his DPhil in 2015 having worked as a management consultant, an economist, a research manager and a philanthropic advisor, with a geographic emphasis on Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. His interest include the organisation of the social and development sector: for instance, in how its agents navigate competing motivations and accountability structures, and how peripheral institutions (such as research bodies or the capital markets) can help improve resource allocation or may fall short of their potential.

Richard's areas of research at the School included behavioural design, social protection and scaling, and his thesis was entitled 'Essays on the scale-up of extensions to cash transfers'. He graduated in November 2019.

Juan David Gutiérrez Rodríguez
Juan David Gutiérrez Rodríguez

Juan David Gutiérrez Rodríguez came to the Blavatnik School in 2014 having worked in Colombia’s extractive sector, mainly in legal and corporate affairs, and as an advisor to the Colombian Minister of Justice. He had also worked at a leading law firm and lectured undergraduate courses at Javeriana University’s Law School and Los Andes University’s Law School. At Oxford, Juan David researched the political economy of oil revenues in Colombia at a subnational level, with a particular focus on the investment of these revenues by municipal governments that are abundant and/or dependent on natural resource rents. Juan David graduated in January 2019. His DPhil thesis explored the political economy of oil wealth and the connections between oil revenues and armed conflict, ‘Oil and state capture: the subnational links between oil revenues and armed conflict in Colombia’.

Read Juan David's posts about his DPhil experience in the Blavatnik School’s blog.

Ben Abraham
Ben Abraham

Ben Abraham joined the Blavatnik School after an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy at the University of Oxford. Having worked for the Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the United Nations in New York and for a technology start-up company in Zambia, Ben had also developed extensive experience with a range of youth non-governmental organisations and conducted applied research on organisational resilience in his home country of New Zealand.

For his doctorate, Ben focused on transnational climate change governance. His thesis was entitled 'Ideas and Transnational Climate Change Governance: How Environmental Beliefs Shape REDD+Projects' and he completed his DPhil in December 2018.

Ivaylo Iaydjiev
Ivaylo Iaydjiev

Ivaylo Iaydjiev was an advisor to the Bulgarian deputy-minister of defence during the caretaker government of 2014 with a focus on the NATO Wales summit and defence policy planning and reform. Prior to that, he was a strategy and policy analyst at the Office of the President of Bulgaria and a trainee at the European Commission's DG Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. Ivaylo is also a Senior Researcher at the European Policy Institute in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he works on issues related to the European Banking Union, euro-area governance, and South-East European political economy. He is also a frequent commentator in Bulgarian and European media. Ivaylo finished his DPhil in autumn 2018 with a thesis focused on the impact of proliferation of alternative regional financing arrangements on the behaviour of the International Monetary Fund. He looked closely at the political economy of the 2007-8 financial crisis in Europe and the critical lessons that the IMF should learn from its programmes in Hungary, Latvia, and Greece. 

Read Ivaylo's student experience. 

Read Ivaylo's alumni profile.

Vijay Damera
Vijay Kumar Damera

Vijay Kumar Damera, a development professional and a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), India’s premier civil service, for 14 years before starting the DPhil. He finished his DPhil in September 2018 and has since returned to India to work on the formulation and implementation of social policy. Vijay is currently posted as Secretary in the Planning and Finance departments in the challenging north eastern state of Meghalaya. His DPhil was in the field of economics of education - he evaluated the impact of India's national school choice policy on children's outcomes and investigated related questions central to the theoretical and empirical debates on school choice in developing countries.