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 and below are the first alumni.

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.