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Herb York IGCC Dissertation Fellows


Ariel Petrovics


Ariel Petrovics
Political Science, UC Davis

Proposal Title: Inducing Nuclear Reversal: Foreign Policy Effectiveness and Deproliferation

The international community has worked for decades to combat the spread of nuclear weapons, but new proliferators continue to emerge. Despite clear policy implications, we know very little about how to reverse ongoing weapons pursuits. When and under what conditions will foreign policies most effectively encourage nuclear reversal in proliferating states? I suggest that positive inducements are more effective than coercive strategies, leading to reversal more often, more rapidly, and with a lower risk of perverse proliferation. However, the magnitude of their effect depends on existing state relationships, meaning nuclear-armed rivals illicit a stronger response than do non-nuclear allies. I employ quantitative and case study analyses to examine the likelihood, rate, and sustainability of nuclear reversal. This work sheds light on foreign policy effectiveness with implications for current nuclear crises and international security strategies more broadly.


Brandon Merrell


Brandon Merrell
Political Science, UC San Diego

Proposal Title: Wars for the People: Leaders, Audiences, and the Use of Force

My research explores how and why political actors share, withhold, and frame information for domestic and international audiences. In my dissertation, I examine how leaders influence and respond to public opinion about military conflict. I show that leaders who are pessimistic about the use of military force often face incentives to conceal their doubts from hawkish constituents and international observers. Given these incentives, leaders will sometimes escalate conflicts even though they privately believe that a peaceful settlement is preferable. In other projects, I analyze the announcement and concealment of international military alliances, evaluate how powerful countries persuade weaker proxies to cooperate on security issues, identify variation in the content and tone of questions that reporters pose to political officials, and examine whether politicians attempt to claim political credit by renaming and reorganizing federal agencies.


Jack Zhang


Jiakun (Jack) Zhang
Political Science, UC San Diego

Proposal Title: Multinational Firms and the Microfoundations of the Commercial Peace

My research interests lie at the intersection of international political economy and security, with a focus on contemporary China. My dissertation investigates the impact of interstate conflict on multinational firms operating in belligerent countries as well as the political strategies that these firms adopt to influence the policies of home and host governments. Firms play a crucial and understudied role in commercial peace theories; my research seeks to explore their role as strategic actors in the politics of war and peace. Prior to coming to UC San Diego, I worked as a China researcher for the Eurasia Group in Washington, DC. I was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant to conduct fieldwork in Beijing on the economic effects of political crises on China based foreign multinationals during the 2014-2015 academic year.