A Semester in Review – Fall 2015

As we move forward in this new year and new semester, let’s take a look back at some of the highlights that shaped this past semester, from our first event of introducing our new Ph.D. students to our celebratory graduation reception. We could not have asked for a better semester filled with faculty and student accomplishments and involvement.

new faculty resizedNew Faculty

The department was pleased to welcome four new faculty members to start the current academic year, bringing with them new expertise in their fields. Dr. Andrew Boutton shared his journey on what brought him to UCF. Dr. Boutton is an assistant professor who focuses on research and teaching interests in international relations and comparative politics. Eric Merriam, an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Political Science and Legal Studies departments. With a passion for always learning, his teaching and research interests focus on national security and constitutional law. Dr. Christopher Olds joined the department as a visiting assistant professor focusing on evaluating social science questions that span multiple fields of academic literature. Dr. Annabelle Conroy joined as a visiting lecturer, her research targets politics in developing areas influenced by equality, human rights, and protecting the environment.

Kurdish Political Studies Endowed Chair


Dean Michael Johnson (left) and Jalal Talabani Kurdish Political Studies Endowed Chair, Dr. Gunes Tezcur

Fall also brought a new position to the department, the Jalal Talabani Kurdish Political Studies Endowed Chair. The position was filled by Güneş Murat Tezcür, Ph.D., and the position is the first of its kind in the United States and complements the growing international focus at UCF.

Faculty Highlights

Throughout the fall semester, faculty were busy with new appointments and research. To begin, Dr. Peter Jacques, associate professor and internship coordinator, was appointed to the Executive Board of the Florida Climate Institute. He also received the position of CO-Director of the UCF Branch. Dr. Thomas Dolan recently published an article, “Demanding the Impossible: War, Bargaining, and Honor” in Security Studies. Likewise, Dr. Kerstin Hamann, Pegasus Professor and Chair of the Political Science, published a co-authored article, “Framing Legislative Bills in Parliament: Regional-nationalist Parties’ Strategies in Spain’s Multinational Democracy” in the journal Party Politics.

Student Highlights

phd student cohort 2015v

Fall 2015 Ph.D. cohort

We kicked off with our Ph.D. Reception, this event welcomed the eight new Ph.D. students in the Security Studies doctoral program who were treated to an afternoon of networking and connecting with mentors and peers. During the weekend of October 23-25th, the department had multiple Ph.D. security studies student present their research at the International Studies Association South annual conference. Not only were they a great representation of UCF, but they two students took home the Jim Wintakes Graduate Student Paper grand prize and runner-up awards. In addition, Marcos Degaut, a Ph.D. candidates in Security Studies  had an accomplished summer and fall semester with published papers and editorials showcased in the Brazilian newspaper, Folha de São Paulo and other prestigious journals.

30-under-30-awardeesAmong our alumni highlighted, Eddie Bradley (2004), co-founder of a video marketing agency FilmScape Productions, was able to start his business with his wife using the skills he developed as a direct result of his educational foundation here at UCF. Ybeth Bruzal (2005) was nominated and honored at the 2015 Political Science Outstanding AlumKnight awardee at the inaugural ceremony.



We also had students embarking on new journeys, for example, four students (at the junior, senior, and graduate level) were selected to intern with members of the Central Florida Legislative Delegation. The Legislative Scholars Internship is a prestigious internship opportunity for students and selections are made during the fall semester. Our department also sent students abroad to programs in Germany and Australia. Scholarships were also made available by the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence ( IC CAE), which allows students to expand their worldview and gain a diverse international experience in pursuit of a career in intelligence and national security.

Finally, the department also added two programs, a graduate certificate in Intelligence and National Security and an undergraduate minor of the same name. These were just a few of the many happenings of last semester, and we hope to have another successful semester.


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