SPSIA Recognizes Two Graduate Students for Outstanding Work

The School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs recently recognized two graduate students for outstanding work in the terms of Summer and Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. Gunes Tezcur, Ph.D., chaired the committee that selected Kathleen Sullivan and Sandor Fabian to receive the Outstanding MA Thesis and Pollock-Ellsworth Award for Best Research Methods, respectively.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of being scholars is to observe and supervise the evolution of raw ideas into full-fledged research projects,” Tezcur said. “The theses of both Katy and Sandor exemplify how the application of social science methods can address intricate political and security related questions. SPSIA congratulates both of our graduates and wishes them the very best in their future endeavors.”

Outstanding MA Thesis

Kathleen Sullivan
“Commitment and Credibility in FDI”

Sullivan’s research question focuses on the factors that can explain contract breach in foreign direct investment (FDI); that is, under what conditions contract breach in countries receiving FDI is more or less likely. She suggests that companies are more likely to invest in a country where their assets are protected and contracts honored.  Consequently contract compliance is most likely when firms are involved in supply chains, and when the host country has a preferential trade agreement (PTA). Her findings demonstrate that the least amount of cases (using data on cases submitted to and rulings from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes for 1992-2008) filed involved supply chains and PTAs. Only 4% of cases involved supply chains and PTAs, lending support to her hypothesis that these two factors protect FDIs.

Major Professor: Kerstin Hamann

“Developing and writing my own thesis was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had to date. The guidance from my instructors brought the best out of me and I am forever grateful for their help,” Sullivan said.

Pollock-Ellsworth Award for Best Research Methods

Sandor Fabian
“Improving foreign militaries – The effects of U.S. military aid in the form of international military education and training programs”

Fabian’s dissertation examines the effects of U.S. foreign military assistance programs on a variety of outcomes ranging from the military organizational structure and culture of foreign partner countries to the impact of such assistance on the effectiveness of foreign military forces. He drew separate, random samples of Hungarian soldiers who have participated in some US military education and training program, and those who have not. His survey included instruments to measure participants’ views on the military’s role in a democracy; their views toward the rights of civilians; the politicization of the military; and the participants’ future career trajectories. He used nearest-neighbor and propensity score matching techniques to mitigate the possibility that those who hold more “democratic” views are more likely to be selected for training. He finds that those who participated directly in these training programs held more favorable views of democracy, viewed military interference in politics as less acceptable, and were more likely to consider the protection of human rights to be paramount.

Major Professor: Andrew Boutton

“I very much appreciate the honor to receive the prestigious Pollock-Ellsworth Award for my dissertation. I could not achieve such success without the incredible support and mentorship I received from my UCF professors and peers in the School of Politics, Security and International Affairs. I am very happy I was able to successfully defend my Ph.D. in the virtual presence of many of the amazing people that helped shaping my research and even happier that my work was recognized with this award. After graduation I will continue my pursuit of scientific excellence as a Strategy and Political Advisor at NATO and do my best to reflect great credit upon my program and UCF.”


Comments are closed.