Research Candidates' Projects

Our candidates study a wide variety of topics in the political science field. Read more about the topics they are exploring here.


Thesis: Distribution of Political Power in Federal, Quasi-Federal and Unitary States and Their Influence on Minority Political Participation and Institutional Changes of Democratic Countries in the World and in the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand since 1970s?

The philosophical background of the study lies on the interest in examining the relationship between structure and actor. This study focuses on the influence of political institutions, namely federal, quasi-federal and unitary states, on political participation and institutional changes through historical institutionalism by using mixed method (both quantitative and qualitative).

Patrick previously gained his Bachelor of Social Sciences in Applied Sociology and Master of Arts in Public Policy and Management from City University of Hong Kong. Coming from Hong Kong with a one country two systems background, Patrick has a strong interest in studying how political institutions could affect political participation in the process of democratization.

His research interests include:

  • Comparative Politics
  • Democratization
  • Institutionalism


Thesis:  ‘Rethinking populism: Can populists also be progressives? What is progressive populism?’

Before Patrick began a HDR at Griffith University he was a media and marketing officer for a tech company in Japan, a political staffer for a Labor Senator and Politics and Policy advisor for Greenpeace Australia.

Patrick has also worked with a wide variety of NGOs and Not-for-Profits such as 350 Australia, the Brisbane Youth Service and Mayem Mudh, an indigenous accommodation and transportation service.

Patrick’s research interests are:

  • political parties and narratives
  • social movements and
  • populism.


Thesis: Latin American foreign policy behaviours towards China in the 21st century: a neoclassical realist analysis

Diego Leiva is a Chilean and a PhD Candidate at the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University. His thesis focuses on Sino–South American relations in the twenty-first century, from an International Relations Theory perspective (neoclassical realism).

His main research interests are:

  • International Relations theory;
  • Sino – Latin American relations;
  • Latin American foreign policy;
  • China’s foreign policy.

His latest publications are:

See Diego's Linkedin Profile here


Thesis: Gender Politics and the adoption of work-family policies in Latin America

Diana has a BA and licentiate degree in Political Science from the University of Costa Rica and a MA in Development and Governance from Duisburg-Essen University in Germany. Currently, her PhD project: “Gender Politics and the adoption of work-family policies in Latin America”, she is analysing the social and political factors that explain the adoption of work-family policies in the global South.

Work-family policies are one of the most pressing issues for gender equality in contemporary societies and so far, the dynamics behind the adoption of these policies have received scarce attention in non-industrialized countries. Utilising a small- N comparative research design, her research aims to develop an in-depth understanding about these dynamics with the potential to inform theory about gender politics in the global South.

In addition to her PhD research project, she is teaching and a research assistant in the School of Government and International Relations (SGIR).

See Diana's Linkedin profile here


Thesis: International Refugee Law in Southeast Asia

Thu Anh Nguyen obtained her B.A. in International Studies at Hue University of Foreign Languages, Vietnam and M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies at Chualongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. She has had seven years of teaching at the Department of International Studies, Hue University of Foreign Languages, Vietnam. She is currently a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University.

Her research interests centers around the international refugee laws, norms operationalization in international relations, and ASEAN diplomacy. Her first research monography entitled “ASEAN and the Responsibility to Protect: Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar” was published by the Institute of Asian Studies in Bangkok in 2018.

Research expertise

  • International relations
  • International refugee law
  • Conflict resolution
  • ASEAN diplomac


Thesis: Sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict areas: a case study of Myanmar

Phyu Phyu worked with the United Nations to implement the Gender Based Violence programme in armed conflict areas of Myanmar before initiating her PhD candidature at  Griffith University. She graduated with a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University in 2015 and holds a  Bachelor of Pharmacy. Her professional experiences lie in programme management and implementation of public health programme and gender-based violence programme.

Her first article ‘Muslim Women Education in Myanmar’ was published in the book, Islam and the State in Myanmar edited by Melissa Crouch and it is her passion to support women and girls from her community, country and around the world for their movements of gender emancipation.

Her area of research interest includes:

  • Sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls
  • Sexual violence against children
  • Sexual violence and legal justice

See Phyu Phyu's Linkedin profile here


Thesis: Australian MPs in the Electorate: Constituency Work and the Problem of Representation

Pan’s PhD research focuses on the day-to-day grassroots connection between Members of Parliament (MP) in Australia and their electorates. By examining MPs motivations and actions Pan hopes to shed light on the lived reality of democracy in Australia, as it exists outside of the structured, antagonistic parliamentary arena. This study aims to bridge the gap between studies of elected representatives, the professionalisation of political parties and the ever-changing nature of the postmodern state. Through interviews and ethnographic field observation it will seek to untangle the puzzle of why so many citizens say, ‘All politicians are crooks, but my local member is different’.

Pan has contributed to research at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy on a variety of topics including: populism, political parties, foreign policy and Australian political history. He has contributed to the Australian Society for Quantitative Political Science as a panel discussant at its Annual Conference 2018

See Pan's Linkedin profile here


Thesis: Australia's Official Development Assistance to India: In the Donor's Interest?

Teesta has previously completed a masters degree in International Relations at the Australian National University in Canberra. Her research interests include Australian and Indian foreign policy focusing on the Official Development Assistance (foreign aid) between 1960 and 2011.

She is also teaching Introduction to International Relations (1001GIR) at the Nathan Campus of Griffith University.

She writes for Australian Institute for International Affairs publication Australian Outlook.  Read her recent article here.

See Teesta's Linkedin profile here


Thesis: Small Island States foreign policies: balancing geopolitical realities and domestic aspirations

Mélodie Ruwet is a PhD student interested in finding out more about the agency of small states in international affairs. She is particularly keen to understand how small island states can lead the way on specific global issues.  Aside from agency, her research interests include creative diplomacy, climate politics and sustainability, role theory and non-traditional security.

Mélodie is a Belgian national and completed a Master of International Relations (Diplomacy and Conflict Resolutions) at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain). She has experience living and working abroad, having previously lived and worked in Chile (at the UN-Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), and in China.

See Mélodie's Linkedin profile here


Extraordinary Decisions: Migrant Decision-Making on the Sahara Desert Crossing

Migration is a significant and growing trend of this century. A record number of people are on the move. Some of the routes are dangerous and pose great risk. There are four broad mixed-migration routes being travelled by some of the most vulnerable migrants. These include routes through Central America and Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea, Southeast Asia, and the Sahara Desert.

Daniel's research focuses on migrants making the crossing through the Sahara Desert. An investigation into the respective decision-making processes of those who either abandon or complete a risky journey.

A migrants vulnerability increases with each step taken, the further out to sea travelled. For most, there are zero too little protections built into any legal statute or policy. The more we know about why some abandon their journey, while others continue, the more we can support better humanitarian responses and policies to protect.

See Daniel's Linkedin profile here


Contact our HDR Convenor: Dr Cosmo Howard