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Department of Political Science graduate students have won several major awards for research and teaching across a variety of perspectives and topics. A selection of these grants and awards are presented below.


Zack Albert:

Martha Balaguera

  • Inter-American Foundation Grassroots Development Fellowship (2016-2017). Martha received a one-year fellowship to conduct ethnographic research in Mexico for the project 'We are all migrants,' a study of citizenship in transit and the perils and promises of crossing Mexico. Her research examines how the meaning and practice of citizenship is transformed through the encounter of citizens and noncitizens in the context of international migration, with a focus on the experiences of transit of people from Central America crossing Mexico.
  • UMass Graduate School Summer 2016 Dissertation Fellowship (Summer 2016)
  • Joyce Berkman Outstanding Feminist Research Award (2014-2015)

Mia Costa

  • John Sprague Award (July 2016)
  • Pluribus Project - Political Game Changer (2015-2016)
  • Research support ($15,000) from the Environmental Defense Fund for get-out-the-vote field experiment Highbeam Research

Ivelisse Cuevas-Molina: 

Nicole Daphnis:

Samantha Davis:

Usmaan Farooqui: 

Alyssa Grahame: 

  • Fulbright Fellowship Research GrantAlyssa Maraj Grahame received a 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholarship to continue her dissertation research in Iceland. Grahame, who has spent the spring semester in Iceland through the National Science Foundation-funded Culture and Heritage in European Societies and Spaces (CHESS) Program, used the Fulbright funding to investigate Iceland’s Pots and Pans Revolution in light of the ongoing European economic crises.
  • Leifur Eirikson Fellowship (2014-2015)

James Heilman:

  • Adam Smith Fellowship (2015-2016). One year fellowship to participate in discussions and events hosted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University on foundational texts in political economy.

Kevin Anthony Henderson: 

Mohsen Jalali:

Rebecca Lisi:

  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant for her dissertation "Latino Race Cards? Demographic Change, Negative Campaign Advertisements, and White Mobilization," a multi-method research project. Rebecca wrote her NSF proposal during a Dissertation Writing Retreat sponsored by the Graduate School and the University Writing Center during the summer of 2015. A childcare reimbursement helped offset additional expenses during this period of writing. In 2015 Rebecca won a Graduate School Dissertation Research Grant. 

Benjamin Nolan:

Alix Olson:

Ana Maria Ospina Pedraza:

Khorapin Phuaphansawat: 

  • 2016 Pattana Kitiarsa Prize (July 2016). This award is given for the best student paper on Southeast Asia by the Association for Asian Studies. Her paper is entitled, "’My Eyes are Open but My Lips are Whispering’: Anti-Royalism in Thailand after the 2006 Coup d’Etat." Her advisor, Professor Timothy Pachirat, has called her paper politically courageous and intellectually innovative.

Luz Maria Sanchez Duque:

Tyler Schuenemann: 

  • Fulbright Fellowship – Oman (2015-2016). Dissertation fieldwork in Oman, including interviews, ethnography, and archival research (10 months).
  • Dissertation Research Grant - UMass Amherst (2015-2016). Funds to pay a research assistant to help translate 50 interviews from various Omani dialects, which were archived as part of an oral history project that documented the impact of Cyclone Gonu (2007) on the eastern coast of Oman.
  • Critical Language Scholarship - Language Study Grant (2014-2015). Intensive study of the Arabic language in Nizwa, Oman (2 months).

Eric Sippert: 

Kira Tait:

  • Fulbright Group Projects Abroad Award for Zulu language study in South Africa (Summer 2017). The Fulbright-Hays Zulu offers students an opportunity to advance their language and cultural competency in the Zulu language through interaction with Zulu-speaking faculty, staff, students and families in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The eight-week program combines intensive classroom instruction with home stays (urban and rural settings), lecture seminars, outreach cultural activities, and visits to historical and cultural sites.
  • Fulbright Fellowship (2018-2019): Kira has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to conduct her dissertation field research in South Africa for the 2018-2019 academic year. Her dissertation is entitled, "Roadblocks to Access: Interpretations of Legal Institutions in Post-Apartheid South Africa," and will explore how ordinary South Africans make sense of rights and courts when making claims to their constitutionally guaranteed socio-economic rights.
  • NSF Law and Social Sciences Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (2018)
  • UMass Graduate School Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2018)

Melinda Tarsi:

  • Presidential Award for Distinguished Teaching (2018). The award "recognizes outstanding performance and/or innovation in teaching at either the undergraduate or graduate level. It is presented annually to no more than two Bridgewater State University faculty members who have taught as full-time faculty at the university for at least two years. 

Amber Vayo: UMass Graduate School Dissertation Fieldwork Grant (2020)

Alper Yagci:

Basileus Zeno (2018):

  • Civil Society Scholar Award - Open Society Institute. Doctoral student Zeno has been awarded a highly competitive $10,000 Civil Society Scholar Award from the Open Society Institute. The Civil Society Scholar Awards (CSSA) support international academic mobility to enable doctoral students and university faculty to access resources that enrich socially engaged research and critical scholarship in their home country or region. The awards support activities such as fieldwork (data collection); research visits to libraries, archives, or universities; course/curriculum development; and international collaborations leading to peer-reviewed publication. Civil Society Scholars are selected on the basis of their outstanding contributions to research or other engagement with local communities, to furthering debates on challenging societal questions, and to strengthening critical scholarship and academic networks within their fields.
  • Best Graduate Student Paper in Religion and International Relations​ Award from the International Studies Association.
    The Paper Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the broadly defined field of Religion and International Relations. It recognizes promising young scholars from a broad scope of disciplines and topics. Basileurs's paper, "The Political Culture of Sectarianism in Syria, 2011-2013" was cited by the award committee for "how it was able to build an argument based on original research and experiences, and provide extensive detailed information on what happened in Syria."  Basileus' developed this paper in fulfillment of the Graduate Program at the Department of Political Science's comprehensive examination in Contemporary Social and Political Theory.



Basileus Zeno: Nominated for the Distinguished Teaching Award (2016-2017)  The University of Massachusetts Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award nomination begins with a nomination by one's students.

Kevin Anthony Henderson: Pi Sigma Alpha Best Teaching Assistantship Award (2015-2016)
The Pi Sigma Alpha Best Teaching Assistantship Award is voted upon by all political science and legal studies majors for the best teaching assistant in the Political Science Department at UMass Amherst.

Tyler Schuenemann: Pi Sigma Alpha Best Teaching Assistant, Department of Political Science (2014-2015)
Voted "Best Teaching Assistant" for the 2014-2015 academic year by students and members of the Delta Lambda chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society.