Current and Former USC Predoctoral Fellows

To date, fellows have come from:

Columbia University George Washington University Harvard University
Ohio State University UC Berkeley UCLA
University of Chicago University of Missouri University of Nebraska-Lincoln
University of Virginia USC Yale University


We have also emphasized interdisciplinary scholarship. Fellows have come from:




International Relations

Political Science

Sabreena Croteau

Sabreena is a fourth-year doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago studying International Relations. Her dissertation, titled “Controlling the Open Door: Security, Economy, and the Development of Great Power Navies,” uses a political economy of security approach to examine the variance and development of naval power and intends to draw policy-relevant implications for the US grand strategy, the pivot to Asia, and competition with China as a rising economic power. She is also a graduate associate and deputy research director at the Chicago Project On Security and Threats, where she manages a team of undergraduate research assistants. Outside of research, she has taught both substantive IR courses and approaches to social science methodology.

Amoz JY Hor

Amoz is a PhD candidate in political science at the George Washington University and a Hans J. Morgenthau Fellow. His dissertation research investigates how domestic ideology of racialized liberalism underpins the democratic peace and the Liberal International Order. His work has been published in International Theory and in an edited volume Methodology and Emotion in International Relations. His paper, “The Affective Politics of Pop-Economics: How Racializing Japan Naturalized Protectionism and Welfare Cuts” also won the Fred Hartman Prize 2021.

Yuji Idomoto

Yuji Idomoto is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California. His research interests include the relationship between the external threat and states’ military efforts, with a particular focus on East Asian states’ response to China’s rise. Before coming to USC, he worked as a deputy director at the Ministry of Defense and the Cabinet Office in Japan. He received his MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and MA in Asian studies from George Washington University, and BA in Humanities from Tsukuba University.

Joshua Leung

Joshua Leung is a PhD Candidate in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California. His research interests lie in the applications of social and cultural psychology to status seeking and international security, with a focus on the concept offace or mianzi in East Asia. He is also interested in the interactions between China and Southeast Asian states, particularly on the South China Sea issue. He has a BA in Global Affairs from Yale-NUS College in Singapore.

Gaea Morales

Gaea Morales is a PhD candidate in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California. Her research interests are centered on the question of how global governance ideas translate into local action and the role of sub-national actors in global politics, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia. Her work focuses on issues and threats that transcend territorial boundaries, such as climate change and the prevalence of natural disasters, and the consequent (re)distribution of political power, wealth, and conflict across urban and rural spaces. She is a doctoral student affiliate at the Security and Political Economy Lab at USC. Prior to USC, she worked as a monitoring and evaluation research assistant at the United Nations Development Programme Philippines, and as a program coordinator in Los Angeles City’s efforts to localize the Sustainable Development Goals. She graduated with a BA in Diplomacy and World Affairs and French Studies from Occidental College.

Pongkwan “PK” Sawasdipakdi

Pongkwan “PK” Sawasdipakdi is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California (USC) and a returning U.S-Asia Grand Strategy Predoctoral Fellow at the USC Korean Studies Institute. She also holds a position as a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. Her research focuses on how countries react to betrayal in international politics. She is also interested in political psychology in international relations and Southeast Asia and its interactions with major powers. Pongkwan holds a BA in political science from Chulalongkorn University and an MA in Southeast Asia Studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Her publication can be found in Asian Perspective.

Ciara Sterbenz

Ciara Sterbenz is PhD candidate in Political Science at UCLA. Her research examines the intersection between domestic and international politics, exploring how domestic political climates affect behavior on the international stage, and conversely, how domestic audiences react to foreign policy. Her dissertation focuses on a subset of dyads in East Asia among South Korea, China, and Japan paying particular attention to the role of historical rivalry and legacies of colonialism and violence. She also has a strong interest in political methodology and is concurrently pursuing a Masters in Statistics at UCLA. Before coming to UCLA, she earned a BA in both Physics and Political Science at Columbia University.

Noelle Troutman

Noelle is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and returning GSP fellow studying international security– especially East Asia and the Korean Peninsula. She specializes in alliance politics, nuclear security, and neuroeconomics. Her dissertation project explores divergence in allied threat perception to develop a framework of cohesion, representing the extent to which allies cooperate. She finds that small, hierarchical alliances, like the American alliance network in East Asia, are most likely to be cohesive relative to larger, multilateral structures (e.g., NATO). In addition to this research, she is a member of the Political Attitudes and Cognition (PAC) Lab affiliated with the Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior (CB3) at UNL, a New Voices in National Security Research Fellow at the Bridging the Gap Project, Research Assistant for Dr. Jacquelyn Schneider at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, 2022-2023 Hans J. Morgenthau Fellow at the Notre Dame International Security Center, and former Summer Associate and current Adjunct in the Defense and Political Science Division at the RAND Corporation.