Brannon, Bichay awarded Spring PhD Awards

May 6, 2021

MSU PLS is pleased to announce that PhD students Lizzie Brannon and Nicolas Bichay have been awarded the PhD Awards for 2021.

brannon bichayBrannon was given the 2021 Writing Award for her research article "Women's Political Representation in African Rebel Parties." Graduate Director Dr. Sarah Reckhow said Brannon's original research showed that women are twice as likely to be represented in politics in post-conflict states due to the involvement of rebel parties who recruit and run significantly higher number of women.


Dr. Bichay, who succesfully defended his dissertation this week, was given the Teaching Award for his work on PLS 201 Introduction to Methods of Political Analysis. Dr. Shahryar Minhas said Dr. Bichay earned accolades both from his students and from other professors who went on to teach the students in higher level programming courses and found them much more prepared. 

"There was a marked improvement in the students from the start," Dr. Minhas said. 

 Lizzie is a 2020-2021 USIP-Minerva Peace and Security Scholar Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Her dissertation, “The Role of Women in Former Rebel Parties in Post-Conflict Africa,” examines the role of women in rebel groups that have transitioned into political parties. The project will utilize data collected from fieldwork in Uganda and will analyze the political ambition and opportunities among former female fighters, as well as the roots of their exclusion from political power.

Beyond her dissertation research, Lizzie’s fields of study are International Relations and Quantitative Research Methodology. She is interested in gender and conflict, women’s political representation, peacebuilding, and post-war politics. Specifically, her research examines how women’s engagement in conflict influences peace outcomes and changes to gender equality.

Lizzie graduated with honors from James Madison University in 2017 with a B.A. in International Affairs and minors in Humanitarian Affairs and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. Her research has received support from Michigan State University’s Center for Gender in a Global Context and the College of Social Science. 

Dr. Bichay joined the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University as a doctoral student in August of 2015. He received his Master of Arts degree in Political Science from Michigan State University, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Economics from Grand Valley State University. Prior to discovering political science, Nicolas was a student of physics and computer programming, however he quickly learned how much more personally rewarding it was to use these skills to study elections and government.

Nicolas’s fields of study include comparative politics and research methodology. His area of research focuses on political economy, elections, and statistical modeling. Specifically, he is interested in radical and populist parties, electoral institutions, economic development and inequality, and democratic stability. His dissertation focuses on the rise and rule of radical-right parties in Europe and Latin America.

A Canadian citizen born to an Egyptian-immigrant father and a Greek-immigrant mother, Nicolas is an admirer of culture and an avid world traveler. He is an enthusiastic fan of space and NASA, and loves nothing more than a great meal.