Comparative Politics Placement Candidates

Rodrigo Castro Cornejo

Curriculum Vitae

Rodrigo Castro Cornejo is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science. He specializes in comparative political behavior. His research interests include survey research methodology, public opinion, and voting behavior; specifically, he studies campaigns and elections, and the role of political predispositions, corruption, and clientelism in voting behavior.

Castro Cornejo's dissertation—Do Campaigns Matter? Survey Research Methodology, Campaign Effects, and Party System Institutionalization—explains why electoral campaigns influence voters in some party systems but seem inconsequential in others. In particular, he explains why Latin American presidential elections report a high proportion of swing voters. His dissertation finds that the institutionalization of the party system is key in explaining the variation in campaign effects across countries and elections. In particular, he investigates how voters’ low levels of information, short-term party identification as well as voters’ survey-taking behavior and strategic interpretation of polling results contribute to the increase of the proportion of swing voters in Latin American elections. Castro Cornejo’s other research projects include a collaborative project that rely on survey experiments and seeks to understand why voters support corrupt politicians in new democracies, particularly in Latin America. He also participates in a project at the intersection of survey research, political science, and ecology, which investigates levels of agreement about climate change among the scientific community.

Teaching interests: comparative politics, American politics, Latin American politics, comparative democratization and regime change, religion and politics, comparative political behavior, comparative public opinion, comparative voting behavior, campaigns and elections, research methods, survey research methodology, experimental methods, and applied statistics.

Research interests: survey research methodology, public opinion, voting behavior, campaigns and elections, voter mobilization, public opinion formation, political predispositions, climate change, religion and politics, corruption, clientelism, and vote-buying.

Chonghyun Choi


Chonghyun Choi is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and a PhD fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, also at Notre Dame. His research areas are comparative politics and political economy, with a focus on the socioeconomic effects of political regimes and regime change.

In his dissertation, titled Democracy and Distribution: How Democracy Affects Inequality of Market Income, Chonghyun explores how democracy influences economic inequality by examining democracy’s effect on the distribution of income before taxes and transfers (distribution of market income). Although knowledge of democracy’s effect on the distribution of market income is a prerequisite to determining the exact relationship between democracy and inequality, most research on the topic has focused solely on the redistributive phase while neglecting the distributive phase. This is problematic since democracy’s consequence for inequality may differ across the two phases; for example, democracies may redistribute more regressively but distribute market income more equally in the first place. When researchers examine only redistribution or the final distribution of income after taxes and transfers (distribution of disposable income), they are bound to miss such empirical patterns. By developing and testing a theory of democracy’s distributive, as opposed to redistributive, consequence, the dissertation seeks to provide the keystone that has been missing in the research program on the democracy-inequality nexus.

In addition to the dissertation, Chonghyun is working on two research papers. The first paper examines how regime type influences the effectiveness with which countries handle economic crises, employing evidence from the Great Recession of 2008. The second one, a co-authored paper, addresses why the degree of economic freedom women enjoy varies widely across countries, even for those at similar levels of development.

Prior to attending Notre Dame, Chonghyun received an M.A. (Political Science) from the University of Florida, and an M.A. (International Relations) and a B.A. (Political Science) from Seoul National University.

Karie Cross


Karie Cross is a PhD candidate in Peace Studies and Political Science at Notre Dame. Her main area of expertise is feminist political thought, but she also work on political violence, international development, human rights, and contemporary political theory. Karie is a specialist on South Asia, after conducting dissertation research in India and doing advocacy work in Nepal.   

Ji Eun Kim


Ji Eun Kim is a PhD candidate in Political Science and Peace Studies at Notre Dame. Her areas of specialization are political violence and transitional justice with a focus on government apology and reparations. Her regional expertise is in East Asia.

Ji Eun’s dissertation, entitled “Good and Bad Apologies: Determinants of Successful State Apologies,” examines both international and domestic apologies in the aftermath of large-scale political violence and massive human rights violations. She investigates why some state apologies addressing past atrocities succeed at bringing about reconciliation, while others do not. She incorporates Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) based on her multi-country apology database, rich case studies from archival research, and in-depth interviews in Australia and Korea. Her work introduces new cross-case empirical analyses of state apologies and implications for transitional justice processes.

Another major area of Ji Eun’s research includes international institutions and norms. She is currently working on two projects related to international disarmament institutions. Her first project asks, “When do states join disarmament treaties?” and examines the negotiation processes of the 1997 Ottawa treaty against the use of anti-personnel landmines. Her second project aims to analyze the independent impact of targeted financial sanctions against North Korea, assessing both temporary and long-term compliant behavior of the targeted state.

Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, Ji Eun worked on East Asian security and economy research projects at the Center for International Studies at Seoul National University. She received an M.A. in International Relations from Seoul National University and a B.A. in American Studies from the Catholic University of Korea. She is a recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award and a Steven D. Pepe Ph.D. Fellow in Peace Studies for AY 2016-2017.