Student Bios

Riley Edwards
MPA1
III - Domestic Policy
Fordham University, 2016
Physics/Political Science, B.S.
North Bend, Washington
Riley grew up in small towns in Wisconsin and Washington state before moving to New York City for college, where she majored in physics and political science. After graduating, she worked as a researcher at the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and watchdog organization focused on New York City and State government. Her focus was on increasing transparency and evaluation of economic development incentives, including the Amazon HQ2 deal. Riley's policy interests include workforce development and increasing economic opportunity for poor and working Americans. When not working, she can be found hanging out with her two cats, trying out new recipes, or playing bar trivia.
Katherine Elgin
PhD
Princeton University, 2013
Politics, A.B.
The Plains, Virginia
Katherine is a Ph.D. candidate in security studies interested in grand strategy, civil-military affairs, alliance dynamics and national security decision-making processes. Her dissertation examines the Sino-Russian relationship and Russian grand strategy. Before commencing her graduate studies at the Woodrow Wilson School, Katherine worked at the Foreign Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. There, she focused on U.S. grand strategy and global political trends, contributing to several books and projects. While in D.C., Katherine also worked with a defense research firm. Katherine speaks Swedish, Russian and French. She grew up on a family farm near Middleburg, Virginia, and enjoys photography, tennis and traveling.
Alex Entz
MPA2
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Northwestern University, 2014
Economics, B.A.
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Alex grew up detasseling corn and hunting pheasant in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He graduated from Northwestern University with honors in economics in 2014, where he minored in creative writing and math. After graduating, he traded mortgage-backed securities on the Markets Desk of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and then received an Education Pioneers Fellowship to work in the Strategy Department of the City Colleges of Chicago, where he focused on budget and enrollment strategy. Next, Alex was selected to be a Public Interest Fellow in Washington, D.C., where he analyzed U.S. sanctions policy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and worked as a speechwriter and policy aide for the president of the Hudson Institute. This past summer, Alex was an intern in the Sanctions Policy Office at the State Department. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Fox News, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, City Journal, Real Clear Energy, The National Interest, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Hill, Liberty Street Economics, and elsewhere.
Patrick Farrell
MPA2
IV - Economics and Public Policy
University of Pittsburgh, 2015
Chinese/Economics/Politcal Science, B.A./B.S.
Summerfield, North Carolina
Pat was born in New York and grew up in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in economics, Chinese, and political science and also holds a certificate in business and economics from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. After graduation, he worked as a junior fellow in the Southeast Asia and Chinese Economy programs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., and for New York University’s Stern School of Business as a research assistant for projects involving social networks and finance. Before coming to the Woo he worked in Yangon, Myanmar, as a government relations consultant. He spent his summer internship working at the Asian Development Bank Indonesia Resident Mission in Jakarta. Pat is interested in trade policy, development, and cities and enjoys studying languages, reading, and running.
Robert Francis
MPA1
II - International Development
Brigham Young University, 2016
Political Science, B.A.
Brookings, South Dakota
Born and raised in Brookings, South Dakota, Robert moved to Provo, Utah, to study political science and international development at Brigham Young University. Since graduating, he has spent the last three years working on the Results for Development education team in Washington, D.C. While at R4D, Robert conducted education policy research and evaluations throughout Africa and Latin America, ranging from studying the impact of gangs on non-state schools in El Salvador to evaluating the Global Partnership for Education’s grants to ministries of education in Mozambique, Liberia, and Zambia. Robert dedicated this summer to crossing restaurants and museums off his D.C. bucket list and spending as much time as possible outdoors. Upon completing his MPA, Robert plans on working to strengthen the implementation capacity of education ministries in low- and middle-income countries.
Travis Frederick
PhD
The Ohio State University, 2014; Georgia Institute of Technology, 2017
International Studies, B.A.; International Affairs, M.S.
Fairfield, Ohio
Travis is a first-generation college student from Ohio, a third-year Ph.D. student in the security studies cluster, and a graduate researcher in Princeton’s Socio-Cognitive Processes Lab. His professional interests include societies’ collective memories of political events, the political psychology behind threat perceptions, and U.S.-Russia security relations. His personal interests include three-item lists. Travis speaks Russian and holds a B.A. from The Ohio State University and M.S. from Georgia Tech. He has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. State Department, and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
Xiangwen Fu
PhD
Peking University, 2015; Peking University, 2018
Environmental Science, B.S.; Environmental Science, M.S.
Beijing, China
Xiangwen was born and raised in Beijing, China. Prior to arriving at Princeton, he earned a master’s degree at Peking University with a focus on urban air pollutant dispersion. His previous research mainly dealt with characterizing the distribution of traffic-related air pollutant in complex urban terrain by developing and using atmospheric models. Xiangwen plans to continue his work on urban air pollution in China, and is interested in assessing the implications of environmental policies on urban air quality, energy use and human health.
Abu George
MPP
I - International Relations
National Law School of India, 2006
Law, LLB
Kottayam, Kerala, India
Born in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Abu was trained in the law but left it for a life in diplomacy after a brief stint as a police officer. He currently serves as the officer on special duty for press relations in the Indian Foreign Ministry in New Delhi where, among other things, he coordinates media engagements on foreign visits of the prime minister. In a decade of being a career diplomat, he has served in Egypt in the the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and evacuated Indian citizens from Iraq amidst ISIS advances in 2014. After graduation, he intends to return to diplomacy. In his free time, Abu likes to read and to run.
Talia Gerstle
MPA1
II - International Development
University of Michigan, 2015
International Studies, B.A.
Traverse City, Michigan
Talia is originally from Traverse City, Michigan, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in international studies. After graduation, she moved to Madrid at the height of the European refugee crisis. While in Spain, Talia became the leader of a nonprofit for refugee resettlement where she developed new programs to improve integration efforts. Committed to gaining a deeper understanding of forced displacement, Talia moved to Lesvos, Greece, to be a coordinator in a refugee camp. Since moving back to the United States, Talia has spent time doing policy work for Atlanta’s city council and working in youth development supporting immigrant girls in Washington, D.C. While at WWS, she is excited to dive deeper into the intersections of migration, education, and other social issues and plans to continue her work in humanitarian assistance after graduating. In her free time, Talia enjoys hiking, backpacking, cooking, seeing live music, and tries to retain elements of the lifestyle she learned in Spain, especially siestas and salsa dancing.
Wendy Gomez
MPA1
III - Domestic Policy
Dickinson College, 2015
Political Science/Spanish, B.A.
Los Angeles, California
Born and bred in Los Angeles, Wendy attended Dickinson College through the Posse Foundation. Shortly after graduating in 2015, she interned at The White House in the Hispanic Media Department under the Obama administration where she worked to make policy accessible to nearly 50 million Latinx. Inspired by public service, she moved back to Los Angeles to continue serving her community. Prior to Princeton, she was a research associate at the UCLA Social Justice Research Partnership where she analyzed policies and programs around juvenile justice, criminal justice reform, and equitable community development for local government entities including the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. Committed to social justice, Wendy is studying domestic policy at WWS and plans to gain the skillsets and expertise to continue building bottom up approaches to social policy. In her free time, she trains for marathons, hikes, and in true California fashion simply loves being in the sun.
Curtis Goos
MPA2
III - Domestic Policy
University of Iowa, 2014
French/International Studies, B.A.
Treynor, Iowa
Curtis pivoted from his family’s farming tradition to explore the world beyond the fields of his native southwest Iowa. Fascinated by stories of social reinvention across cultural boundaries, he completed his studies in French literature at the University of Iowa with a focus on immigration in the post-colonial Francophone world. Following graduation, he spent a year teaching English at the Université de Pau et de Pays de l’Adour in southwest France. He then went on to serve as a Peace Corps education volunteer in southern Rwanda where he taught English, literature, and computer science to students and faculty while spending his free time tending his garden with his cat. For his summer internship, he worked at the Nationalities Service Center, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that specializes in immigrant support services and refugee resettlement. Here he served refugees and asylees in the agency’s job development program and led a pilot job readiness program for victims of human trafficking. Upon graduating, Curtis hopes to work in shaping policies aimed at attracting and empowering immigrant residents throughout the American Midwest.
Gokul Gopalan Ramachandran
MPA2
IV - Economics and Public Policy
National Institute of Technology, Calicut, 2010
Electronic & Communication Engineering, BTech
Palakkad, Kerala, India
Gokul is from the state of Kerala, in the southern tip of India, nestled between the lush green mountains and the Arabian Sea. After graduating as an engineer, he pursued his passion for public service by joining the prestigious Indian Administrative Service, the topmost civil service of the country. He underwent two years of training at the National Civil Services College where topics of study ranged from NPV analysis to navigating the chilly waters of the Ganges. After that, Gokul had worked extensively in the difficult, hilly districts of Kerala, as a deputy chief executive and then as a chief executive. His efforts led to substantial improvements in the education and employability of forest-dwelling tribes, last mile connectivity of Government services and settlement of land rights. He completed his summer internship in Trivandrum, India, with Kudumbashree, the poverty eradication and women’s empowerment program implemented by the State Poverty Eradication Mission (SPEM) of the Government of Kerala. Gokul enjoys a game of football in his free time and loves long distance running. He also hopes to improve his tennis and learn cooking while at Princeton. Gokul’s wife, Anjali is a Ph.D. in engineering and is a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Edinburgh. After graduation, Gokul will join the Government of Kerala as the head of an administrative department.
Rebecca Gorin
MPA1
I - International Relations
Kenyon College, 2014
International Studies/Spanish, B.A.
Dobbs Ferry, New York
Prior to starting at Princeton, Rebecca lived in Washington, D.C., for five years - for the past two, she was working at the State Department doing analytics and audience research for public diplomacy programs and using open source technology to infuse policy and communications with data. Before State, she worked in federal consulting for three years, focusing on domestic projects related to economic security and poverty alleviation. Rebecca is passionate about using data to inform more effective and responsive policies. Rebecca attended Kenyon College in Ohio for undergrad where she was an international studies and Spanish major, and spent some time living in Argentina. Rebecca was born and raised in the New York area and is excited to be closer to family while at Princeton. In her spare time, she enjoys attempting to replicate challenges from the Great British Baking Show, reading, and spending time outside. Before starting at the Woo this fall, Rebecca traveled throughout the Northeast in search of the best ice cream and most picturesque vistas.
Yashna Gungadurdoss
MPA2
II - International Development
Cornell University, 2015
Economics/Psychology, B.A.
Vacoas, Mauritius
Yashna was born and raised in Mauritius. After high school, she left her home country to attend Cornell University, where she earned a double degree in economics and psychology. After graduating in 2015, Yashna joined the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, which uses psychometric credit scores to advance financial inclusion in developing countries. She initially led the company’s marketing initiatives and thereafter moved to India to spearhead projects with financial institutions in Mumbai. During that time, she also led the development and launch of the industry’s first psychometric assessment tool geared towards Joint Liability Group microfinance clients. She is interested in sustainable and evidence-based approaches to international development and in the longer term, she plans on working for the Mauritian government. Yashna spent the summer working for Instiglio in Nairobi, where she worked on the design of Results-Based Financing tools. Yashna loves Latin dance, yoga, meditation, good food, languages and travel!
Yixin Guo
PhD
Peking University, 2014
Atmospheric Sciences, B.S.
Beijing, China
Yixin joined the STEP family after finishing her undergraduate study in atmospheric and oceanic sciences at Peking University, China. She had intensive training in physics, programming and maths, and explored the summertime long-range transpacific transport of ozone. The voluntary experience for the Nature Conservancy Beijing Office in her senior year further cultivated an interest in science policy and raised concerns about China’s climate and air pollution policy. At Princeton, several courses and seminars made Yixin interested in agriculture, i.e. agricultural pollution from fertilizer and manure, food security and rural development. She looks forward to helping a transition to sustainable practices in the developing world.

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