About Us

Hello and welcome to the SPSA about page!

The Schar PhD Student Association (SPSA) is a student-run organization for all Ph.D. students in the Schar School. It provides a platform for professional and intellectual support, student-led initiatives, and opportunities for greater student interaction and collaboration. We sponsor a variety of events to help students progress through the program such as the Ph.D. student research workshops, student-led panels on different stages of the program, and of course, happy hours.

Below you will find background and contact information for our organization’s leadership. If you would like to be involved in SPSA or have ideas for events that would help you in the program, please reach out to any one of us!

Executive Board 2022-2023

President: Piper Biery | pbiery@gmu.edu

Piper Biery is a PhD candidate in Political Science working on a dissertation exploring the Sovereign Citizens Movement and issues of sovereignty and democracy in the U.S. Other research interests include terrorism, nationalism, and qualitative methods. Piper has taught undergraduate courses for Utah State University, where she earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees, and for George Mason University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her kids, reading, cooking, and growing plants.

Vice-President: Angelo Santos | asanto7@gmu.edu

Angelo Santos comes to the Schar School after working for five years in multilateral organizations, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, where he was involved in the monitoring and evaluation of development aid projects. At the Schar School, he works on a research project that analyzes the fertility stall in Sub-Saharan Africa and the links between democracy and development. His experience in and passion for international development prompted him to focus his dissertation on the effects of climate shocks on human capital outcomes in developing countries. In his free time, he enjoys playing the keyboards, running, and exploring different bars in D.C.

Treasurer: Jared Wold | jwold2@gmu.edu

Jared Wold is a 3rd-year Ph.D. Student in the Public Policy Program. His research interests include Discrimination, Credit Markets, and Migration. He currently works for the Census Bureau and has previously worked in Banking and in Technical Theatre. He holds B.A.s in Economics and Political Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Secretary: James Vizzard | jvizzard@gmu.edu

James Vizzard is a part-time PhD student in international relations and American political science at the Schar School. He is currently writing his dissertation proposal on the ways military institutions respond to failure. Prior to graduate school, he served 26 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, and when not dissertating, he is a civilian bureaucrat in the Army secretariat. James holds a B.A. in history from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. in English from Colorado State University, and an MMAS in strategy from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He served as an assistant professor of English at the United States Military Academy at West Point and has published in Public Administration Review and the Journal of Interdisciplinary History.