Group photo of Chad Rhym, Tasha Lindo, Pamela Nwachukwu, and Haofeng Ma.

Meet the Participants of the 2023-2024 Dissertation Completion Program


This year, the Public Policy Center launched its first ever Dissertation Completion Program (DCP). The DCP aims to support advanced graduate students in the final years of their dissertations or final creative projects. Selected participants are provided with private offices to work, as well as $1000 in funding to support their research travel and other project costs. Additionally, participants meet regularly to share updates, discuss roadblocks, and workshop drafts.

“We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with these students as they develop their dissertations.” said Mark Berg, director of the Public Policy Center. “Their work is groundbreaking. It will help our communities better understand and address a range of important challenges. I look forward to watching these researchers continue to make significant advancements in their fields.”

The 2023-2024 DCP cohort includes five doctoral students from three University of Iowa colleges.

Tasha Lindo, a doctoral student in the Literacy, Culture, and Language Education program in the College of Education, is working on her dissertation titled “Engaging in critical conversations with secondary school Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) girls: Conceptualizing identities in an AAPI young adult book club.” Inspired by her time as a Filipina English language arts teacher, Tasha aims to discover how AAPI high school girls read and respond to AAPI young adult literature. In an afterschool book club, she documented the ways in which issues of identity, sex, race, gender, and class were discussed. Lindo used her funding to attend the 2023 Literary Research Association Conference where she could participate in a roundtable and connect with fellow scholars. Regarding her DCP experience, Tasha enjoyed working with the other DCP participants. “We have read and responded to pieces of each other’s writing as well as connected personally about the process of working on our dissertations,” Tasha reflected. “It has made the process feel less lonely.”  
Headshot of Tasha Lindo.
Tasha Lindo, Literacy, Culture, and Language Education, College of Education

Chad Rhym, Department of Sociology and Criminology, CLAS

  Chad Rhym, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, is working on his dissertation titled, “100 Years of the Golden Rule: Interrogating Racialized Norms in Journalistic Objectivity.” With experience as a journalist, Chad aims to investigate the past, present, and future of “journalistic objectivity” as a racial project. He has been conducting interviews with three generations of Black and white journalists about how they define, critique, and defend this journalistic concept. “I believe that objectivity, once considered the ‘golden standard’ of professional journalism, is facing a unique conjuncture in its current state,” Chad said. “And further studying the perspectives of three professional cohorts helps provide a comprehensive and contextual picture of how objectivity is potentially racialized across time and workplace cultures.” Chad plans to attend the National Association of Black Journalists conference, where he hopes to conduct interviews, attend talks, and cultivate community among Black scholars and journalists.
Haofeng Ma is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science completing his dissertation titled “Native Tongues, Language Policy, and Political Attitudes.” He is studying how language policies affect attitudes toward the government, particularly among citizens whose native language is not the same as their resident country’s official language(s). According to Haofeng, policies often dictate which language(s) must be used in public service provisions, and this choice of official language can impose “significant barriers” in accessing these public services and potentially impact political attitudes. In early April, he used his DCP funding to travel to the 81st Annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference, where he presented his dissertation work and received valuable feedback. Prior to that, he attended the 2024 Western Political Science Association Annual meeting in Vancouver, which he noted “was memorable, not only for the academic exchanges and networking opportunities, but also for the beautiful scenery of mountains, seas, and cherry blossoms.”    
Haofeng Ma, Department of Political Science, CLAS
Pamela Nwachukwu, Dental Public Health, College of Dentistry
  Pamela Nwachukwu is a doctoral student in the College of Dentistry studying dental care access for underserved populations. Her dissertation, titled "Impact of Medicaid Dental Policy Changes on Dental Care Access for the Medicaid Population," focuses on assessing the impacts of health policy changes on dental care access for Medicaid beneficiaries. With her DCP funding, Pamela has been able to attend several conferences related to her field of study, including the 102nd General Session of the International Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research. Pamela presented on two of her PhD projects and gained feedback and insight from fellow researchers and scholars. The ability to provide data on the impact of policy changes on dental care access for underserved populations is what makes this work so rewarding and interesting for Pamela.
Sun Joo Lee, a doctoral student in the School of Music, is working on a project titled “The Effectiveness of Therapeutic Group Singing to Improve Voice Quality and Mood for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.” Through this research, Sun Joo aims to “offer community-based therapeutic group singing as a social intervention to address motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease” which would benefit both patients and caregivers. She recently presented her research at the Western Region Music Therapy Association and has been invited to present at several retirement communities, as well as On With Life, a neuro-rehabilitation center in Iowa. As a result of Sun Joo’s work, the Tremble Clefs, a nationwide therapeutic singing group for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, recently established an Iowa City branch. Sun Joo herself serves as a music therapist for the group and will continue to do so until she graduates, when she will then train other music therapy students.  
Sun Joo Lee_headshot
Sun Joo Lee, School of Music, CLAS

The next round of applications for the Dissertation Completion Program are anticipated to open in Fall 2024.