The SPGS Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series hosts at least one speaker per year. The series serves a variety of goals, including honoring outstanding alumni for their accomplishments, raising the visibility of SPGS to both internal and external audiences, educating undergraduate and graduate students about career possibilities associated with our degrees, and learning from honorees about ways we might improve our degree programs.

Alumni of any of our degree programs are eligible for consideration for this speaker series.  Generally, we expect that we will invite alumni who are at least five years past their degree, though this may vary with their accomplishments and potential contributions to the School.

Please direct submissions to School of Politics and Global Studies Marketing and Communications Manager Alexandra Bice at

Robert Bond | 2022

Dr. Robert Bond is an associate professor in the School of Communication at Ohio State University.  He received his B.A. (2006) and M.A. (2007) in Political Science from Arizona State University.  His research focuses on political communication, political attitudes and behavior, and social networks, particularly where these areas intersect.  He was named the faculty member of the year by the graduate students in the School of Communication at OSU in 2020.

Sarah Allen Gershon | 2019

Dr. Sarah Allen Gershon is an associate professor of political science at Georgia State University. Her research focuses on the incorporation of traditionally underrepresented groups (including women, racial and ethnic minorities) into the American political system. She was also named the Outstanding Graduate Director for the College of Arts and Sciences at GSU in 2017.

While back in Tempe, Gershon gave a colloquium to faculty and students titled “Shared Identities: The Intersection of Race and Gender and Support for Political Candidates”. This project was a collaboration with three other political scientist and looks at how voters feel about candidates that share their racial, ethnic and gender identities.

See Seng Tan | 2018

Dr. Tan See Seng is Professor of International Relations and Deputy Director of the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies at RSIS. He is the author/editor of 15 books and monographs, and has published over 70 scholarly articles and book chapters. His latest books include Multilateral Asian Security Architecture: Non-ASEAN Stakeholders and The Making of the Asia Pacific: Knowledge Brokers and the Politics of Representation.

During his time visiting his alma mater, Tan spoke with the SPGS faculty and graduate students about some of his research and findings. Tan was also joined by his former dissertation chair, Sheldon Simon, for a joint lecture co-hosted by the Center for Asian Research. The colloquium featured each colleague covering topics relating to the origins and possible solutions of the South China Sea conflicts. 

Thom Brooks | 2017

Thom Brooks is the Dean of Durham Law School and a graduate from ASU with a MA in Political Science (‘99). Brooks has held visiting positions at the universities of Oxford, St Andrews, Uppsala and Yale and has been active in public engagement.

After he sat the British citizenship test first-hand, Brooks published the only comprehensive report into the U.K.’s test which has been cited repeatedly in the U.K.’s Parliament. In it, Brooks considers the lessons in how not to test for citizenship and how might the U.K. look to improve their test.

Lynn Vavreck | 2016

Vavreck received her B.S. in Political Science in 1990 and her M.A. in Political Science in 1992, both from Arizona State University. Her expertise is in campaigns, elections and public opinion. Vavreck has published four books, including " The Message Matters " and " The Gamble ," and is also a contributing columnist at the New York Times.

Vavreck’s lecture focused on the data-journalism she has done through THE UPSHOT . She presented some of the findings of her research on campaign advertising and the perceptions of voters.