Ph.D. Candidate
Public Administration & Policy
School of Public & International Affairs
University of Georgia
Office: 406 Baldwin Hall

Email: melanie.waddell25@uga.edu

I am a doctoral candidate in Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia. I expect to graduate in May 2025. I study governments’ efforts to plan for, understand, and respond to natural weather-related disasters, crises, and emergencies, primarily through a public finance and public policy lens.

My current work focuses on states as critical managers in emergency management networks, local and state policy planning for severe disasters, and how budgeting decisions for disasters are tied to financial outcomes for states. My solo-authored paper, “Repeat Audit Findings: How FEMA Responds to Feedback”, was published at the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. I focus on questions of recurring problems experienced by local governments impacted by disasters and how FEMA handles that feedback consistently. In this research, I find there are regional variations in addressing these recurring problems.

I have taught half a dozen well-received sections of POLS 1101: Introduction to American Government as a Teaching Assistant. I have been the Instructor of Record and taught two public administration courses, PADP 3000: Introduction to Public Administration and PADP 4600: Politics/Public Administration and Budgeting. My course evaluations are consistently high, and in February 2022, I won the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for our School of Public & International Affairs.

Prior to my time at UGA, I received my Master’s in Political Science from Northeastern University, I worked at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington D.C., and I worked as a paralegal at a law firm in South Carolina specializing in corporate nursing home negligence.