Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies
Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies

Current Staff

rhondaevansRhonda L. Evans

Director and Senior Lecturer 

Rhonda Evans has directed the Edward A. Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies and served as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government since 2012. She was previously an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at East Carolina University. Dr. Evans holds a Ph.D. in Government from UT-Austin, a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, and a B.A. in Political Science from Kent State University’s Honors College, graduating phi beta kappa. As a lawyer licensed to practice in her home state of Ohio, she served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Tuscarawas County and as a Staff Attorney with Southeastern Ohio Legal Services. Dr. Evans is a principal investigator for the Australian and New Zealand Policy Agendas Projects. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature and reflects her training in law and political science. Current projects examine the Australian Human Rights Commission, the apex courts of Australia and New Zealand, and partisanship in the Australian Senate. Dr. Evans is especially interested in how apex courts set their agendas as well as the roles that they play in policymaking processes. In addition to contributing to a number of edited volumes, Dr. Evans has published in the Australian Journal of Political ScienceCongress and the PresidencyOsgoode Hall Law Review, and Journal of Common Market Studies. She is co-author of Legislating Equality: The Politics of Antidiscrimination Policy in Europe with Oxford University Press (2014).  She teaches undergraduate courses on Australian politics and human rights.


christinebirdChristine Bird

Graduate Research Assistant

Christine Bird is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Due to her legal training and background, Christine’s research interests lie at the intersection of law and politics. She specializes in constitutional law, civil rights, and judicial politics. Christine holds a J.D. and a license to practice law in her home state, Oklahoma. During law school, Christine held a position on the Law Review and internships with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Equal Opportunity Commission, and in private litigation. She earned a M.A. in Government at the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma. 
Outside of academia, Christine enjoys live music, yoga, and Texas barbecue. She is also an avid sports fan, following NCAA Football and NBA Basketball. You can follow her on twitter, @ChristineCBird or on her professional website,


andrewgibbonsAndrew Gibbons

Postdoctoral Fellow 

Andrew Gibbons is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Edward A. Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies. He holds a PhD and BA (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. Dr. Gibbons' research focuses on comparative public policy and political communication, with a focus on Anglo-American and advanced parliamentary democracies. His research interests lie at the intersection of these fields and include election reporting, election campaigning, policy/political journalism, election promises, and the public policy process. Dr. Gibbons' recent work examines the way politicians and media communicate policy issues during elections, the communication and fulfilment of election promises, the policy agenda of legislative and media institutions, and bipartisanship/collaboration on policy problems in legislative settings. Prior to joining the Clark Center, Dr. Gibbons was previously a sessional lecturer in Australian Politics at the University of Melbourne where he taught undergraduate and postgraduate subjects on Australian politics, campaigns and elections, strategic political communication, politics and the media, and social research methods. From 2013 to 2015, Dr. Gibbons served as a research officer on the Australian Policy Agendas Project. 
You can follow him on twitter @DrAndrewGibbons or on his professional website,


palomahernandezPaloma Hernandez

Administrative Associate

Paloma Hernandez graduated from UT in the Spring of 2018 with a degree in Government and a minor in Sociology. She began working with the Clark Center as a Research Intern in 2017. Previously the Center’s Communications Director, Paloma made the transition to a full-time position as Administrative Associate in late 2019. In this capacity, she continues to manage the Center’s website and social media accounts and offers administrative support to the Center. As an undergraduate, Paloma studied abroad, spending a semester in Seoul, South Korea and a summer in Havana, Cuba. Having experienced firsthand the transformative effects of international travel, she now espouses the benefits and affordability of studying abroad. During her time on the Forty Acres, Paloma twice worked as a Teaching Fellow for Breakthrough Central Texas, a local non-profit that provides extended learning, advising, and leadership experiences to students in low-income communities who will be the first in their families to graduate from college. Paloma is actively pursuing her goal to attend law school, after which she plans to pursue a career in education and international law. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her cats, Bean and Abed.


sarahalmgrenSarah Almgren

Research Assistant
Sarah Almgren graduated from UT in the Fall of 2018 with a degree in International Relations and Global Studies, with a minor in Latin American studies. In 2017, she studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during which time she seized the opportunity to travel to many South American countries. Sarah is keenly interested in issues concerning international relations and international security, especially with respect to Latin America. She held various political internships throughout her college career, including in the Office of US Senator John Cornyn and with the Red Argentina para la Cooperación Internacional (Argentine Network for International Cooperation.) After graduating, Sarah accepted a paid position with the Clark Center as a research assistant, and in that capacity, she is working on a project concerning political polarization in the Australian Senate. Sarah plans to move to Washington D.C. next fall in order to pursue a graduate degree in International Security. Born and raised in Austin, she enjoys spending time on the lake, listening to live music, and eating at Matt’s El Rancho.


katestricklandKate Strickland

Research Assistant
Kate Strickland graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Plan II and Government in May 2019. She is currently applying to law school. Kate is passionate about disability rights and, as an undergrad, served as President of Disability Advocacy: Student Coalition, a student organization that works to raise disability awareness on campus. Kate also served as the Co-Director of the Disabilities and Inclusion Agency of Student Government. Kate joined the Clark Center as a Research Intern in the spring of 2017 and thereafter collected and coded data for a project that examines newspaper coverage of the High Court of Australia. In the fall of 2018, she became a Clark Scholar and worked on a project that examines whether the policy salience of a case plays a role in the High Court’s decision to accept it for review. This research was awarded Highly Commended by the Global Undergraduate Awards.  Kate also completed a Plan II Honors Thesis under the supervision of Clark Center Director Rhonda Evans. Focusing on the UT campus, her research analyzed the ways in which university accessibility standards affect the extent to which students with disabilities are fully included in the higher education experience, and she documents the impact of these standards, both positive and negative, on students. Kate received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the School of Undergraduate Studies and an Undergraduate Research Award from the College of Liberal Arts to support her research and her thesis was selected as a Model Thesis by the Plan II Program. Kate plans to attend law school in the hopes of advancing disability rights both domestically and abroad. In her spare time, Kate enjoys reading, gaming, and spending time with her beloved cat Boots.