Study of U.S.-Czech Missile Defense Leads to Schar School PhD in Political Science


Originally from the Czech Republic, Michaela Dodge first became interested in missile defense as a college student. Her home country was considering hosting a U.S. missile defense site at the time, she said, and she became fascinated with debates surrounding the controversial topic.

She moved to the United States to complete her master’s degree in defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University, and she stayed to pursue her PhD in Political Science with the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, where she researched the U.S.-Czech missile defense and factors that make their alliance stronger or more difficult. It could also make the world a safer place. 

"Michaela produced an excellent, deeply considered dissertation of timely relevance on the topic of American alliances, ballistic missile defense, and Central European strategic arrangements,” said Colin Dueck, the Schar School professor who chaired her political science doctoral committee. “I'm confident she will have a great career within the U.S. national security community."

“I had a great experience at Mason,” said Dodge, who graduated in May of 2019. “I would highlight the world-class faculty and professors who are willing to help students and make time for them—I really appreciated that.”

The Schar School’s location in Arlington, Va., was also ideal for Dodge, who was able to take advantage of opportunities near the nation’s capital.

Dodge worked at the Heritage Foundation and in the U.S. Senate as then-Arizona Senator Jon Kyl’s (R) senior defense policy advisor during her studies. She returned to the Heritage Foundation in February as a research fellow for missile defense and nuclear deterrence.

“What I enjoy most is the ability to contribute to advancing national security policies,” Dodge said.

Additional reporting by Buzz McClain.