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The following contains information about our advanced doctoral students and recent Ph.D.s currently on the academic job market.

If you would like more information, please contact our Director of Ph.D. Placement, Professor Rene Rocha. A candidate’s confidential placement file, consisting of curriculum vitae, unofficial transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a summary of student evaluation or writing samples, may be requested by a prospective employer by contacting our Graduate Program Coordinator.  

  • Headshot of Brian Janssen

    Brian Janssen, American Politics

    Dissertation Title: Dynamic Discretion: How Political Competition Affects Bureaucratic Autonomy

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  • Kyu Young Lee Headshot

    Kyu Young Lee, International Relations

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  • Michael Ritter

    Michael Ritter, American Politics, Comparative Politics

    Dissertation Title: Accessible Voting and Political Inequality: Voting Reform Laws and Reshaping Voter Turnout in the American States

    Dissertation Abstract:

    Why have state convenience voting laws had such a limited impact on voter turnout and turnout inequality? Although same-day registration (SDR) has been shown to have modest effects, data limitations have prevented us from understanding the true effects of these laws, especially on political participation of the poor. Previous research has not used large sample population data to study voting decisions over time and it does not measure the impact of multiple state voting laws simultaneously; overall election system features that include the laws and administration are have also been overlooked. A policy feedback approach is used to develop the concept of state “accessible voting systems.” This concept is proxied by historical turnout, election performance (Pew), and combinations of voting laws. Very large sample survey and population data (2016 Catalist, and 2006-2014 CCES) with millions of individuals are merged with state level data. Panel data and statistical matching (CEM) are used to develop improved models. Results show early voting, largely dismissed in the literature, increases turnout in midterm elections, and even participation by the poor. No-excuse and absentee voting also helps convert the poor into voters in presidential elections. SDR has the greatest effect in increasing overall turnout and the turnout of the poor in midterm and presidential elections. Overall election administration system features matter independently, increasing participation. The study finds state accessible voting laws have benefits for American democracy.

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  • Headshot of Desmond Wallace

    Desmond D. Wallace, American Politics, Methods, Political Methodology

    Dissertation Title: The Diffusion of Representation

    Dissertation Abstract:

            An important feature of a democratic society is the notion that the actions and decisions of elected representatives reflect their constituents’ preferences. Existing research identifies multiple ways an elected official “represents” the opinions of the public. For example, some elected officials represent their constituents’ preferences absent their personal beliefs and opinions, while other representatives choose to make decisions based on their beliefs absent the views of their constituents. Despite the proliferation in political representation research, one area that has received little attention from scholars is whether the actions of elected officials and their constituents have an influence on how representative elected officials in other jurisdictions are of their constituents. The failure to capture the non-independent features of representation leads to scholars not understanding fully the opinion-policy relationship between politicians and the public.
            The goal of this project is to examine the role elected leaders’ actions, individually and collectively, have regarding the relationship elected leaders in other jurisdictions have with their constituents. Using advanced methodological approaches, I investigate whether elected officials’ actions in one jurisdiction influence the representation relationship between contemporary elected officials and their constituents in other jurisdictions and whether this influence is positive or negative. For this project, I focus exclusively on the policy-related actions of elected officials and the policy preferences of constituents. The advanced methodological techniques I utilize allow me to model the actions of an individual politician, or an entire government, as dependent on the actions of their neighbors. I find that accounting for the interdependence among representatives is crucial for understanding political representation.

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