Tracee Saunders

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Headshot of Tracee Saunders
Doctoral Candidate
Email: Website:

Research Areas

American Politics
Political Methodology
Public Health & Health Policy
Social Inequality


Tracee is a PhD Student in Political Science and NSF Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on the political determinants of access health care and social welfare resources in the U.S. Specifically, I am interested in when and why there may be gaps between what a policy promises to do and how the program actually performs. Her dissertation looks at how a state’s decisions regarding administrative burden affect who has access to health and social welfare resources in that state, and how this relationship may be moderated by state and local policy contexts. As people’s experience with these policies (and thus their experience with the state differs) so to does the effect this experience has on their political participation.

Tracee's larger research agenda encompasses state and local political institutions, bureaucratic politics, public administration, social inequality, and policy diffusion. Her co-authored work on state variation in access to affordable contraception has been featured by The Washington Post, The Economist, The Gender Policy Report and PBS News Hour. She is passionate about using big data and data science tools to create research that can inform more equitable policy making and policy implementation, and she is passionate about teaching undergraduates, the next generation of researchers, to do the same.


University of Iowa, MS in Health Informatics, 2021 (expected)
University of Iowa, MA in Political Science, 2019
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BA in Public Policy and U.S. Global and Public Health, 2016


  • Tom Carsey Scholar, APSA State Politics Section, 2020
  • NSF Political Networks Fellowship, 2018


  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 2020 ($138,000)
  • Summer Quantitative Training Scholarship, University of Iowa, 2019 ($4,000)
  • University of Iowa Graduate College’s Recruitment Fellowship, 2018 ($30,000)


  • "Is Health Politics Different? A Pooled Event History Analysis comparing the diffusion of health and non-health policies." State Politics and Policy Conference (2020) and Political Networks Conference (2018)
  • "A Supervised Learning Approach to Identifying Morality Policy with Bill Text." Midwest Political Science Association Conference (2020)



  • Kreitzer, R., Smith, C.W. Kane, K. & Saunders, T. (forthcoming) Contraception Deserts: The Effects of Title X Rule Changes on Access to Reproductive Healthcare Resources. Politics and Gender.
  • Kreitzer, R., Smith, C.W. Kane, K. & Saunders, T. (2021) Affordable, but Inaccessible: Using the Two-Step Floating Catchment Area Method to measure policy accessibility in the U.S. Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law.
  • Saunders, T., Kreitzer, R., & Smith, C.W. (2018). Variation in Title X Leads to Contraception Deserts, The Gender Policy Report.
  • Saunders, T. (2020). A baffled Southerner at the Iowa caucuses, Scalawag Magazine.