Hire a UNC Ph.D.
Our graduate students have extraordinary records of accomplishment and promise. Training at UNC is comparable to that at the nation’s top PhD programs and we are proud to bring your attention to these students entering the academic job market in Fall 2013.
For more information about any of our students, please see their individual web sites as listed below or contact Professor Frank Baumgartner, Placement Director or Ms. Dana Sadek, Graduate Studies Coordinator.
Derek Epp. American / Public Policy. Thesis: Attention Scarcity and Instability in American Political Systems (Baumgartner, Stimson, Gray, Carsey, Clark). The thesis investigates how attention scarcities affect changes in political systems. It is situated within the punctuated equilibrium literature, which identifies cognitive and institutional constraints as the primary causes of disequilibria in government spending. I unpack these broad categories into more specific possible causes of punctuations in budgetary and other distributions of change over time, searching for the limits of the punctuated equilibrium framework by identifying the conditions under which proportional, as opposed to punctuated, change is possible. In my first chapter, I identify spending categories that are prone to instability versus those that rarely see punctuations. I utilize time series models to identify key political variables causing budget instability. The second chapter focuses on public opinion, demonstrating that the punctuated equilibrium model can account for patterns of change in opinion. The third chapter develops a direct measure of decision making costs for various institutions and tests if the occurrence of punctuations correlates with this measure as the punctuated equilibrium framework would predict. Status: Ph.D. expected Spring 2014. Teaching Interests: Intro to American, State and Local Politics, Agenda Setting, Public Finance and Budgeting, Public Opinion, Political Behavior, Race and Politics, Media and Politics, Introductory Statistics, Research Design.Email: email@example.com Web: http://daepp.web.unc.edu/.
Ellen Gutman. American / Methodology. Thesis: Normal Winners: Campaign Strategies of Strong Candidates (Stimson, MacKuen, Gray). There is much research about the campaigns of challengers for elected office but little research about the strategies of strong candidates. By looking at websites, advertisements, and campaign spending by congressional and gubernatorial candidates, I demonstrate that expected winners act differently than expected losers or candidates in close races. They emphasize personal information such as pictures/stories about their families; discuss valence issues such as supporting education and opposing crime but not position issues such as specific reforms to Social Security; and they distance themselves from other politicians by not speaking about their opponents, the president, or any others. This thesis relates to campaign strategies, congressional politics, state politics, and electoral politics more generally. Status: Ph.D. expected Spring 2013. Teaching Interests: American Politics, State and Local Politics, Campaigns and Elections, Public Opinion, Congress, Research Methods. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelsea Phillips. American / Social Psychology. Thesis: The Role of Politics in Romantic Relationships (Carsey, Conover, MacKuen, Green, Peterson). I examine the impact of political attitudes and identities on romantic relationship initiation, development, maintenance, and dissolution. In my first empirical chapter, I use an experimental design to show that individuals are more attracted to others who share similar political attitudes than to politically dissimilar others. I demonstrate experimentally in my second chapter that individuals are more attracted to others who share similar political identities than to politically dissimilar others. In my third chapter, I use original data from a first-of-its-kind dyadic panel study to explore the role of political attitude and identity similarity in real-world, premarital romantic relationships over time. Status: ABD (Ph.D. expected spring 2014). Awards: National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. Teaching Interests: Political Psychology, Social Psychology, Political Behavior, Public Opinion, Political Socialization, Political Communication, Introduction to American Government, State and Local Politics. Email: email@example.com, Web: http://cjphillips.web.unc.edu/.
Gregory J. Wolf. American/Methodology. Thesis: Parties in the American Electorate (Stimson, Baumgartner, Carsey, MacKuen, Wlezien). The thesis evaluates the meso-level attitudes of partisan opinion on American politics at the system level. Aggregate models of the U.S. macro political system typically use macro-level measures of public opinion that cover up the attitudes of partisans. Considering the importance of political parties in democratic systems, the incorporation of parties in the electorate can lead to a further understanding of the interactions between citizens and government. I construct measures of partisan mood to measure the opinion of parties in the electorate and use these data to evaluate the changing attitudes of mass partisans over time and the roots of mass partisan attitude change, how the polarization of partisan attitudes affects election outcomes, and how parties are represented in government by responsible parties. In these analyses I develop micro theories of citizen and representative behavior and macro models of behavior based on aggregation mechanisms of micro behaviors. I demonstrate the importance that partisan attitudes have on politics at the system level for opinion change, election outcomes, and how responsible parties in government provide representation to their parties in the electorate. Together, the findings add to the understanding of macro politics in the United States, building an understanding of meso-level factors that are often covered up through aggregation. Teaching Interests: Intro to American Government, State Politics, Public Opinion, Campaigns and Elections, Political Behavior, Political Parties, Religion and Politics, Undergraduate Methods, Research Design, and Time Series. Status: Ph.D. expected Spring 2014. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.unc.edu/~gregwolf.
Santiago Anria. Comparative Politics (Latin America) / Political Theory. Thesis: A Movement Party in Power: The Bolivian MAS in Comparative Perspective (Huber, Robertson, Schoultz, Stephens, Vachudova). The thesis questions the established wisdom that political organization leads to oligarchy by assessing the democratic potential of movement-based parties when they assume national-level power. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Bolivia, it examines the behavior of the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) in the crucial arenas of candidate selection and national policymaking. The dissertation is motivated by the concerns that arise when state power is excessively concentrated in the hands of the executive body. The case of the MAS offers important insights into the opportunities and constraints of a form of organization that can diffuse power, keep grassroots control on the leadership, and enhance the influence of groups that have been historically underrepresented. The thesis should interest not only Latin Americanists but also scholars and practitioners concerned about the substantive defects and potentialities of young democracies elsewhere. Status: Ph.D expected Spring 2014. Publications: Latin American Politics and Society (2013), Latin American Research Review (under review), Party Politics (under review). Teaching Interests: Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics, Social Movements and Democratization, Comparative Political Parties. Email: email@example.com.
Lauren Biddle. Comparative Politics / Methodology. Thesis: Corruption in Democratic Brazil (Hartlyn, Huber, Searing, Stephens, Martinez-Gallardo). This thesis, in the form of three articles, is based on over two years of field research in several Brazilian states. It deals with different ways to measure corruption, patterns of sub-national corruption and the institutional environment of anti-corruption agencies using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The first article looks at patterns of municipal corruption in Brazil using an innovative database created from the analysis of over 700 government audit reports. The performance-based measure of corruption generated from this data is then utilized to explore the political, socio-economic and environmental factors associated with sub-national corruption levels. Another article uses survey data from four case studies of Brazilian municipalities to create a multilevel model investigating the determinants of individual corruption perceptions, which include the socio-economic and attitudinal characteristics of survey respondents, as well as performance- and victimization-based measures of corruption. A third article focuses on the Comptroller General’s Office, the premier anti-corruption agency in the country. It provides a case study of institutional development and analyzes the reasons for the lack of success in curbing corruption through examining the larger context of Brazilian politics. Status: Defense complete, Ph.D. December 2013. Teaching Interests: Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics, Brazilian Politics and Political Research Methods. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;Web: http://lvbiddle.web.unc.edu/
Russell Bither-Terry. Comparative (Latin America) / Methodology / Latin American History. Thesis: Fome Zero: The Politics of anti-Hunger Policy in Brazil (Huber, Schoultz, Stephens). Thesis provides evidence from elite interviews and government documents that Brazil adopted the conditional cash transfer Bolsa Família as its primary anti-hunger program because it was a simple, direct, and rapid way to increase the ability of the poor to buy food. It analyzes micro-data from national household surveys to argue that the number of people brought completely out of poverty by Bolsa Família is smaller than is commonly assumed, but that the program achieved an impressive reduction in the severity of poverty, which explains its political salience, and that this reduction in the severity of poverty led to success in the original goal of reducing hunger. Status: Dissertation: defended December 2013. Publications: Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 2011; Latin American Politics and Society (forthcoming). Teaching Interests: Intro to Comparative, Latin American Politics, European Politics, Comparative Welfare States, U.S.-Latin American Relations, Intro to Statistics, Politics of Food. Email: email@example.com; Web: russellbitherterry.com
Benjamin Danforth. Comparative Politics / Methodology / Population Studies. Thesis: Building the Learning Society: The Development of Education and Training Systems in Advanced Capitalist Countries (Stephens, Brady, Hooghe, Huber, Marks). In this thesis, I examine why advanced capitalist countries have developed different institutional mixes of general and vocational education, particularly at the secondary level. In exploring this question over the period from 1880 to 1980, I argue that governmental structures, coordination legacies, and partisanship patterns are the decisive factors in explaining the rise of distinct institutional arrangements in education and training. To support this argument, I draw on evidence from an array of time-series cross-section analyses covering 17 countries and in-depth case studies of Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition to shedding new light on the political origins of education and training systems, this thesis contributes to our understanding of social investment, social policy, political economy, and historical institutionalism. Status: PhD expected in May 2014. Publications: Journal of European Public Policy and Journal of European Social Policy, both forthcoming. Teaching Interests: comparative politics, European politics, political economy, comparative welfare states, introductory and intermediate statistics (including linear regression, generalized linear models, and time-series analysis).Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.unc.edu/~btd5.
Svet Derderyan. Comparative Politics / IR. Thesis: My dissertation focusses on three broad questions pertaining to the influence of the EU on Central and Eastern Europe's (CEE) ability to fight corruption before and after accession. The first is whether the CEE candidate countries made progress in corruption control during the pre-accession period, and importantly, whether such progress was sustained post-accession. The second is whether the EU was able to empower civil society in CEE and make it a strong ally in the battle against corruption, and whether this empowerment was permanent or only temporary. The third is whether corruption had a differential effect on FDI inflows in CEE before and after membership was granted to these countries. The thesis contributes to our understanding of how international organizations influence governance, civil society, and economic development in newly democratized countries (Vachudova, Marks, Hooghe, Robertson, Jenkins). Status: PhD expected May 2014. Publications: P.I.E. Peter Lang edited volume. Teaching Interests: Comparative Politics, Contentious Politics and Democratization, EU Politics, Political Economy. Email: email@example.com. Web: http://www.unc.edu/~sderdery/index.html.
Hanna Kleider. Comparative Politics / International Relations. Thesis: Decentralization and the Welfare State: Territorial Disparities, Regional Governments and Political Parties (Stephens, Hooghe, Huber, Marks, Vachudova). I examine how decentralization and the territorial structure of political preferences affect within country disparities in the provision of key social services. The analysis is based on a novel dataset that combines data on subnational social spending, subnational socio-economic conditions and partisanship of subnational governments for 14 OECD countries from 1980-2010. The multi-level growth curve analysis is complimented with evidence from in-depth interviews with subnational government officials. I find that political decentralization is related to larger territorial inequality. Yet, certain institutional factors, like centralized political parties and policy coordination mechanisms, cushion the centrifugal effect of decentralization. Contrary to previous findings, the analysis also suggests that territorial inequalities are not purely driven by socio-economic factors but are subject to the dynamics of partisan politics. Status: PhD completed in May 2014. ACCESS Europe post-doctoral fellow at the VU Amsterdam. Publications: R&R Journal of European Social Policy, co-authored book chapter with OUP (forthcoming). Teaching Interests: Comparative Politics, Political Economy, Social Policy, European Politics, Latin American Politics, International Relations, Introductory Statistics Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Florian Stoeckel. Comparative Politics / Social Psychology. Thesis: Solidarity among Strangers? Citizenship, Identities, and Ambivalent Attitudes in Europe (Hooghe, Conover, MacKuen, Marks, Risse, Stephens). In my dissertation, I bring together work in political science and social psychology to examine the nexus between social interactions, political identities, and attitudes in Europe. First, using a pre-post test design with control group, I show the causal role of social interactions for the notion of community among individuals from different EU member states. Second, I demonstrate the role of ideological orientations on a left-right and new politics dimensions for the link between a shared identity and solidarity in Europe. Both chapters rely on a novel panel data set (n=1500), which I collected between 2010 and 2011. The third empirical chapter is based on a survey experiment (n=1013) in which I manipulate elite and identity cues to examine attitudes towards redistribution between more and less affluent EU countries. Status: PhD completed in May 2014. Currently Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute (Florence) and lecturer at James Madison University (campus Florence). Publications: Journal of European Public Policy (2014), European Union Politics (2013), book chapter with Routledge (2011), more work under review. Teaching Interests: European politics, comparative politics, public opinion, political psychology, experimental methods in political science Email: email@example.com Website: www.florianstoeckel.de
Alissandra T. Stoyan. Comparative Politics / Methodology / IR. Thesis: Constituent Assemblies, Presidential Majorities, and Democracy in Contemporary Latin America (Hartlyn, Huber, Martinez-Gallardo, Robertson, Vachudova). This thesis examines how presidents with ambitious reform agendas implement them in a democratic context. It focuses on one particular mechanism in detail: a Constituent Assembly with supreme power to change the political system. It addresses three key questions: when is a president likely to choose this route, what increases the likelihood of success, and the short-term consequences. I argue that the most important factors impacting the likelihood of a president choosing this method are insufficient partisan/coalitional support in Congress and a willingness to bend the institutional rules. The success of reform via Constituent Assembly is determined by mobilizational leverage in combination with institutional leverage. Lastly, although these reforms enhance the first pillar of democracy, participation, they also have the potential to undermine the second, contestation. This research highlights the interplay of popular leadership and institutions in flux, contributing to our understanding of institutional change and executive power in contemporary Latin American democracies. It is based on eight months of fieldwork with elite interviews in Bolivia and Ecuador. Status: ABD, PhD expected May 2014. Publications: International Political Science Review (Revise and Resubmit), others under review. Teaching Interests: Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics, and Research Methods. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: www.alissandratstoyan.com.
Elizabeth J. Menninga. International Relations / Methodology. Thesis: Multiparty Mediation: Identifying Characteristics of the Mediation Dream Team (Gent, Crescenzi, Cranmer, Bapat, Beardsley). In this thesis I explore how and when multiparty mediation efforts overcome the collective action problems associated with multiple mediators (free-riding, forum-shopping, and mixed-messages). While these collective action problems often render multiparty efforts less effective than single-party mediation, coordination among mediators can overcome these obstacles and increase the chances of multiparty mediation success. Furthermore, I consider characteristics of multiparty mediation that not only help mediators overcome these disadvantages, but that also improve the chances of generating a comprehensive, lasting agreement. I find that balanced and complementary efforts, by capitalizing on advantages unique to multiparty mediation efforts, have a substantively and statistically positive effect on the chances for success. Status: PhD expected in May 2015. Publications: Conflict Management and Peace Science (2012). Teaching Interests: International Relations, Quantitative Research Methods, Strategy and International Relations. Email: email@example.com Web: menninga.web.unc.edu.
Joshua Miller. Theory / International Relations. Thesis: Democracy and Judgment: Lessons from Ancient Greek Political Thought. (Bickford, Lienesch, Leonard, Spinner-Halev, Reeve) My dissertation examines the practical and ethical dimensions of democratic decision-making. Insofar as democracies rely upon the policy decisions of their citizens, the question of what counts as good judgment has long been of rich theoretical concern. It was especially important for the ancient Greek thinkers Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle, who placed judgment not only at the center of democratic life but also at the junction between political theory and practice. Through an examination of their works, I conceive of sound political judgment as a reflective practice balancing moral contemplation with emotional intelligence and practical experience such that actors can make decisions under conditions of uncertainty. By relating ancient Greek thought to contemporary theories of political judgment, I further suggest that democratic theorists can gain insights into the challenges citizens face in making policy decisions, as well as suggestions for how they might be overcome. Status: PhD expected May 2014. Publications: Polity (2012), other work under review. Teaching Experience: Ancient Political Thought, Modern Political Thought, Feminist Political Theory, America and the World: Challenges and Opportunities. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: joshmiller.web.unc.edu
Carl Najdek. Theory / American. Thesis: Identity, Democracy, and Cosmopolitanism in Walt Whitman’s Political Thought. (Lienesch, Leonard, Bickford, Spinner-Halev, McGowan) The thesis describes Walt Whitman’s democratic thought on the relationship between individuals and the communities in which they live, the idea of the modern democratic nation, and finally the role of the United States in an increasingly industrialized and globalized world. By looking at these three concepts, I consider Whitman as more than just a poet with political concerns but rather as a serious thinker whose thought transcended his time and envisioned a political system at once transformed by changes in industry and technology and united through a shared democratic culture. This thesis relates to American political thought, American political culture, democratic theory, literature and politics, and political theory more generally. Status: ABD (Projected defense in April 2013). Publications: American Political Thought (Revise and Resubmit). Courses Taught: Introduction to Political Theory, Ancient Political Thought, Modern Political Thought, American National Government (Online and in-person), Political Theory of Revolution and Terror, Evolution of Empires, Popular Culture and Political Theory. Interested in Teaching: American Political Thought, State and Local Politics, American Legislature, Literature and Politics, Medieval Political Thought, Democratic Theory. Email: email@example.com Web: http://cnajdek.web.unc.edu/.
Joel Winkelman. Theory / American. Thesis: A Working Democracy (Lienesch, Bickford, Spinner-Halev). The thesis argues that work is central to democratic life, both in theory and in practice. Through an analysis of three of the most important American democratic thinkers, I demonstrate that work was the central political concept in the arguments of democratic thinkers who sought to create institutions that protected individual interests and public goods. The thesis relates to American political thought, American political development, democratic theory, and political theory more generally. Status: PhD, 2012. Publications: Polity (2012). Teaching: Intro to Political Theory, American Political Thought, Modern Political Thought, Classical Political Thought, Feminist Political Thought. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: http://jmwink.web.unc.edu.