Carolina’s political science department has a strong record of getting good jobs for our graduate students.  We believe that every student we admit has the capacity to achieve a record that will make them attractive as a faculty member at top universities in the US and overseas. As you will see below, starting with our most recent graduate students, our alums have an impressive record of distinguished research and publications, teaching positions, and professional experience. In the past three years, our graduates got tenure track jobs at Arizona State, Indiana University, Kansas State University, University of Iowa, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, University of New Mexico, University of Virginia, and UNC-Charlotte. Our graduates also got visiting assistant professorships at Hamilton College, High Point College, UNC-Wilmington, and the University of Missouri as well as post-doctoral positions at Washington University in St. Louis and the European University Institute, in Florence Italy. The short bio statements below and quotes give a sense of the accomplishments of our PhD graduates, as well as a quote about their experiences at Carolina.

Former students are listed in order of their PhD year, with the most recent ones at the top. If you are a Carolina PhD and would like to be listed here, please email Frank Baumgartner at Frankb@unc.edu with your information.


MenningaElizabeth J. Menninga (Ph.D., 2015, assistant professor, University of Iowa). Elizabeth’s research focuses on the role of the international community in conflict resolution. She is interested in how the presence of mediators, as well as the characteristics of those mediators, shape the resolution process and the post-conflict society. Additionally, she is interested in how innovations in political methodology have opened doors to asking new questions or better evaluating existing theories. Her work in network analysis seeks to provide new tools for evaluating and studying questions in political science. Her book project, Multiparty Mediation: Identifying Characteristics of the Mediation Dream Team,explores how and when multiparty mediation efforts overcome the collective action problems associated with multiple mediators (free-riding, forum-shopping, and mixed messages).  While multiple mediators sometimes complicate the negotiating environment, not all multiparty efforts are equally plagued by these problems. Moreover, some multiparty efforts provide unique advantages that make them better able to influence the combatants and generate an agreement. Elizabeth’s research has been published in Conflict Management and Peace Science and presented at conferences including Political Networks, ISA, Peace Science, and APSA.

Elizabeth’s comments:

“The training and opportunities that I’ve had as a graduate student at UNC have been instrumental in preparing me for a career as a professor. The coursework at UNC taught me the methodological and substantive tools needed to do excellent research, but perhaps more importantly I’ve also learned a great deal from getting to work alongside faculty.  The collegial and supportive nature of the department has enhancing my time at UNC by providing not only the necessary tools to do my own research, but also encouraging me to work with other students. Throughout my time at UNC I got to share my work with others and broaden  my perspective by hearing about others. This sharing has resulted in several coauthored projects with colleagues whose interests overlap with mine; these joint projects have produced professional relationships that I am sure I will continue to produce joint research long after I’ve left Carolina.”


stoyanAlissandra T. Stoyan (Ph.D., 2014, assistant professor, Kansas State University). Ali’s interests include institutional change, democratization, and executive-legislative relations in Latin America. Her dissertation focuses on how presidents with ambitious reform agendas implement them in a democratic context and, more specifically, the dynamics of reform via constituent assembly in Latin America. Other research evaluates: the interactions between institutions and public opinion, executive-legislative relations and policy-making, as well as institutional change and the expansion of legal rights.

Ali’s comments:

“UNC’s Political Science Department is a vibrant intellectual community. I benefited from excellent faculty mentorship and collaboration with fellow graduate students. Moreover, I had ample opportunities to develop both my research and teaching abilities. I secured funding to conduct fieldwork in Latin America nearly every summer and once during the academic year, presented my work at national and international conferences, received feedback on my research from multiple departmental working groups, and served as an instructor of record twice.”


NiedzwieckiSara Niedzwiecki (Ph.D., 2014, assistant professor, University of New Mexico). Sara’s work focuses on social policy and multilevel governance. She is interested in the process through which social policies are formed and implemented in Latin America and beyond. Additionally, she studies the territorial structure of government, with an emphasis on the measurement of the authority of regional governments across countries. Her book projectMultilevel Social Policies and Partisan Alignments combines both research agendas by examining how partisan alignments at state and local levels shape the implementation of non-contributory social policies in decentralized countries. She argues that the successful implementation of major national social assistance and basic health care policies in Argentina and Brazil depend upon whether governors are allied with the national executive or policy recipients are unable to attribute the policy to the national government. Her research has been published by Oxford University Press, Latin American Politics and Society, International Political Science Review, and publishers in Brazil, Germany, and Spain.

Sara’s comments:

“I cannot imagine a better experience than the one I had at the graduate program at UNC. The generosity of faculty, graduate students, and staff showed me the best qualities of academic life and shaped my identity as a committed scholar. The teachings inside and outside of the classroom demonstrated the ways in which academic work can be rigorous, methodologically plural, politically relevant, and collaborative. Faculty and graduate students collaborated in research and in teaching, producing an environment that was conducive for discovering not only co-authors but also life-long friends.”


AtkinsonMary Layton Atkinson (Ph.D., 2013, assistant professor, UNC-Charlotte). Mel’s research focuses on the policymaking process, including agenda setting, issue framing, and public opinion. Her dissertation explores the ways that partisan debate—and news reports that highlight it—shape public attitudes toward policy proposals. She has additional projects that explore gender differences in legislative agendas, the cohesion of the national news agenda, and the dynamics of public mood.

Mel’s comments:  “The department at Chapel Hill is extremely collaborative, and that creates an ideal environment for graduate study. Graduate students study together, form writing workshops, and co-author papers with one another as well as with faculty. Many graduate students (myself included) also have the opportunity to work as part of grant-supported, faculty-led research teams pursing multi-year projects. Through these apprenticeships with faculty, I learned research, project management, and problem-solving skills that simply cannot be taught in a seminar setting. To me, these types of collaborations are at the heart of what makes Chapel Hill so special. I cannot imagine a more intellectually rich and rewarding setting to pursue a PhD in political science.”


KevinBandaKevin K. Banda (Ph.D., 2013, assistant professor, University of Nevada, Reno). His research focuses broadly on public opinion, campaigns, elections, and political communication in the American context. More specifically, his work centers on candidate interaction, the effects of cue taking in attitude formation, and campaign advertising. His research has been published inPublic Opinion Quarterly, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, and Politics, Groups, and Identities.

Kevin’s comments:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UNC. The department as a whole offered me a stimulating intellectual environment and several faculty members provided me with a good deal of mentorship while guiding me through the program. My research and understanding of the discipline as a whole were improved by the presence of various working groups and speaker series. Additionally, I met several of my best friends, many of whom have become coauthors, during my time in graduate school at UNC. The program at UNC was the right fit for me. I cannot imagine enjoying equal success had I gone anywhere else.”


Besir CekaBesir Ceka (Ph.D., 2013, assistant professor, Davidson College). I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Davidson College. I received my Ph.D. in 2013 from the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to coming to Davidson, I was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Broadly speaking, my research and teaching interests lay in the fields of public opinion, political behavior, European integration, international organizations and post-communist politics. My dissertation examines the causes and consequences of political trust and satisfaction with democracy in Eastern Europe. I also study international organizations (IOs) and my research tries to explain the amount of authority states have ceded to IOs in the post-World War II period. My work has been published in Comparative Political Studies and European Union Politics.

Besir’s comments:

“I was very fortunate to get my Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at UNC. The training is first-rate, the academic support is unrivaled, and the close relationships one is able to forge with advisers are immensely satisfying and professionally invaluable.  I got the chance to work closely on research projects with my advisers, and grow as scholar in the process. I also had many opportunities to teach my own courses and enhance my teaching experience and skills. I had an incredible experience overall, and I would recommend this department in a heartbeat.”


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Sarah Shair-Rosenfield (Ph.D., 2013, assistant professor, Arizona State University).  Sarah specializes in the comparative politics of elections, political parties and democratization. She is currently working on three research agendas. First, based on her dissertation research, is a book manuscript on the causes and consequences of electoral reform for democratization, with a focus on post-transition Indonesian development. The second, with a team of international researchers, is a book project on subnational authority in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.  Finally, Sarah also has an active research agenda linking female political representation to both electoral reform and decentralization. This project focuses primarily on Southeast Asia and Latin America and has already produced multiple article-length manuscripts in press and under review.

Sarah’s comments on her training here:

“One of the most valuable things I learned during my time in grad school was that highly critical feedback could effectively produce better research if you knew that the purpose of said feedback was to be encouraging and constructive. The members of UNC’s political science department accomplished this by fostering an environment that prioritized collegiality, collaboration and constructive criticism among the faculty, in faculty interactions with graduate students, and among the grad student cohorts.  During my years at UNC I had the opportunity to present my own research in multiple venues – from the student-faculty Comparative Working Group to a department-wide scholarship seminar to practice job talks – and to get feedback from some of the most highly critical yet extremely supportive graduate student colleagues and faculty members I’ve ever met.  Every bit of that feedback has improved my work so much and taught me the type of environment I hope to foster with my own students and faculty colleagues.”


winecoffWilliam Kindred Winecoff (Ph.D., 2013, assistant professor, Indiana University at Bloomington).  Will’s interests involve the politics of the global economy, in particular the international financial system. He researches how financial firms respond to, and influence, regulatory policies and political institutions, and how these aggregate into a global system of financial interdependence. His ongoing research examines the global banking system using complex network methodologies, the politics of “technocratic” monetary institutions, and episodes of crisis and reform.

Here’s what Will says about his experiences at UNC:

“UNC’s Political Science Department provides excellent opportunities to gain the substantive and methodological knowledge needed to become a professional political scientist. More than that, the culture of the department is supportive, collaborative, and collegial. The program is oriented towards training future academics, and its placement record demonstrates success. One of the best things about the program is the willingness many of the faculty have to work with the graduate students on collaborative research projects. I benefited enormously from such opportunities, as have many of my fellow graduate students.”


BogliacciniJuan Bogliaccini (Ph.D., 2012, assistant professor, Universidad Católica del Uruguay). Juan’s work focuses on the political economy of distribution in developing countries with the aim to understand the political interaction between the state, business, and labor and how this interaction shapes models of production and redistribution. Within this umbrella, Juan has ongoing collaborative projects on the effects of FDI on inequality, and in-firm vocational training in developing countries, as well as other projects on business interest organization and coalitional politics. He is also working on his book manuscript on varieties of capitalism in the developing world. His work has appeared, among other places, in the Latin American Research Review, Reforma y Democracia and The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare States.

Juan’s comments on his experience in Chapel Hill:

“I enjoyed the most out of my years at UNC Chapel Hill. Faculty in the comparative field worked in a collegial manner and graduate students were constantly invited to jump in into projects and discussions. The regular workshops at the Department as well as the workshops jointly organized with people at Duke were among the most precious learning instances for me. Those informal events unveiled the process of knowledge building while discussing either a graduate student or professor’s paper. Upon graduation I have had the opportunity to collaborate in different research projects with UNC professors and fellow graduate students at both UNC at Duke. These ventures are a direct consequence of the collegiality that was in the air at the UNC Department of Political Science.”


ComanEmanuel Coman (Ph.D., 2012, Prize Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford): Emanuel’s research focuses on the behavior of legislators inside and outside parliaments and the way in which institutional arrangements influence this behavior. His dissertation work explores variations in party vote unity in 33 national parliaments, with the help of a unique dataset of roll call votes. His research has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Legislative Studies Quarterly, West European Politics and Journal of Legislative Studies. Currently Emanuel is working on a few research projects that look at the way in which the government’s response to changes in public opinion varies across countries and the way in which institutions mediate this response.

Emanuel’s comments:

“The department at UNC Chapel Hill offered me the top graduate training that I needed to succeed in the job market in a very collegial and helpful environment, and a wonderful place to live. The professors with whom I had the pleasure to work gave me invaluable feedback at every step in my graduate student career, and even nowadays I rely on their advice at every step in my ongoing research. Having worked in Britain for over a year I realized how well regarded the department of political science at UNC is not only in the US (which I had known for a while) but also abroad. This makes UNC graduates competitive in the US and abroad. Overall I had a great graduate experience that I highly recommend to prospective graduate students. “


HardenJeff Harden (Ph.D., 2012, assistant professor, University of Colorado Boulder). Jeff’s areas of specialty are political methodology and American politics. His methodology interests include model selection, robust regression methods, multilevel data, and the use of Monte Carlo simulation to better understand issues that arise in applied analysis. His research agenda in American politics focuses on political representation, mass/elite linkages, and state politics.

Jeff’s comments on graduate school at UNC:

“The political science department at UNC was the perfect place for me to learn how to be a political scientist. I benefited from excellent mentoring by faculty, an engaging intellectual environment, and the resources of a world-class research university. Most importantly, the department was always friendly and collegial. Graduate school is hard work, but that hard work pays off at Carolina.”


KirklandJustin H. Kirkland (Ph.D., 2012, assistant professor, University of Houston). Justin’s research focuses on legislative politics with a particular interest on legislative collaboration and representation. His dissertation focused on understanding the causes and consequences of legislative collaboration across a variety of institutional environments using the variance in state legislative procedures. Articles from his dissertation appear in The Journal of Politics,Legislative Studies Quarterly, and State Politics and Policy Quarterly. His dissertation was also generously supported by the National Science Foundation. He’s recently completed his first book manuscript focusing on how citizen ideology influences party politics and party loyalty in state legislatures, and his ongoing research continues to focus on understanding citizens’ influence over how and why their legislators work together or oppose one another.

Justin’s comments:

“My time as a student at UNC was wonderful. I had outstanding mentoring, great classmates, and the full support of everyone in the department. The department’s reputation for collegiality is well deserved, and many of the graduate students I went through the program with remain my close friends and co-authors. Even after leaving, my mentors remain active parts of my professional life and continue to provide me with counsel. From my point of view, one of the real benefits of getting a PhD in the political science department at UNC is the intellectual freedom the department affords its students. During my time at UNC, I saw students work through dissertations on social networks, the gender politics of state executives, immigration policy, and the politics of romantic relationships. That sort of diversity in intellectual interests is rare in graduate programs, but the department at UNC encourages that sort of high-risk intellectual curiosity. I could not have chosen a better place to study, and I remain very proud to have been a student at Carolina.”


Allison_RovnyAllison Rovny (Ph.D., 2012, Postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for European Research (CERGU), University of Gothenburg, Sweden). Allison’s research focuses on the welfare state, the presence of new social risks in postindustrial political economies, and the growing divide between those deemed to be insiders and outsiders.  The term “new social risks” arguably signifies one of the defining areas of contemporary research on welfare state adaptations in advanced affluent democracies.  In her research, she examines how the various worlds of welfare provision—social policy tools—affect the well-being of new social risk groups, and whether we are indeed witnessing an emergence of labor market and welfare state outsiders.  Her research has analyzed the effects of social policies on the likelihood of being poor among low-skilled populations.  Ongoing research projects consider the extent of dualization across and within advanced welfare states, and probe the extent to which a divide between labor market insiders and outsiders has cemented over time, and whether the welfare state exacerbates or ameliorates this dualism.  Her recent work also considers voting behavior of insiders and outsiders in Europe.  Her work has appeared in Socio-Economic Review and the Journal of European Social Policy.

On my experience at UNC:

“My graduate training at UNC offered me many opportunities, not least of which was the chance to benefit from excellent and critical feedback from some of the best faculty in the field.  The emphasis on qualitative understanding of comparative politics, coupled with rigorous methodological training and application, prepared me well for a professional career in political science.  The program is well structured and gives students background in the key topics and literature, while allowing ample space for students’ own ideas to develop.  I especially appreciated the collaborative and collegial atmosphere between graduate students and faculty, and the open nature of faculty who were more than willing to engage their younger colleagues.  The Comparative Working Group is a highlight for students of comparative politics, for the excellent platform it provides to present research and receive feedback from scholars of all levels within the department, and to receive valuable training in learning how to present one’s own research.”


Joel WinkelmanJoel Winkelman (Ph.D., 2012, Visiting Assistant
Professor, Hamilton College). Joel completed his Ph.D. in 2012 in the field of political theory. His research interests are American Political Thought, and the relationship between work and democracy. Research he completed at UNC has been published in Polity and The Review of Politics. Currently, Joel is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY.

Joel’s comments on his time at UNC:

“My experience at UNC was very fine. My intellectual development was supported by graduate student colleagues and faculty alike. Through training and mentorship, I learned how to develop those of my own ideas that were worth pursuing, and how to discard those that weren’t serviceable. Upon completion of the program, I found that I had formed an unimaginably richer understanding of the social and political world than I had when I began. It changed the way I think.”


BenzJennifer Benz (Ph.D., 2011, Sr. Research Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago). Jenny is a senior researcher managing The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which is a media and research partnership designed to meet challenges of modern journalism and reporting. In this role, Jenny conducts public opinion research on a variety of timely and policy relevant topics. Jenny’s research examines awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and behavior among the public and targeted constituencies. This research has been funded by some of the largest foundations in the country and has been featured extensively in the popular press, utilized by politicians and policymakers, and resulted in scholarly articles.

Jennifer’s comments about her experience in graduate school:

“From my first visit during recruitment weekend, I was attracted to the Department’s collegiality and sense of camaraderie among the graduate students. The faculty expected incredibly high standards from their graduate students, but backed that up with a supportive environment that encouraged collaboration and intellectual exploration. Faculty fostered an environment that rewarded hard work, encouraged constructive criticism, and provided plenty of opportunities to present and get feedback on work in progress. At UNC, I was able to pursue an interdisciplinary course of study and I continue to apply an interdisciplinary approach in both theory and methods to my research. I left UNC both a better colleague and a better researcher and I am grateful for the opportunity to study under the faculty and work with some of the best graduate students in the country. My UNC memories are some of my fondest.”


ClealandDanielle Pilar Clealand (Ph.D., 2011, assistant professor, Florida International University).  Danielle’s research focuses on comparative racial politics and more specifically, racial ideology, group consciousness and racial attitudes throughout the Americas.  Her book manuscript,Uncovering the Power of Race: Racial Ideology and Black Consciousness in Contemporary Cuba, examines the ideological and institutional mechanisms that support racial inequality in Cuba.  It also highlights racial attitudes and group consciousness among blacks and how they are influenced by racial norms and rhetoric on the island.  The book is part of a larger research agenda that brings to light the power of racial ideologies that negate the existence of racism and their effect on racial progress and racial activism.  Before joining FIU, Danielle was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University.

Danielle’s comments:  “My training in comparative politics at UNC was outstanding and the faculty in the department gave me the tools to develop a strong research agenda.  The guidance that I received on my dissertation was crucial to the growth and progress of my book.  My committee really took the time to make me a better scholar!  I received such good and genuine advice from the faculty on my work, the job market, and professional development and am grateful for the experience.  I made lifelong friends at UNC and always recommend the program it to my students!”


patrick-eganPatrick Egan (Ph.D., 2011, assistant professor, Tulane University).Patrick’s research focuses on the politics of monetary regimes, foreign direct investment, and other international political economy topics. He is particularly interested in how host countries condition the activities of multinational corporations, and incorporate foreign investment into development strategies.  His research has been published in Latin American Politics and Society and Review of International Political Economy. His current book project is on the political and institutional determinants of innovative foreign direct investment in developing countries.

Patrick’s comments:

“I received the best training at UNC. The intellectual environment was rigorous and challenging, and I felt well-prepared as I entered the academic job market. I don’t know how my mentors managed to give me so much individual attention with all of their other commitments, but somehow they did. I especially appreciated the fact that UNC faculty members had such a range of methodological expertise. My graduate school colleagues were fantastic.”


KropkoJonathan Kropko (Ph.D., 2011, assistant professor, University of Virginia).  Jonathan works in the area of political methodology, which involves the application of statistics and mathematics to research problems in political science. His research considers models of voting behavior and new ways to draw statistical inferences from historical data.  Jonathan went to a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University before getting a tenure-track position at Virginia, where he still gets to cheer on the Tarheel basketball team twice a year.

Jonathan’s comments about his experience in graduate school:

“UNC gave me a very extensive and very practical education in political methodology.  In addition to the excellent courses I took in the department, I was able to supplement my training with classes in the highly-ranked sociology, psychology, and economics departments, with seminars at the H.W. Odum Center for Research in the Social Sciences, and with courses at Duke, all without any additional cost.  Through these resources, I had access to world-class training for every method that advanced my research agenda, and I don’t think I could have gotten such comprehensive training anywhere else.  I also received a great deal of support from faculty members and other graduate students as I developed this course of study.  Plus, Chapel Hill is a wonderful place to live.  I consider my choice to attend UNC the best choice I’ve ever made.”


AndyPennockAndrew Pennock (Ph.D., 2011, assistant professor, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at University of Virginia) Andy’s academic research examines public policy in the global economy as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning. His academic work has been published in Perspectives on Politics,Economics & Politics, and PS: Political Science & Politics. His applied work focuses on state and local policy issues, including a recent report to the Rhode Island legislature on the State’s 911 system.  He has received multiple university-wide teaching awards both at UNC and Brown.  In 2013 he was recognized by Brown’s Dean of the College, the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, and CIS Academic Technology with a Teaching with Technology Award for two courses:Graduate Statistics and Comparative Policies. In 2012-2013 he was a Junior Faculty Teaching Fellowat the Sheridan Center. At UNC he was awarded the 2010 Tanner Teaching Assistant Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching by the Chancellor, the 2010 Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Award by the UNC undergraduate student body, and the 2006 John Patrick Hagan Award by the faculty as the best graduate student instructor in Political Science.   At Brown he teaches and advises in the MPA, MPP and undergraduate curricula. His courses include statistics, policy analysis, cost-benefit analysis, program evaluation, and comparative public policy.

“UNC provided me the opportunity to learn from excellent mentors in the international relations & comparative politics programs, especially Thomas Oatley.  I am very fortunate to have worked closely with such exemplary scholars and people.  They profoundly shaped how I think about international politics, political science, and teaching.  I am professionally successful because of their investment in me.  In research, in reviewing, and in the classroom I always hold myself to the high standards Thomas and others modeled for me over my years at Chapel Hill. “


RovnyJan Rovny (Ph.D., 2011, assistant professor, Sciences Po, Paris). Jan’s research concentrates on political competition in Europe with the aim of uncovering the ideological conflict lines in different countries. His work explores the issues that political parties contest across the continent, the strategies that different parties follow, as well as the preferences and voting patterns of voters. In addition, Jan is conducting a research project through the Center for European Research at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden where he was a post-doc between 2011 and 2013. He remains associated with UNC Chapel Hill as one of the principal investigators of the Chapel Hill Expert Surveys on party positioning.

Jan has the following reflections on his time at UNC:

“My training in political science at UNC transformed me from a student interested in political topics into a scholar with a developed theoretical and methodological toolkit.  Upon graduation, I was not only ready for the academic job market, I was able to view and analyze the political world in a more profound way. Two factors were central to my formation at UNC. First was the design of the PhD program, offering focused and encompassing progression of courses. The second was the personal approach of the faculty. The professors I worked with at the department mentored me in a guided, yet nonintrusive manner. Their approach was not only wise, it was also caring. Through the combination of support and freedom, the professors elevated me to a mature academic, capable of being responsible for my own educational, research and career choices.”


valdezInés Valdez (Ph.D., 2011, assistant professor, Ohio State University).  Inés is a political theorist who does research on immigration, sovereignty and cosmopolitanism. She is also interested in critical race theory, with a focus on understanding how race and racialization play out in preventing sound political judgment. She is currently working on a book manuscript that puts the cosmopolitanism of Immanuel Kant in dialogue with W.E.B. DuBois’ writings on the international color line. After getting her PhD Inés spent one year in Florence as a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute, before getting a tenure-track position at Ohio State. Her work has appeared in Political Studies and Politics, Groups, and Identities, among other outlets.

Inés’ comments: “The department of political science at UNC Chapel Hill is unique in the way it combines ambitious scholarship with collegiality. The environment among graduate students and between graduate students and faculty was friendly and engaging. To me, it proved to be the perfect combination of critique and encouragement that I needed to become a productive scholar who enjoys the task of research.


Desmarais[1]Bruce Desmarais (Ph.D., 2010, assistant professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst).  Bruce’s primary areas of research include political methodology, computational social science and American politics. In his work, Bruce focuses on precisely identifying the complex ways in which political actors and institutions are interdependent, and developing quantitative methods capable of illuminating these dependencies. Most of his research is cast in the framework of political network analysis. Substantive applications of network analysis include international conflict, defense alliances, interstate terrorism, and legislative collaboration. Recently, Bruce has been working on the analysis of government information management and communication networks.

Bruce’s comments: “The department at UNC provided me with the ideal environment in which to thrive intellectually and develop professionally. The faculty exhibit the crucial combination of superb research accomplishment and intense commitment to graduate student mentoring. I took the unusual path of focusing on research methods in my graduate studies. My mentors were observant and open-minded enough to encourage my pursuits, and exhibited the wisdom and energy necessary to keep my work grounded in political science. The setting for graduate students is exceptionally supportive and collegial — sparking several fruitful collaborations in which I am still involved today. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my graduate training.”


faricyChristopher Faricy (Ph.D., 2010, assistant professor, The Maxwell School at Syracuse University). Chris studies the politics of income inequality including party influences on the divide welfare state, public opinion on tax expenditures, and the politics of tax policy. His dissertation project won a number of awards including – the 2012 Harold D. Lasswell Award for the best dissertation in the field of public policy from the American Political Science Association, and the 2010 Pi Sigma Alpha Award for best paper at the annual conference of the Midwestern Political Science Association. His research has appeared in various journals including multiple times in The Journal of Politics and Political Behavior. Also, Chris’ research project has been featured online in The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and The Monkey Cage.

Chris has these comments about his time at UNC:

“I loved living in Chapel Hill and am proud to have been a graduate student in UNC’s political science program. The UNC faculty provides superior training and the graduate students and staff have created a supportive environment. My substantive interests changed a number of times during graduate school and with each turn I found encouragement, pointed advice, and expert instruction from the faculty.”


Patrick_R_Miller_OPTPatrick R. Miller (Ph.D., 2010, assistant professor,
University of Kansas). Patrick specializes in American public opinion, political psychology, and survey and experimental methodology. He is primarily interested in the symbolic aspects of partisan identification, and how political competition in America comes to resemble intergroup identity conflict similar to racial, ethnic, or religious strife. His ongoing research examines how party identities among average citizens affect attitudes toward civility and compromise, and ultimately how these attitudes might enable the polarization of political elites. Other research agendas focus on the role of emotion in political behavior and how politicized social identities shape policy attitudes.

Patrick’s comments about UNC:

“The political science faculty members are incredibly distinguished scholars and mentors who provided me with the training necessary to succeed in academia. The graduate program is well rounded, offering a rigorous balance of both methodological and theoretical development. For Americanists in particular, the weekly American Politics Research Group meetings are an exceptional forum to meet many of the top scholars in the field and learn how good research is done. The opportunities at UNC to gain extra training through the Odum Institute and the university’s other top rate departments are also hard to match at other institutions. Plus, Chapel Hill is a beautiful and entertaining place with a high quality of life that is hard to match.”


MonoganJamie Monogan (Ph.D., 2010, assistant professor, University of Georgia). Jamie’s research and teaching has focused on political methodology and American political behavior. As a political methodologist, he has demonstrated the usefulness of preregistering studies in political science and for incorporating geographic qualities of data into quantitative work. Within political behavior, he has addressed questions about how representative public policy is of public preferences.

Jamie’s comments about his experience in graduate school:

“The faculty mentorship at UNC is second to none. The opportunity to work closely with faculty in developing a research agenda and even in co-authoring articles is valuable in professional development. Professors at UNC go to extensive efforts to help graduate students and recent alumni succeed.”


WohlfarthPatrick C. Wohlfarth (Ph.D., 2010, assistant professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park). Patrick specializes in American politics, focusing on judicial politics, inter-institutional politics, and quantitative research methods. His research agenda primarily focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court in the separation of powers, including executive branch litigation, the impact of public opinion on the Supreme Court, and bureaucratic politics. Patrick’s dissertation research was supported by a doctoral dissertation improvement grant from the National Science Foundation. In 2010-2011, Patrick was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science and Center for Empirical Research in the Law (directed by Andrew D. Martin) at Washington University in St. Louis. Patrick’s research has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, and the Journal of Law and Courts. Patrick’s research has also received the Best Paper by an Emerging Scholar Award from the Midwest Political Science Association and the Neal Tate Award from the Southern Political Science Association.

Patrick has these comments about his training:

“The University of North Carolina is an ideal place to pursue a doctoral degree in political science.  The department’s distinguished faculty offers the training and mentoring necessary to succeed in academia. Students learn how to produce original research that is both methodologically rigorous and theoretically motivated. Faculty members at UNC are exceptional mentors, helping students to establish a scholarly record and become socialized into the profession of academic political science.From the academic support necessary to develop as a scholar to the benefits of living in a great college town like Chapel Hill, the opportunity to pursue graduate studies at UNC is both invaluable and enjoyable.”


WoodReed Wood (Ph.D., 2010, assistant professor, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University). Reed’s research focuses on the causes of state and non-state actor violence against civilians during civil wars as well as the mechanisms available to the international community to constrain such violence. His research and teaching interests broadly include human rights, state repression, civil conflict, and conflict management. He teaches courses on international relations, political violence and human rights.  He co-manages the Political Terror Scale (PTS), an index of state violations of physical integrity rights.  His research has recently been published in International Organization, the British Journal of Political ScienceJournal of Conflict ResolutionJournal of Peace Research, Human Rights Quarterly, and International Studies Quarterly.

Reed’s comments:

“I can’t speak highly enough about my graduate experience at UNC. The rigorous academic program and related training goes almost without saying. One of the most beneficial aspects of attending UNC was the collaborative environment the faculty created by the faculty. From very early in the program graduate students are encouraged to participate in collaborative research projects with faculty and are treated as colleagues. The mentoring at UNC is also exceptional. The faculty works very hard to professionalize students and help them to integrate into (and build their own) networks in the profession.”


Alixandra YanusAlixandra B. Yanus ( Ph.D., 2010, assistant professor, High Point University). Ali’s research focuses on gender and politics, particularly the relationship between gender and representation.  She is currently engaged in several research projects that examine how political context and socio-demographic indicators affect the descriptive and substantive representation of women in American political institutions.

Ali’s comments on her experiences at Chapel Hill:

“Two things stand out about my experiences at Chapel Hill.  First, and most important, is the collegial environment that the graduate students work hard to foster and maintain.  I am fortunate to have attended graduate school with so many creative and collaborative people, many of whom will remain friends for life. My graduate school experience was also enhanced by the sense of community cultivated by the greatest college basketball program in the country.  I am only half joking when I say I came for the education, and stayed because of Roy’s Boys.”


Agustina GiraudyAgustina Giraudy (Ph.D., 2009, assistant professor, American University)

Agustina is a comparativist broadly interested in the unfolding of politics beyond the central state. Her book, Democrats and Autocrats (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), explores the multiple pathways towards subnational undemocratic regime continuity within democratized countries. Her work, which analyzes subnational political regimes, subnational institutions, and the territorial reach of the state, has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal of Politics in Latin America, Studies in Comparative International Development, Latin American Research Review, Journal of Democracy (en Español), Revista de Ciencia Política (Chile), among others. Agustina’s dissertation received the 2010 Juan Linz Prize for Best Dissertation in the Comparative Study of Democracy awarded by the American Political Science Association.

Agustina’s comments about her experience in graduate school:

I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend my graduate years at UNC-CH. I benefited enormously from the rigorous academic and methodological training, from the access to resources to conduct research, from the exchange of ideas with truly smart and knowledgeable graduate peers, from the research experience of the department’s highly renowned faculty, from the methodological pluralism, but above all from the collaborative and collegial environment created by the political science faculty. I believe the department is quite unique in that it promotes and actively encourages student-faculty collaboration from the very beginning of the graduate education. The mentorship is exceptional and it really helps grad students to become rigorous political scientists. I loved UNC-CH for these reasons and not least for the fact that it promotes collaboration rather than competition among graduate students.



JohnInazuJohn Inazu
(Ph.D., 2009, associate professor of law and political science,Washington University in St. Louis). John’s scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related issues of political and legal theory.  He has published widely in law reviews and specialty journals, and he is the special editor of a volume on law and theology in Duke’s Law & Contemporary Problems.  His first book, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly was published by Yale University Press (2012). In 2014-2015, he was a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

John comments on his studies at UNC:

“I received excellent training from UNC’s political theorists.  My coursework, teaching, and writing during graduate school prepared me well for my current role. The theory faculty were kind, generous, and challenging, and they remain mentors and friends today.”


Ryan Carlin political science

Ryan E. Carlin (Ph.D., 2008, associate professor,

Georgia State University). Ryan’s research interests include public opinion and political behavior in comparative perspective. His work has appeared in the Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Political Behavior, Party Politics, Electoral Studies, Public Choice,Democratization, Justice System Journal, and Revista de Ciencia Politica. Funding for his research has come from the United States National Science Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, the Institute for International Education, the Latin American Studies Association, the Mellon Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Since 2012 he has consulted for the Latin American Public Opinion Project.

“UNC provided an ideal environment for graduate study in political science. Faculty mentoring was tailor made, graduate students from all cohorts were supportive, and there were numerous opportunities for funding and socialization into the profession. I wouldn’t trade my years at UNC for anything.”


moira nelsonMoira Nelson (Ph.D., 2008, senior lecturer-tenured, Lund University, Sweden). Moira conducts research on the nature and determinants of welfare state change. Ongoing research agendas focus on the politics of human capital investment and the role of voters in both reform activity and governments’ reform strategies. A recent project branches into the Latin American context in order to explore lessons for Europe regarding conditional cash transfers. Her work has been published in Comparative Political Studies, European Journal of Political Research, European Sociological Review and Journal of European Social Policy among others.

Moira has this to say about her experience:

“UNC offers a rigorous yet supportive research environment. Faculty members are at the top of their field and make efforts to include graduate students in their research projects while also encouraging students in their own research. There are many opportunities to discuss research with fellow students and faculty as well as pursue research plans abroad. Not least, the curriculum is well designed. Although comparative politics is my unquestionable field of choice, I am grateful for having completed minors in international relations and methods, having gained valuable insights into alternative ways in which to understand the social world in doing so. Further, the general spirit of the department is that we can all learn from each other despite thematic and methodological differences, which is a lesson that I will carry with me and one that I think prepares me well as the discipline invariably changes.”


PribbleJenny Pribble (Ph.D., 2008, assistant professor, University of Richmond). Jenny’s research focuses on the politics of inequality in Latin America.  Her book, Welfare and Party Politics in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2013), develops and tests a theory to explain why some Latin American states have been more effective than others at reforming social policy in a more universalistic direction.  Jenny’s new project examines the issue of labor market inequalities and local-level state capacity.  Her research has appeared in Studies in Comparative InternationalDevelopment, Comparative Politics, the American Sociological Review, and Latin American Research Review.

Jenny’s comments about grad school:

“My experience at UNC was fantastic.  I especially appreciated the relationships that I built with faculty members and my peers.  The Political Science faculty fostered an environment where people were encouraged to ask big and meaningful questions; where methodological pluralism was applauded; and where students were pushed to help one another rather than compete.  I built an extensive network of friends and colleagues who I still rely on regularly for feedback and support.  Pursuing a Ph.D. at UNC was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”


Micah Weinberg (Ph.D., 2008, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute). Micah Weinberg is President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the research arm of the Bay Area Council. In this role, he manages a team of professional researchers who produce world class economic and policy analysis and insight. The Council is an employer-sponsored, public policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. It proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives in the region. Before joining the Council, Dr. Weinberg served as a Senior Research Fellow in the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation.  He is also President of Healthy Systems Project, a firm that delivers policy and market intelligence and strategic guidance in the areas of healthcare and economic development to a range of corporate, association, public, and nonprofit clients.  Dr. Weinberg’s writing has appeared in diverse outlets from Politico to Policy Studies Journal, and he has appeared on Fox News and NPR. He has written and lectured extensively about health system transformation with a particular focus on the insurance market reforms of the Affordable Care Act. In addition to his a doctoral degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with honors from Princeton University with a degree in politics.


EnnsPeter Enns (Ph.D., 2007, assistant professor, Cornell University).  Peter’s research and teaching interests focus on public opinion, representation, and quantitative research methods. In particular, he is interested in whose policy preferences change, why, and whether government responds to these changes. This research has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation and has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Public Opinion Quarterly, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and State Politics & Policy Quarterly. He is also co-editor of the book, Who Gets Represented?

Here are some of Peter’s thoughts about his experience in the Department:

“It was an honor and a privilege to get my Ph.D. at UNC. The environment was supportive and engaging and the faculty taught me to think, write, and research like a political scientist. I could not have asked for a better program!”


KathmanJacob Kathman (Ph.D., 2007, assistant professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY). Jake’s research interests include the study of civil war, political violence, third party intervention, and United Nations peacekeeping. Jake teaches courses in international relations and comparative politics on such topics as conflict, domestic unrest, US and comparative foreign policy, and political violence. Jake’s research primarily focuses on explanations of civil conflict processes and the use of violence by government and rebel belligerents to achieve conflict goals. In addition, Jake’s work seeks to understand what role the international community, notably the UN, can play in ameliorating the brutality of civil wars. His work has been published in theAmerican Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science,International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Journal of Peace Research.

Jacob’s comments:

“The professors are internationally renowned. The training in the classroom is top notch. Options for funding are numerous. But most importantly, the mentoring is excellent. UNC prepares its students for academic success beyond graduate school by engaging its students in collaborative research projects and providing them with the necessary tools for doing high quality research. It’s this training that really pays off as UNC’s graduate students take positions as assistant professors.”


tmustilloThomas Mustillo (Ph.D., 2007, assistant professor, Purdue University).  Tom’s research focuses on political parties and party systems, especially in Latin America and other new democracies. He’s most interested in party systems (like Ecuador’s) that appear to be profoundly chaotic. What incentives drive politicians and parties in those systems? What are the apparent coordination and cooperation failures? What are the sources of those failures? Other areas of research include democracy and democratization, and social policy. His research has appeared in the Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, Comparative Political Studies, and Electoral Studies.

Tom’s comments: “UNC is a great and formative environment. During those years, my passions about justice and democracy in troubled places around the world were forged into disciplined and productive ways of thinking about the world. Excellent and generous mentorship came at me from all directions. I’d do it all over again.”


Aneta SpendzharovaAneta Spendzharova (Ph.D., 2007, assistant professor, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands). Aneta’s research interests are in political economy, regulatory governance and the politics of East Central Europe. In her main research project, she analyzes the preferences of European Union member states in banking sector supervision. Her research has been published in Review of International Political Economy, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of European Public Policy, West European Politics. She is the author of Regulating Banks in Central and Eastern Europe Through Crisis and Boom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Aneta’s comments on her experience at UNC:

“The political science department at UNC has inspired me to be a meticulous researcher and a caring teacher and colleague. Faculty members are not only leading scholars in their field but also encouraging mentors. I have the fondest memories of the comparative politics working group meetings and the graduate student get togethers to prepare for our comprehensive exams. The sense of community and collegiality makes UNC special. Enrolling in the political science graduate program is one of the best choices I have made. I was impressed with the intellectual diversity in the department and appreciated the freedom to shape my own research project.

The UNC political science deparment has an excellent reputation in Europe. Having graduated from UNC was defintely an asset when I was on the job market. The rigorous methods training gave me a strong foundation for my own research projects and for many collaborative projects in which I am responsible for research design and data analysis.”


LunaJuan Pablo Luna (Ph.D., 2006, associate professor, Instituto de Ciencia Política, PUC-Chile). Juan Pablo is interested in the analysis of political parties and democratic representation, the political effects of inequality, and the nature of state institutions. In 2010 he co-authored the book Latin American Party Systems(Cambridge University Press). His dissertation research was awarded the 2008 Juan Linz Best Dissertation Award by the Comparative Democratization Section of APSA and is forthcoming at Oxford University Press. He has also co-edited The Resilience of the Latin American Right (forthcoming at Johns Hopkins University Press). His work has also appeared in Comparative Political Studies, Política y Gobierno, Revista de Ciencia Política, Latin American Politics and Society, International Political Science Review, Third World Quarterly, Journal of Latin American Studies, the Journal of Democracy, Perfiles Latinoamericanos, andDemocratization. Since 2006 he has coordinated the LAPOP Survey (Vanderbilt University) in Chile. He has held visiting professor positions at Princeton University (2008), Brown University (2011), and Harvard University (2013).

His comments about his experience in Chapel Hill:

“In retrospect, pursuing my Ph.D. at UNC-CH was a life-changing decision. Everything I have been able to do in my professional life since 1999 has been a direct result of this decision. During my years at Chapel Hill, the Department of Political Science not only contributed decisively to my formal training, but also provided a home far away from home.  And having graduated almost a decade ago, I continue to benefit from frequent and incredibly fruitful exchanges with my professors and fellow graduate students.”


UraJoe Ura (Ph.D., 2006, associate professor, Texas A&M University). Joe’s research addresses American national politics, especially the United States Supreme Court and macropolitical responsiveness and representation. His research on judicial politics emphasizes the reciprocal relationships between public opinion and the exercise of judicial power in the United States, while his work on representation explores the causes and consequences of heterogeneity in the dynamics of aggregate public opinion. He teach courses on American national government, judicial politics, and constitutional law.

Comments: “I am endlessly grateful for my education and experience at UNC. The department enjoys, values, and cultivates an intellectual and social climate that enables students to benefit from the faculty and their peers. The graduate program gave me the chance to learn from exceptional scholars in an environment that was at once challenging and supportive. I also had the chance to benefit from outstanding student colleagues who were instrumental in my intellectual development and who remain important collaborators and close friends. I could not have had a better experience as a graduate student.”


JYackeeJason Yackee, (Ph.D., 2006, associate professor, University of Wisconsin Law School). Jason’s research focuses on the intersection of international politics and international law.  His dissertation examined whether strong international legal protections for foreign investors succeed in promoting investment to developing countries.  Jason also specializes in the empirical study of administrative law and politics, and has published a number of studies with his wife Susan Yackee (Ph.D. 2004) examining whether procedural constraints on federal agency discretion alter the outcome and efficiency of regulatory proceedings.

Jason’s comments:

“My time at UNC remains the highlight of my experience as an academic, and I look back upon those years with great fondness. The faculty at UNC were always incredibly supportive, even for someone, like me, who entered the program with less than a clear idea of how or where I wanted to make my scholarly contribution. Even after I took a leave of absence to attend law school at Duke, my mentors at UNC, particularly Thomas Oatley, continued to encourage me to continue my dissertation research and to guide me to the end of what, for me, was a relatively long process. I especially appreciated the willingness of UNC faculty, like Thomas, to co-author with their graduate students, an experience that greatly increased my confidence in my abilities and my marketability when looking for a teaching job. And of course, without UNC’s political science program, I would never have met my wife Susan. For that and other reasons, I wouldn’t trade my years in Chapel Hill for anything.”


markovitsElizabeth Markovits (Ph.D., 2005, associate professor, Mount Holyoke College). Liz’s research interests range from ancient Greek political thought to contemporary feminist and democratic theory and have primarily focused on questions of rhetoric, freedom, responsibility, and intergenerational justice. She is the author of The Politics of Sincerity: Frank Speech, Plato, and Democratic Judgment (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008). Her work has also appeared in the Journal of Political Philosophy, the American Political Science Review, Polis and Perspectives on Politics (co-authored with UNC professor and Liz’s former advisor, Susan Bickford). At Mount Holyoke College, Liz has engaged in a number of curricular initiatives, including the development of seminars for the College’s Curriculum-to-Career program, linking liberal arts learning with student’s professional aspirations.

Her comments on graduate school:

“I feel very fortunate to have done my graduate work at UNC. I found the program rigorous andsupportive, the professors intellectually compelling and incredibly generous. My fellow students were excellent colleagues through an important stage of my own intellectual development and remain my close friends to this day. The mentorship from UNC faculty was key at every step of the process—from first-year coursework through the dissertation process and on through job placement—and it’s unparalleled by other graduate programs.”


MorganJana Morgan (Ph.D., 2005, associate professor, University of Tennessee). Jana’s research focuses on issues of inequality, exclusion and representation. She is particularly interested in exploring how economic, social and political inequalities affect marginalized groups and undermine democratic institutions and outcomes. Her research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Latin American Research Review, and Politics & Gender, among others. Additionally, Jana’s first book analyzing how representational failures cause party systems to collapse received the Van Cott Best Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association (Bankrupt Representation and Party System Collapse, Penn State, 2011). She has received funding for her research from the Russell Sage Foundation, the Pew Foundation, and the Fulbright-Hays program.

Jana’s comments about her time at UNC:

“One of the most valuable features of my experience as a graduate student at UNC was how the faculty encouraged me to explore important research questions and to care about understanding how politics has repercussions for people’s lives. This core emphasis on pursuing knowledge with an eye toward issues of substantive significance distinguishes UNC, and my experiences in that environment have profoundly shaped my identity as a scholar and fostered in me an enduring enthusiasm about my work. Moreover, UNC provided all the training, support, and guidance necessary to pursue my intellectual and professional goals. The faculty offer exceptional mentoring, serious substantive expertise, and state-of-the-art methodological training. As a comparativist studying Latin America, the department equipped me to obtain essential external funding in support of my dissertation research in Venezuela, and I also had access to an array of university resources for conducting additional field research. I deeply value my time spent at Carolina as it helped me build a strong foundation for a successful and fulfilling career.”


Long3Stephen Long (Ph.D., 2005, associate professor, University of Richmond). Stephen’s research focuses on the causes of war, the causes and effects of interstate rivalries, and the political sources of military effectiveness in warfare.  His research has appeared in International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, International Interactions, International Politics, and Conflict Management and Peace Science.After spending four years at Kansas State University, Stephen moved to the University of Richmond, where he earned tenure in 2015.  His students at UR have won the Truman Scholarship, the Pickering Fellowship (Dept. of State), the Boren Scholarship (National Security Education Program), the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, and the Running Start/Wal-Mart Star Congressional Fellowship.  They have been accepted for graduate studies at Harvard University (Kennedy School), Yale University (Jackson School), Tufts University (Fletcher School), Georgetown University (SFS), the London School of Economics, American University (SIS), and Johns Hopkins University (SAIS).  In 2011, he won the Academic Advising Excellence Award. He teaches courses on international relations, American foreign policy, and international security.

His comments:

“In my years at UNC, I transformed from a passive consumer of academic research to an active participant in the ongoing scholarly dialogue in international relations.  Working with Mark Crescenzi, Thomas Oatley, and Tim McKeown, I learned fundamental skills: how to identify topics worthy of exploration, frame interesting research questions and hypotheses, and evaluate those hypotheses using the methods that are most appropriate to the problem. Just as important, the faculty at UNC always treated me as a young colleague, inviting me to co-author with them and allowing me to take on increasingly independent teaching responsibilities. I will always be grateful to the department for what they did for me and my classmates.”


KellyNathan Kelly (Ph.D., 2004, associate professor, University of Tennessee).  Nathan’s research focuses on economic inequality in the United States and cross-nationally as well as time series methodology. His is interested in how politics and policy shape distributional outcomes and how the mass public responds to changes in economic inequality. His research has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation. He has published a book with Cambridge University Press and is the author of articles appearing in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, Political Research Quarterly, American Politics Research.

Nathan’s comments about his experience in graduate school:

“I loved my time at UNC. I received excellent substantive and methodological training. The faculty were extremely supportive, and the graduate students were eager to see each other succeed. I found the American Politics Research Group to be a wonderful way to gain exposure to the broader discipline and it also provided a great example of how vibrant the intellectual life of an academic department can be. Unsurprisingly, I remain friends with many colleagues from my cohort and have become friends with many other more recent UNC Ph.D.s. Perhaps more surprisingly, some of those relationship have turned into very fruitful ongoing co-authorships. Overall, I cannot imagine a better graduate school experience. And the benefits of that experience have become even more apparent as I’ve spent more time away from UNC.”


kelleher, christineChristine Kelleher Palus (Ph.D., 2004, associate professor of Public Administration at Villanova University).  She is currently serving as Interim Dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Christine’s research focuses on urban politics, state government, and public administration and management.  Her work has been published in numerous outlets, including the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Administration Review, State and Local Government Review, Urban Affairs Review, American Review of Public Administration, British Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, The Journal of Public Affairs Education, and Political Research Quarterly.

Some comments on my time at UNC:

“My five years at UNC were incredible.  The mentorship I received from my faculty supervisors, especially the late Deil Wright, David Lowery, Michele Hoyman, and Virginia Gray, was absolutely invaluable and extremely formative.  I use the knowledge, skills, and wisdom they imparted every day.  The opportunity to work so closely with these faculty members on varied projects and publications was instrumental to my career. Additionally, my fellow graduate students have become lifelong research partners and friends.  I am extremely grateful to the entire UNC community for the way in which everyone there helped me to shape me as a scholar and a teacher.”


FuentesClaudio A. Fuentes (Ph.D., 2003, Director of the Social Science Research Institute (ICSO) at Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago,Chile). Claudio’s work focuses on several dimensions of democratic politics. His early research focused on human rights and civil military relations during transitions to democracy in Latin America, followed by studies of the protection of citizens’ rights within a democratic framework, especially police violence in Argentina and Chile.  His most recent work addresses the formal and informal dynamics of constitutional reform in Chile, and the political intermediation between legislators and citizens (particularly indigenous people).  His dissertation received the American Political Science Association Award for Best Dissertation from the Human Rights Section.  In 2011 Claudio held the Andronico Luksic Fellowship as Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.  He is author of four books and five edited volumes.

My time in UNC:

“I can honestly say that UNC changed my life in several ways. First, I had an excellent academic experience, learning every single day about theoretical and methodological approaches toward politics. Second, I met outstanding professors who cared about students inside and outside the classroom setting. Finally, students and professors developed a very good network of collaboration that continues up today”.


Solt, FredFrederick Solt (Ph.D., 2003, assistant professor, University of Iowa). Fred’s primary research interests are in comparative politics, the study of why politics is different in different countries.  They focus on the consequences of economic inequality for political attitudes and behavior.  His work on this topic has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, and other journals. To facilitate this research, he created and maintains the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID), which provides the most comparable data available on income inequality for countries around the world over the past half-century.  The SWIID is now relied on by academics in a wide range of disciplines, by NGOs, and by major international organizations.

Fred’s comments about his experiences at UNC:

“I think the most striking thing about studying political science at Chapel Hill was how well the department instilled in me and my classmates the very best sense of what it means to be a scholar.  The faculty constantly inspired us to take on big, important questions; challenged us to dedicate ourselves to finding the best evidence for answering them; and demonstrated for us that figuring out how the political world works is necessarily a collaborative process, a task that we always take on together, even when we work alone.  I can’t imagine a better place to study.”


witkophoto2014Christopher Witko (Ph.D., 2003, associate professor, University of South Carolina). Chris’ research focuses on how organized interests use their resources, especially campaign contributions, to influence policy at both the state and federal level and on the determinants and consequences of policies that influence the distribution of resources in the first place (e.g. education, budgetary and economic policy).  Chris’ research on these topics has appeared in the The American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Political Research Quarterly and numerous edited volumes.

Chris’ comments about his experiences in graduate school:

“UNC was the perfect choice for me.  It had, and still has, some of the leading experts in American politics and public policy.  In addition to this substantive expertise, the department is well-known for rigorous methodological training, which has helped me throughout my career.  The social environment at UNC was also very welcoming and supportive – I have ongoing collaborative relationships with a number of my graduate student colleagues and even students that attended UNC after I left.  I also have great relationships with many of the professors that I worked with during graduate school.  Chapel Hill is also a great place to spend a few years.  If I had to do it over again, I would definitely choose UNC.”


Lafollette School of Public Affairs Aug. 24, 2010. (Photo © Andy Manis)

Susan Webb Yackee (Ph.D., 2003, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison).  Susan’s areas of specialty include the U.S. public policymaking process, regulation, administrative law, and interest group politics.  Yackee is particularly interested in the politics of regulatory policy formation.  Her work has been published in articles in a number of journals, including the Journal of Politics, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, British Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Yackee recently received a $500,000 grant to study the U.S. FDA’s policy decision-making process.  She currently serves as the Director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Yackee’s comment on graduate school at UNC-CH include:

“I had great training at UNC, and as a scholar of the U.S. policymaking process, it was particularly advantageous for me to train with some of the top American politics scholars in the country.  I have terrific memories of my peers at UNC, as well.  That network of other graduate students has been instrumental to me—both personally and professionally.”


Matt Fellowes (Ph.D., 2002, Chief Innovation Officer of Morningstar). Matt Fellowes is the Chief Innovation Office of Morningstar. In this capacity, Matt is responsible for developing, implementing and managing new business and product ideas throughout the organization.  Prior to this role, Fellowes was the founder and CEO of HelloWallet, which was acquired by Morningstar in 2014. HelloWallet is a reflection of Matt’s commitment to democratize access to independent financial advice for all workers.

Before founding HelloWallet, Matt was a Fellow at the Brookings Institution. His consumer finance work has been published in academic journals and covered in top media around the world, including feature stories in BusinessWeek, USA Today, the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and ABC World News, among others. Matt has testified in front of the U.S. Congress and State Houses across the country and advised dozens of elected officials, businesses, and banking regulatory agencies on consumer finance issues.

Matt has served as a professor of public policy at Georgetown University and George Washington University, as a project director at the Pew Charitable Trusts, and on academic editorial boards. A native of Chicago, he holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MPP from Georgetown University, and a BA from St. Lawrence University. In addition to receiving numerous awards for his work, Matt had the honor of being selected by the Huffington Post as a Top 100 Game Changer and a Tech Titan by the Washingtonian Magazine. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters.

Matt’s comments about UNC: “UNC was the perfect choice for my Ph.D. graduate work.  I got access to some of the top Political Scientists and methodologists in the country, an intellectually stimulating and fun-loving group of fellow grad students, and close proximity to Washington, DC, where I could nurture relationships with policymakers and public intellectuals at think tanks.  Numerous research opportunities also allowed me to publish several academic papers during my years at UNC as a student, which gave me broad access to both academic and applied policy opportunities.”


ChoupAnne Marie Choup (Ph.D., 2001, associate professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville).  Anne Marie’s research examines the changing relationships between governments and historically marginalized populations.  Her current research focuses on citizen demands and government responses to gender-based violence.  She has also carried out research on the interaction between grassroots organizations and democratizing Latin American government.  Anne Marie has published on Latin America in various journals (Social Movement Studies, the Journal of Civil Society, the International Political Science Review, and Development and Change, and on civil society and democratization in the Sub-Saharan African context in Politics.

About UNC: “I was not entirely sure that UNC was for me when I decided to come.  I was living and working in Cameroon as a high-school English teacher with the Peace Corps when I applied, and I had never set foot on the Chapel Hill campus.  I was prepared to feel completely disoriented from both re-entry culture shock and from living in the south for the first time.  As it turns out, this was a great decision for me.  The working environment is challenging, but the environment and people are top-notch and provide not only excellent training and critique, but also logistic support and encouragement for students to do their best work.  My training at Chapel Hill has given me the tools – and on-going support network of former classmates and faculty – for getting great jobs and a satisfying career.”


EwigChristina Ewig (Ph.D., 2001, associate professor, Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.)  Christina’s research centers on the politics of gender and race in Latin America.  Her first book, Second-Wave Neoliberalism: Gender, Race and Health Sector Reform in Peru (Penn State University Press, 2010) focused on the politics of market-oriented health sector reforms in the 1990s and 2000s and their impact on gender and racial equity.  This book won the Flora Tristán award for best book on Peru in 2010-12 from the Peru Section of the Latin American Studies Association. She has also carried out research on gender and social policy reforms in Colombia and Chile. Her current research compares women and indigenous peoples in Latin America, and the relationship between their advances in political representation and substantive changes in political agendas. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Feminist StudiesLatin American Politics and Society, Latin American Research Review, Social Politics, and World Development.  Her research has been supported by a Fulbright New Century Scholars award and a Rockefeller residential fellowship.

Christina’s comments:

“UNC not only gave me top-notch training in Comparative politics, the professors also gave me great confidence in myself and my abilities. Having faculty push me intellectually, but at the same time support and believe in me as a potential scholar helped me to become the scholar I am.  I appreciated the Department’s methodological pluralism, and its commitment to area studies.  It was the best place I can imagine to study Latin American Politics.  I not only developed lasting relationships with faculty and students in Political Science whose work focused on Latin America, but also grew intellectually through the many interdisciplinary workshops on Latin America made possible through the UNC-Duke collaboration in Latin American Studies.”


LlamazaresIván Llamazares (Ph.D., 1998, professor, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain). Iván’s research has focused on sociopolitical conflicts, party formation and party-voter links in Latin America and Europe.  In Salamanca he teaches courses in comparative politics and political theory. His work has been published in Acta Politica, América Latina Hoy, Pôle Sud, Revista de Estudios PolíticosSocial Forces, South European Society and Politics, and West European Politics.

Says Iván:

“The time I spent at UNC-Chapel Hill was intellectually fruitful and personally enriching. I deeply enjoyed the atmosphere of study and critical thinking that I experienced there among faculty and fellow students.  The teachings, criticism, and advice provided by the political science faculty allowed me to take a big methodological and theoretical step forward.  The commitment of the comparative politics professors to high-quality research and their generous support of graduate students provided me with enduring examples of the goals to which faculty must aim. I also enjoyed the rich variety of opportunities offered by the UNC campus, as well as the company of fellow students, some of whom became life-long friends.”


Schaller, ThomasTom Schaller (Ph.D, 1997, professor, Department of Political Science, University of Maryland, Baltimore County). At UMBC, Schaller teaches courses in American government, including the American Presidency, Interest Groups & Lobbying, and Campaigns & Elections. He is the author of The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress but Surrendered the White HouseWhistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, and co-author of Devolution and Black State Legislators: Challenges and Choices in the Twenty-First Century. A twice-monthly political columnist for the Baltimore Sun, he has published commentaries in The New York Times, The Washington PostLos Angeles TimesThe Boston Globe, The American Prospect, PoliticoSalon and The New Republic, and has appeared on ABC NewsThe Colbert ReportMSNBCNational Public Radio, PBSand C-SPAN. Since 2004, Schaller, 47, has given lectures on American politics and elections in more than a dozen countries on behalf of the U.S. State Department. He resides in Washington, DC.

“My education at UNC was vital to my career, and key members of the Department of Political Science were instrumental in helping me find a great job at UMBC. I remember my days in Chapel Hill fondly, and am proud to be a Tar Heel and a graduate of UNC’s doctoral program in political science.”


Cushman, ChuckDr. Chuck Cushman (Ph.D., 1996) is Dean of Academics in the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, DC. He came to NDU from Georgetown, where he was a Senior Fellow at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute (2011-14). Previously, he spent a decade as an associate professor at the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University, where he taught courses on political history, politics and public policy, national security policymaking, and Congress’s roles in defense policy. He was Acting Director of the School 2010-11.

He did his graduate training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he completed a Ph.D. in American Politics (1996). His research focuses on the role of Congress in setting US national security policy. He is the author of An Introduction to the US Congress (2005), several book chapters and articles, and a forthcoming book on Congress and national security policymaking.

Between completion of his degree and his position at GW, Chuck was a defense consultant working on force structure and strategy for Headquarters, US Air Force; the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and the Space Commission. He was director of legislative relations for an advocacy group working to advance peace in the Middle East, and was defense and foreign affairs Legislative Assistant to Rep. David Price (D-NC) in the 105th Congress.

Chuck’s comments about his time at UNC:

“My time at Carolina was an amazing preparation for a career in both teaching and applied settings. I used my coursework immediately on a campaign, and all of my studies made me a more effective advocate and consultant in Washington. And my work in the field made me a much better teacher when I returned to the classroom full-time.”


JayBarth_State_Board_Edu_ppresizedJay Barth (Ph.D. 1994, M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Distinguished Professor, Hendrix College).  Jay’s academic work includes research on the politics of the South, state government and politics, LGBT politics, political communication (particularly radio advertising), and the achievement gap in Arkansas.  He is the co-author (with the late Diane D. Blair) of the second edition of Arkansas Politics and Government: Do the People Rule? (University of Nebraska Press, 2005). He blends his academic work with work in the public arena. For instance, since 2012, Jay has been an appointed member of the Arkansas State Board of Education and serves in leadership roles on a variety of national and local nonprofit boards.   Barth was named the 2014 winner of the Southern Political Science Association’s Diane Blair Award, presented biennially to a political scientist who has played an outstanding role in politics and/or government during their career at the local, state, national or international level.

Jay’s comments about UNC:

“While some may have seen it as a distraction from their graduate work, the opportunity to teach my own courses at Chapel Hill helped me find my calling for liberal arts education, where teaching is the central component of the institution’s mission.  Within about two weeks of teaching my first course (Southern Politics) in the fall of 1990, I knew I’d found my calling.   The preparation for my life that mixes teaching, research, and public service had its roots at the graduate program at UNC.”


Nelson_DometriusNelson Dometrius (Ph.D., 1979, professor, Texas Tech University). Nelson has served as the Texas Tech MPA Program Director, Director of the Center for Public Service, Director of Political Science Graduate Programs, and chair of the Department.  His research, emphasizing state government and politics, has appeared in The American Journal of Political ScienceThe Journal of PoliticsPublic Administration Review, Political Research Quarterly,State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other journals.  He has served on the editorial boards of The Journal of Politics, and Texas Journal of Political Studies and currently serves on the editorial board of State Politics and Policy Quarterly.

“The most valuable thing I obtained from my time at UNC was a host of lasting friendships, both with fellow graduate students and with the UNC faculty.”


shivelyPhil Shively (Ph.D., 1969, Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota). His first teaching job was at the University of Oregon.   He left there to join the department at Yale University, and then moved to Minnesota.  He studies comparative electoral behavior and methods of aggregate data analysis, and has written on party identification, historical development of parties and electorates, and methods of cross-level inference.  He has served as editor of the American Journal of Political Science, program chair for the national meetings of the American Political Science Association, and as principal investigator and chair of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project (CSES).  At the University of Minnesota he has been inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers for his undergraduate teaching.  He has also helped out in the administration of the University of Minnesota, serving as Provost for Arts, Sciences, and Engineering.

Phil’s comments about his time in graduate school:

“My five years of graduate work at North Carolina were the most intellectually exciting years of my life.  It was a time of great change in political science, and UNC faculty were in the forefront of many developments in the discipline.  The faculty were terrific, but probably our very diverse group of graduate students contributed more to each other’s development even than the faculty did.  It was just a very heady time.  I remember buying a copy of Blalock’s Causal Inference in Non-experimental Research the day it came out.  I took it home, started to read it, but couldn’t put it down; I read through the night and finished it at 8 AM.  North Carolina was a great place for me to develop as a political scientist, and I believe the faculty and graduate students today maintain that same wonderful intellectual environment.”


JenningsM. Kent Jennings (Ph.D., 1961, professor, UC Santa Barbara, as well as Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan).  Kent is a former president of the American Political Science Association and has won so many awards we do not list them all there (but here’s a few: Guggenheim, Ford Foundation, Sage, NSF, American Academy of Arts and Science).  Here is what Kent has to say about his time at Carolina:

“I happened to begin my graduate program just as the ‘behavioral revolution’ in political science was getting underway.  Fortunately, for me at any rate, the UNC department was one of the earliest to pick up on the movement.  Especially during my first two years a number of leading lights came in for guest appearances.  In our seminars we were encouraged (told) to grab hold of the new work that was coming out.  Along with several of my peers I learned about survey research, how to build a codebook, and how to run the counter-sorter (interactive in its own right and now available only at the Smithsonian!).  We were encouraged to participate in professional meetings, my first one being at the Southern Political Science Association.  I received strong intellectual and monetary support as I conducted field research for my dissertation.  Faculty support did not end with the completion of my graduate work because my mentors undoubtedly helped me secure my first two positions.  Over the years I have tried to keep at least somewhat informed about the department and have been delighted to observe that the highly conducive atmosphere for graduate work that I found long ago continues to characterize the department.  When I started graduate school I made a choice between UNC and another fine department.  The other one would not have been a mistake, but I definitely made the right choice.”