Hire a UNC Ph.D.
UPDATE IN PROCESS: 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.
For more information about any of our students, please see their individual web sites as listed below or contact Professor Frank Baumgartner, Placement Director
Emily Cottle Ommundsen. American Politics/Methodology. Dissertation: Investments in Institutional Capacity (Roberts, Treul, Kroeger, Curry, Wiseman). Members of Congress run for office with a variety of goals they hope to achieve if elected. How members go about achieving these goals is constrained by numerous institutional factors, yet there exist two areas in which members hold a great deal of discretion: the allocation of their time and budget. As the de facto CEO of their small business, members must make decisions regarding the operation of their enterprise. They must determine where their priorities lie and how best to establish their office to meet such goals. New members, in particular, as they enter Congress with a fresh slate and an empty office, are confronted with a slew of organizational choices they must make, often before their first day in office. In this dissertation, I uncover how the choices members and committee chairs make in establishing and maintaining their congressional and committee offices affect both their legislative and electoral outcomes. By analyzing where members and chairs choose to devote their resources, we can learn if members put their money where their mouth is. Publications: Legislative Studies Quarterly (forthcoming), Political Behavior (forthcoming), PS: Political Science & Politics (forthcoming), The Forum. Status: PhD Candidate, expected graduation in May 2024. Teaching Interests: Introduction to American Politics; Congress; The President, Congress, and Public Policy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: emilyommundsen.com.
Colin Case: American Politics/Political Methodology. Dissertation: Candidate Differentiation in Congressional Elections (Treul, Hetherington, Olivella, Roberts, Ryan). In modern congressional elections, the overwhelming majority of districts are considered safe, with only one political party having a viable chance of winning in the general election. As a result, partisan primary elections serve as the main arena for potential electoral competition. But members and candidates in these elections cannot rely on party brands to gain voters’ support; they must be strategic about the ways in which they differentiate themselves from co-partisans to maximize their electoral chances and convey information about their candidacy to voters. My dissertation and broader research agenda focus on the ways in which candidates respond to these electoral dynamics in primary elections, as well as the implications of this behavior as it relates to election outcomes, lawmaking, polarization, and representation. In pursuing this research, I develop and employ advanced computational methods to assess candidate and member behavior in Congress with a particular interest in high-quality measurement. My job market paper uses an original data set of over 45,000 issue statements from about 6,000 primary candidates who ran in the 2018, 2020, and 2022 congressional primaries. Using this data, I assess the extent to which incumbent candidates respond to the positioning of primary challengers. While previous research has tested this hypothesis, there has been a lack of evidence that incumbents respond to the positioning of primary challengers. I argue this is due to the use of aggregate measures of positioning that focus on legislative behavior rather than campaign positioning. From candidates’ campaign issue positions, as presented on their campaign website, I develop a new measure of candidate positioning using word embeddings. This new measure both increases the number of candidates with an issue position when compared with existing measures, as well as captures actual campaign behavior instead of approximations of campaign behavior. With this measure, I show incumbent candidates do respond to the positioning of primary challengers and become more extreme (moderate) in their issue positions in response to an extreme (moderate) primary challenger. Publications: Political Behavior, Journal of Political Marketing. Status: PhD Candidate, expected graduation in May 2024. Teaching Interests: American Politics, Political Methodology. Email: email@example.com. Website: colinrcase.com.
Jacob Gunderson. Comparative Politics. Dissertation: Jacob’s research interests include party competition in developed democracies, party systems, inequality, and political behavior. Publications. His research has been published in leading international journals including the British Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, and Policy and Society as well as forthcoming articles in Party Politics and the European Journal of Political Research. In his dissertation, Jacob argues that one cause of contemporary political change, broadly defined, in European politics is the weakening of party brands—the image in voters’ minds of who parties are and what they stand for. These party brands are crucial because they form the foundation of how citizens identify, distinguish, and evaluate the political parties competing for their votes. He deploys large-N quantitative, experimental, and interview methods to investigate various ways that party brands have changed over time and influence citizens’ political behavior. This research develops and nuances existing research on the processes that have led to brand convergence across European political systems. Status: Beginning in May 2023, Jacob Gunderson will be a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Gothenburg as part of the INTRAPARTY Project. He received his Ph.D. in May 2023. Previously, he was also a Guest Researcher with the Zentrum für Zivilgesellschaftsforschung at the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung Berlin from January to June 2022. Teaching: In addition to his research, Jacob has also taught courses on American, comparative, and European politics. For more information on these courses and Jacob’s research visit his website. Website: https://www.jacobrgunderson.com/.
Isabel Laterzo: Comparative Politics/Political Methodology. Dissertation: The Politics of Public Security: An Analysis of Campaigns and Policy in Brazilian States (Hartlyn, Martínez-Gallardo, Olivella, Huber, García-Ponce – external member). This book-length dissertation examines state-level public security politics, with a predominant focus on Brazil. Past scholarship often relies on a unidimensional concept of public security, in which progressive actors support community-oriented, preventative strategies while conservatives endorse tough-on-crime, repressive approaches. However, there is increasing evidence that this is a misconception. In fact, it is often progressive politicians that are quite “conservative” regarding public security, while conservatives often mix their proposals with “progressive” strategies. I present evidence of this phenomenon and contend that we must re-orient our thinking regarding public security policy. I develop a new way to consider and measure related policy proposals, one that does not assume an ideological link. I build a multidimensional concept of public security policy that focuses on four, non-mutually exclusive policy areas which politicians combine. I employ this concept to investigate the ways in which politicians conceptualize, propose, and pursue these agendas, focusing on state-level candidates and officials who hold significant power in the public security area. I analyze this topic using a mixed methods approach, leveraging an original database of long-form campaign proposals (manifestos), over 100 expert interviews conducted in three Brazilian states, and fine-grained administrative data. My results point to several important nonideological factors which influence politicians’ proposals and actions. For example, I show how law enforcement officers constitute a powerful interest group and can influence politicians to prioritize protecting their autonomy and investing in the force, often at the expense of investment in human rights protections. My work also examines how these findings apply to other contexts, such as Mexico and the United States. Publications: The Journal of Criminal Justice, The Journal of Politics in Latin America, Revista Latinoamericana de Opinión Pública (The Latin American Journal of Public Opinion). Revise & Resubmit: The Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies Status: On the 2023-24 academic job market; graduation expected in the spring of 2024. Teaching Interests: Comparative Politics, Political Methodology, Latin American Politics, Comparative Criminal Justice. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.isabellaterzo.com
Nicolás de la Cerda: Comparative Politics/Methodology. Dissertation: Beyond Partisanship: Political Identity Profiles in Latin America (Hartlyn, Conover, Hooghe, Huber, Bakker). In my dissertation, I develop a novel framework for describing and analyzing processes of formation and expression of political identities. I apply this framework to the Latin America case and, using novel data, show that contrary to what previous research has concluded, political identities are strong and consequential in this region. I find that political identities associated with charismatic movements (e.g., Chavismo, Peronismo, Fujimorismo) and ideological labels (e.g., left/center/right) are central to the way in which Latin Americans see themselves, have substantive consequences for the way in which they process political information, and shape political attitudes and behavior. To measure these different sets of political identities, I developed multi-item scales uniquely tailored for the comparative study of political identities and use statistical procedures from the psychology literature to provide evidence of the validity of these scales. More generally, findings from my dissertation underscore the importance of carefully theorizing about the characteristic of party systems for the study of political identification and show that, without it, researchers can mischaracterize and misunderstand key political dynamics in the developing world. Publications: Party Politics, Journal of Politics in Latin America, Latin American Research Review. Status: Ph.D. Candidate (graduation expected in May 2024). Teaching interests: comparative politics, political psychology, methods. Email: email@example.com. Website: www.nicolasdelacerda.com.