University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Mia Costa
Communication is a Two-Way Street: Race, Gender, and Elite Responsiveness in U.S. Politics

Mia Costa is a doctoral candidate with a focus in American Politics and political methodology. She studies representation, political behavior, experimental and survey methods, and political networks. Specifically, her substantive research is motivated by an interest in understanding (1) which Americans are best represented, (2) what kinds of representation Americans want from government, and (3) whether citizen participation improves representation. Her work has been published in Political Research Quarterly, Political Behavior, and Review of Policy Research.  She currently serves as a UMass Poll Survey Research Fellow and the Editorial Book Review Associate for the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis. She will defend her dissertation in March 2018.
Curriculum Vitae


Robert Darrow
Dissertation: Alternative Power: The evolution of wind technology in Denmark and the politics of energy transitions

Robert Darrow is a doctoral candidate in the subfields of comparative politics and political theory, with a commitment to interdisciplinary social science research. He works primarily in the areas of energy policy, environmental politics, and technological development. His dissertation, "Alternative Power: The evolution of wind technology in Denmark and the politics of energy transitions," which he will defend in May 2018, charts the progress of wind power development in Denmark over four decades, as the Danes became world leaders in the adoption of renewable energy. The mixed-methods study draws on six months of fieldwork in Denmark, dozens of in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, and a new dataset of Danish wind turbines to analyze how the country's electricity system has evolved, and the consequences of these changes for democratic politics. Robert is currently a fellow in the National Science Foundation IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program at UMass. He holds Master's Degrees in political science, philosophy and science and technology studies from Virginia Tech. In the past, he has conducted research on mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia, and participated in an NSF-funded study comparing renewable energy policies at the state and local levels around the United States. He has also worked in the electric utility industry on nuclear power issues.
Curriculum Vitae


Kaylee Johnson
Dissertation: Whitewashed: The Racialization of America’s Middle Class Identity

Kaylee Johnson is a Ph.D. candidate in her fifth year. Her project explores the ostensibly popular, inclusive, and race-neutral middle class identity, focusing on the extent to which it is racialized. I contend that the middle class identity is exclusive on the basis of race. Media depictions of the middle class as White help to shape and this racialization, which manifests in citizens implicitly associating the middle class identity with Whiteness and stark racial differences in middle class identification. As such, what appears to be an inclusive, catch-all identity racially restrictive and the middle class trope problematic. She has been published in Political Behavior, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. I have also served as a fellow on UMass Poll. My other research interests include political communication, women's political behavior, and how elites communicate ideology with the public.
Curriculum Vitae


Rebecca Lisi
Dissertation: Latino Race Cards? Demographic Change, Negative Campaign Advertisements, and White Mobilization

I am a doctoral candidate (Ph.D. expected May 2018) concentrating within the fields of American Politics and Public Policy. My research is focused in the field of American politics and examines the impact of changing racial demographics on the public opinion, political behavior, and public policy. I am currently writing my dissertation in which I explore the impact that negative campaign ads featuring Latinos have on white vote choice and public opinion. This is a multi-method research project for which I was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG).

I am also a five-term incumbent City Councilor at Large in Hoyoke, MA. I identify as a scholar-practitioner and have found that being able to articulate a theoretical phenomenon with local actors or anecdotes is really rewarding because it demonstrates that politics is not something that happens “out there,” but instead is something that we are all engaged in and shaping to a greater or lesser extent.
Curriculum Vitae


Samuel Stoddard
Dissertation: Why Education Matters: Political Participation and Interpretive Experiences at High School

Samuel VanSant Stoddard is a doctoral candidate specializing in American Politics.  His research interests include political participation, political behavior, political parties, and elections.  Sam's dissertation seeks to unpack the strong correlation between educational experiences and voter turnout.  He uses quantitative data from the National Education Association and original qualitative research to explore how young citizens' attitudes and behaviors are affected by high school experiences that honor their achievements, connect them to their communities, and demonstrate the value of public institutions.  Sam has also conducted research on state political parties for the Brookings Institution, examining the diminished power of these vital quasi-public institutions in America's increasingly crowded and complex political landscape.  Before joining the Department of Political Science at UMass Amherst, Sam was a secondary school teacher and education advocate in Brooklyn, New York, and earned his Masters in Education at Pace University.  Sam is an experienced undergraduate instructor in the fields of American politics, public policy and legal studies; in addition to his teaching at UMass Amherst, he has taught undergraduate courses at Assumption College, Clark University, Smith College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 
Curriculum Vitae


Tyler Schuenemann
Dissertation: The Public Life of Hurricanes: Asserting State Power in a Warming Globe

Tyler is a seventh year Ph.D. candidate in comparative politics and political theory.  His dissertation, “The Public Life of Hurricanes: Asserting State Power in a Warming Globe,” examines the political effects of global climate change by focusing on the power struggles which attend tropical cyclones in Oman and the United States.  Employing ethnography, interviews, and archival research, his project documents how tropical cyclones challenge state power materially, by removing the capacity to govern specific territory, and symbolically, by focusing popular attention on the inability of modern states to control the vicissitudes nature.  His year-long field work in Oman was funded by a Fulbright Research Award.  Tyler’s teaching focuses on comparative politics and political theory, and he has acted as the primary instructor for “Politics and Government of the Middle East” for two semesters, and “Interpretation and Analysis” for one semester.  He was the recipient of his department’s Recognition for Excellence in Teaching Award, and nominated for the UMass Amherst Distinguished Teaching Award.  He has presented his work at several conferences, including “The Annual Meeting of Middle Eastern Studies Association,” “Vision(s) of Politics: the Thought of Sheldon Wolin,” at York University, “On Protest: a Research Symposium,” at UMass Amherst, and “A Cultural Approach to Human Security” at the University of Toronto.  He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and History from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto.
Curriculum Vitae


Candan Turkkan
Dissertation: Embodied, Rationed, Precarious: Conceptualizations of Sovereignty in Urban Food Regimes           

I am a PhD candidate at University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Political Science. I specialize in political theory and interdisciplinary studies. My dissertation (Fall 2017) maps how cities are fed, and in conjunction, interrogates the relationship between economy and sovereignty. Through a case study of how Istanbul’s provisioning has changed since the late Ottoman period (19th century), it unravels the ways in which food, bodies, and biological processes have become objects of intervention for the modern nation-state, and, more contemporaneously, for neoliberal economics. My work touches on each node of the urban food supply chain, and discusses how new consumption patterns, production practices, transportation and commodity tracking technologies, banking and investment innovations, and telecommunication infrastructures altered the supply chain. I proudly hold the Graduate Certificate of Advanced Feminist Studies from UMASS Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department and MA degrees from New School for Social Research (’12) Department of Politics, and New York University (’10) Department of Politics. I have received multiple awards and scholarships, including a Fulbright Scholarship (2008 – 2010), Best MA Award (2012), Certificate of High Honor (2005 -2008), Dean’s Fellowship Award (2012-2013).

I also write widely about food, politics, culture and film. My essays have been featured in Yemek ve Kultur, Solfasol, and Radikal Blog, and I write regularly for the quarterly food politics journal, MetroGastro. Before joining the Department of Political Science, I worked in the Republic of Turkey Office of the Prime Minister Directorate General of Press and Information New York Branch as a full time translator, editor, and communication specialist. I also held researcher positions at various international organizations and NGOs, and academic institutions.
Curriculum Vitae


Wouter van Erve
Dissertation: The Paradox of Town Meeting: The Influence of Forms of Local Government on Citizen Representation

Wouter van Erve is a Ph.D. candidate in American Politics and Public Law. Before enrolling in graduate school, he earned law degrees in both The Netherlands and the United States and worked for the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (District Attorney’s Office). His research interests are located on that intersection of law and politics: how can laws and institutional structures affect how citizens are able to participate in political life? His dissertation addresses the paradox of how larger, more accessible political institutions don’t always encourage broader participation and better representation on the local level through a comparison of city council governments to New England-style representative town meetings. Excerpts of Wouter’s research have been presented in front of town committees and published in local newspapers in New England.
Wouter has significant experience teaching political science and legal studies courses, and has taught extensively in the UMass Residential Academic Program (RAP). Aimed at first-year students, this program offers them the opportunity to take small courses in a variety of subjects in an intimate residential environment. In addition, Wouter has offered several online courses through UMass’ division of Continuing and Professional Education (CPE).
Curriculum Vitae