Hire a University of Houston Ph.D.
Philip D. Waggoner PhD (2018 expected)
Dissertation Title: Sponsorship and Specialization in Congress
Philip Waggoner is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, studying American legislative institutions. From interactions amongst democratic institutions to strategic decision making, Philip uses a variety of statistical techniques and measurement theory to address questions related representation and those with political power. His dissertation unpacks the justification behind legislators' decisions to use bill sponsorship to advance their careers. Specifically, he demonstrates that bill sponsorship is a highly nuanced and strategically leveraged tool for signaling policy priorities, pursuing representation responsibilities, and also for signaling issue specialization. His research has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal of Legislative Studies, Research & Politics, and The Social Science Journal. He received a B.A. in Political Science from Colorado State University, an M.P.A. from the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver, and worked full time in local and state politics in Colorado for several years. He is currently on the American politics job market.
Dissertation Committee: Justin H. Kirkland (Chair), Brandon Rottinghaus, Jennifer H. Clark, Boris Shor, Justin Grimmer (Stanford)
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Kenicia Wright PhD (2018 expected)
Dissertation Title: The Ties That Do Not Bind: Social Capital, Minority Female Representation, and Social Inequality in the United States
Kenicia Wright is a doctoral candidate with research interests in public policy, the interplay of race, gender, and political representation, and state politics and policy. In her dissertation, Wright studies what empowers women of color to advance their political voice in American democracy. She applies the intersectional framework and the institutional approach to offer an innovative theory that posits social capital as a crucial component of minority female representation and explores the effects these women have on social inequality in health care access and health care outcomes.
Wright has several publications, including a chapter, "Power and Minority Representation" in the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy, a co-authored article with Prof. Ling Zhu, "Why Do Americans Dislike Publicly Funded Health Care? Examining the Intersection of Race and Gender in the Ideological Context." in Politics, Groups, and Identities, and a chapter, "Electoral Reform and Minority Representation" (with Prof. Jason Casellas) in Changing How America Votes.
She has also been the co-instructor of Introduction to Public Administration and has research assistant experience and extensive teaching assistant experience in courses including Quantitative Methods and Applications (Masters of Public Policy level course), Statistical Methods for Policy Research III (Masters of Public Policy level course), and courses directly related to her areas of expertise. Wright is a 2017-8 recipient of the CLASS Dissertation Completion Fellowship and will graduate in May 2018.
Dissertation Committee: Ling Zhu (chair), Jason Casellas, Jennifer Clark, Kenneth J. Meier (A&M)
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Leonardo Antenangeli PhD (2018 expected)
Dissertation Title: Determinants of Subnational Corruption: The Case of Brazil
Dissertation Committee: Pablo M. Pinto (Chair), Francisco Cantú, Tanya G. Bagashka
Leonardo Antenangeli is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science. His research agenda focuses on subnational determinants of corruption in Latin America, with a particular interest in the case of Brazilian municipalities. In his dissertation, he explores a bottom-up approach to combating corruption. The first chapter combines a novel measure of corruption with a natural experiment to determine whether increased government transparency has an attenuating effect on levels of municipal corruption. The second analysis assesses whether revealed corruption prompts elected officials to extend an olive branch to citizens by implementing participatory budgeting institutions, which allows citizens to take on a more active role in monitoring government expenditures. Finally, the third chapter weighs how much influence the local political climate (of corruption) has on citizens’ decision to engage in corrupt acts. Findings suggest that cleaner governments induce citizens to obey the law. When these conscientious citizens increase their involvement in the government – through greater transparency and participation –, we observe a reduction in levels of municipal corruption. Combined, these factors create a promising cycle where citizens are able to reduce levels of corruption, resulting in a more honest government that, in turn, generates an environment that encourages citizen integrity.
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Emilia Barreto PhD (2018 expected)
Dissertation Title: Political Determinants and Policy Effects: An Investigation of the European Environmental Legislation
Dissertation Committee: Pablo M. Pinto (Chair), Ling Zhu, Ryan Kennedy
Emilia’s research interests center at the intersection of international relations, comparative politics and comparative policy studies. Her research centers on the impact of the international context, electoral politics and the economy on policy making. Her dissertation, for instance, investigates the determinants of European environmental policies (1995-2015) and the policies’ effectiveness. Initial findings suggest that international relations and party ideology influence the policy making process. Results also suggest that, despite the costs, more stringent environmental regulation may positively impact trade through technology development, and that economic growth in the studied period is negatively associated with environmental degradation, which indicates that such environmental policies are indeed effective.s
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Yeaji Kim PhD (2016 expected)
Dissertation Title: Education and Democracy
Dissertation Committee: Eduardo Aleman (chair), Pablo Pinto, Justin Kirkland, David CampbellHer dissertation explores how education stimulates democratic values and political participation, as well as the policy implications of these effects on the possibility of authoritarian reversal and democratic consolidation.
The first chapter assesses conditions under which states experience authoritarian reversal or democratic consolidation cross-nationally. She argues that increasing educational attainment decreases the likelihood of authoritarian reversal and promotes the survival of democracy. In particular, this outcome is more prevalent in the developing countries than in developed countries. Her second dissertation chapter argues that education has a positive influence on citizens' democratic values and tolerance, regardless of regime type. For example, previous research asserts that people who were educated and socialized under authoritarian regimes are less likely to be democratic. However, in an analysis of Mexican public opinion data, she finds that education promotes democratic values regardless of regime type. Even individuals who were educated under the pre-2000 Mexican authoritarian regime are more likely to support democracy when they are more educated. The third chapter investigates explanations of voter turnout in the United States. Contrary to the conventional belief of decreasing voter turnout, she demonstrates that instead of decreasing, voter turnout has been relatively static by extending the time period from 1960 to 2012, a 52-year time span in relation to the previous average time span of 30 years. Yeaji reassesses a variation in voter turnout with regard to the effect of generation and education. By analyzing public opinion data from the General Social Survey (GSS) from 1972 to 2014, she finds that there is no generational effect on voter turnout. Yeaji also shows that the positive effect of education on voter participation diminishes over time. In particular, education does not increase voter turnout during the 2000s.
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Margarita M. Ramírez PhD (2016 expected)
Dissertation Title: Why do legislators participate during COFs? Rethinking the relationship between electoral incentives and participation patterns in Congressional Open Forums
Ramírez analyzes the determinants of participation during Congressional Open Forums (COFs) -- the open periods of the legislative session that allow non-lawmaking speeches. She argues that parties and legislators have different patterns of participation in non-lawmaking speech forums than during regular bill deliberation. While the scholarship expects chamber behavior to be either on an individual or collective basis depending on the country's electoral rules, her theory predicts that there will be a mixture of both types of behavior during COFs. She theorizes that during these forums, legislators' behavior will be rooted more in various chamber disadvantages held by individuals and parties than it is in the electoral rules. She hypothesizes that electorally vulnerable legislators from all parties and disadvantaged freshman legislators from the majority will participate individually, while disadvantaged parties will participate collectively. Ramírez relies on her own original dataset -- which contains counts of open non-lawmaking speech deliveries per legislator from the lower-or-only chamber of Costa Rica, Panama, Uruguay, Chile, and U.S.A. -- to test the implications of her theory.
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Roger Abshire PhD (2018 expected)
Dissertation Title: The Problem of Constitutional Discretion
Dissertation Committee: Jeremy D. Bailey, Jeffrey Church, Brandon Rottinghaus, George Thomas
Roger’s research and teaching interests focus on American Political Thought, American Political Development, Modern Political Thought, Constitutionalism, Constitutional Law, Judicial Process, and American Politics. He has presented several papers in these fields and has taught an undergraduate Constitutional Law course. His dissertation, titled “The Problem of Constitutional Discretion”, traces the institutional and theoretical development of three discretionary constitutional powers (legislative procedural rule making, the presidential pardon power, and jurisdictional equity), and argues that the constitutionalization of discretionary power undermined the American constitutional project.
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Ndifreke Ette PhD (2018 expected)
Dissertation Title: Carl Schmitt’s Middle Course: ‘The People’ as Actors within the Constitution
Dissertation Committee: Jeffrey Church (Chair), Jeremy Bailey, Alin Fumurescu, Peter C. Caldwell (External Adviser, Rice University)
Ndifreke Ette is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science, where his research focuses on democratic theory, modern political thought, constitutionalism in the Weimar Republic and Carl Schmitt’s political thought. His dissertation investigates Carl Schmitt’s ideas on popular participation in politics. At University of Houston, Ndifreke has taught courses on American Government and the political theory of modern Conservatism and Progressivism.
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