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Job Candidates

Hire a University of Houston Ph.D.

Our graduate students have strong records of accomplishment and promise. Some of our recent graduates have accepted tenure-track faculty positions at CIDE, Utah State University, Lamar University, and the University of Alabama. Others have been awarded pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard University and Rice University. We are excited to call your attention to students entering the academic job market in Fall 2015. For more information about any of our students, please refer to their web sites or contact Professor Eduardo Aleman (, the Graduate Placement Coordinator.

American Politics


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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Comparative Politics


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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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

Dissertation Committee:

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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Political Theory 


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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