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The 2017-2018 Department of Political Science at Michigan State University Job Market Candidates

Michigan State University’s graduate program in Political Science is proud to present our current job market candidates.  Our program produces productive scholars and excellent teachers; many have presented papers at professional conferences and have served as teaching assistants or taught their own courses.  We encourage you to give consideration to our candidates.  For each student, you will find a curriculum vitae and student bio.


Seo Youn Choi
Dissertation: Bureaucracy and Democracy: Bureaucratic Profiles of the OECD Nations and Citizens’ Attitudes toward Government

SeoYoun’s research examines the cross-national similarities and differences in administrative systems, and public attitudes toward governments. Understanding the relationship between bureaucracies, politicians, and citizens is central to her research agenda. She has been teaching courses in public administration and policy making, American public policy, and comparative public policy at MSU. SeoYoun assisted in teaching quantitative methods courses at MSU (for both undergraduate- and graduate-levels) and at the University of Michigan ICPSR Summer Program. She received her PhD in Political Science from Michigan State University in 2014 and her master’s degree in Public Administration from Ewha Womans University (Seoul, Korea) in 2007. For further information, please visit her website, https://sites.google.com/view/seoyounchoi .

Committee: Saundra K. Schneider (Chair), William G. Jacoby, Eric C.C. Chang, and Sandy Marquart-Pyatt


Daniel Hansen
Dissertation: Economic Policymaking in the World: Rules, Transparency and International Constraints

Daniel developed a deep interest in International Political Economy, particularly international economics, central banking, financial crises, and the public reaction to these institutions and events.  He is interested in the roots of popular frustrations with the Federal Reserve, how these perceptions have been molded, and whether these sentiments are likely to influence future policymakers and to what degree.  He is also strongly interested in studying the efficacy of Fed and ECB policies since the financial and fiscal crises.

Committee: Cristina Bodea (chair), Michael Colaresi, Eric Chang, and Ben Appel


Alon P. Kraitzman
Dissertation: The Dynamics of Political Leaders’ Popularity Ratings in Parliamentary Democracies

Alon Kraitzman’s major research interests are public opinion, political institutions and executive politics. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Communication, and an M.A. in Political Science from Tel Aviv University. His research has been published in PS: Political Science & Politics and Presidential Studies Quarterly. In his work, he includes both cross-national and case-study analyses, with a broad geographic scope, covering Israel, the United States, European countries, as well as Australia, and Canada. His dissertation research focuses on popularity ratings of political leaders as an indicator of leaders’ ability to govern effectively and asks what explains variation in public evaluations of prime ministers. In other research projects, he examines the influence of issue salience and attribution of responsibility in public opinion, focusing on the relationships between presidential approval ratings and the economy in the United States.

Committee: Charles W. Ostrom, Jr. (chair), Eric C.C. Chang, Corwin D. Smidt, and Paul R. Abramson


Elizabeth Lane
Dissertation: Legal Quality and the United States Supreme Court

Elizabeth’s primary research agenda examines the interplay between law and politics on the United States Supreme Court.  In her dissertation, Legal Quality and the United States Supreme Court, she develops a novel measure of legal quality to assess the contemporaneous impact of law on merits decisions.  To develop this measure, she was awarded a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant to digitally photograph and content analyze 6,100 bench memoranda of 11 former Supreme Court justices, who sat on the Court from 1946-1993.  These memoranda are authored by the justices’ law clerks prior to oral argument to synthesize all of the legal documents related to a case, with a particular focus on merit and amicus curiae briefs.  Bench memoranda offer a rigorous analytical assessment of the strength of the arguments in relation to one another.  With her measure of legal quality, she aims to provide a better understanding of the impact of law on judicial decisions, and its constraining, or encouraging, capacity for justices to pursue their preferred outcomes.  In addition to her dissertation research, she is also interested in the Supreme Court’s interaction with other branches of government, the behavior of actors within these institutions, and how the public perceives them.

Committee: Ryan Black (Chair), Corwin Smidt, Ian Ostrander, Eric Gonzalez-Juenke


Chunho Park
Dissertation: Political Consequences of Economic Inequality

Chunho’s primary research interest lies in comparative political economy and electoral politics, broadly speaking. He investigates how political actors interact under different economic conditions and political institutions, and then what political consequences these interactions produce in the context of electoral politics. He is especially interested in substantive topics related to economic inequality and redistribution, political institutions, elections and electoral behavior, and ethnic politics. He received his Ph.D. on May 2017. He holds B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from Seoul National University. Please visit chunhopark.weebly.com for further information.

Committee: Eric C. C. Chang (chair), Cristina Bodea, Jeffrey K. Conroy-Krutz, Christian Houle


Peter Penar
Dissertation: My Brother’s Keeper?  The Effects of African Regional Organizations on Election Quality and Leadership Alternation

Peter Penar is a PhD candidate and previous holder of the University Distinguished Fellowship (2011-2016) in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. Peter has been featured in interviews with the BBC, CNN, CNBC Africa, South Africa’s 702 and PowerFM, and Voice of America radio, and his editorial pieces appear in newspapers across Africa, including the Mail & Guardian. Peter’s research interests focus on democratization in African countries and human rights, particularly the role of international actors in transitions and human rights protection, such as the African Union, subcontinental regional organizations (EAC, ECOWAS, and SADC), and international NGOs. Peter has conducted extensive fieldwork, including conducting interviews of political leaders in eight African countries and at four African regional organizations (African Union, EAC, ECOWAS, and SADC). Peter is also engaged in interviewing political and civil society leaders remotely for a project that is systematically examining communities of political leaders. Between 2012 and 2015, he was a research assistant for the Afrobarometer. Peter was also the lecturer for the Introduction to Comparative Politics (PLS 140) course for three semesters and presently teaches an upper-level course on democratization and political institutions.

Committee: Michael Bratton (Chair), Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz, Michael Colaresi, Benjamin Appel


Jamil Scott
Dissertation: Explaining Candidate Supply: The Role of Candidate Training Programs
in State Politics

Jamil’s research interests lie in the areas of political behavior, political representation, race and ethnicity politics and gender politics. She seeks to explain individual’s motivations to participate in political activities in conventional ways, particularly as candidates as officeholders, as well as in unconventional ways, like protest and political engagement via social media. Moreover, she examines the behaviors of officeholders within office as a means of understanding political representation and behaviors within institutions, such as legislatures. She is particularly interested in the ways in which women and minorities engage in these activities at the state level. She pays special attention to how the intersections of gender and race can influence the political experiences of women of color.

Committee: Eric Gonzalez Juenke (chair), Matthew Grossmann, Melinda Gann Hall,
Corwin Smidt, and Nadia Brown (outside committee member)


Jacob Snyder
Dissertation: Leisure: Ancient and Modern

Jacob’s dissertation is a thematic study of leisure, both ancient and modern. The project seeks to define leisure at its peak, which is found in the work of Aristotle. Next, Jacob examines the loss of leisure by looking to Locke’s rejection of leisure in favor of work and labor. Finally, he points to ways in which various strands of American political thought incorporate Locke’s moral and political arguments for labor, and addresses ways in which modern and contemporary life might still encompass substantive experiences of leisure despite labor’s ascent.

Committee: Steven Kautz (chair), Arthur Melzer, Corwin Smidt, and Benjamin Kleinerman