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Students on the Market

The following Ph.D. candidates are on the job market for the 2016-2017 year:

Allison M.N. Archerallison


Mollie J. Cohen

  • Curriculum Vitaemollie
  • Major fields of Study: Comparative Politics and Political Methodology
    • Dissertation Title: The Causes and Representative Consequences of Invalid Voting in Latin America
    • Dissertation Defense Date: August 18, 2016
    • Dissertation Abstract: When asked to make a choice at the ballot box, many Latin Americans choose “none of the above.” These invalid (also called blank, null, and spoiled) votes regularly “win” over candidates from smaller political parties in Latin American presidential contests. Why are so many willing to bear the costs of turning out to vote but then choose not to select a candidate, and to what political effect? With support from a National Science Foundation Dissertation Enhancement Grant, my dissertation addresses these questions. First, contrary to existing scholarly perspectives, I demonstrate that invalid voting is a protest signal but tends not to be a sign of anti-democratic attitudes: those who cast spoiled ballots are disappointed by specific policy outcomes or with the particular candidate offerings presented to them at election time rather than with democracy itself. Next, I delineate how features of political competition that change – specifically polarization, the number of candidates competing, and flux in the partisanship of those options – affect voters’ attitudes toward politics and thus variation in invalid voting. This chapter resolves a critical puzzle concerning why rates of invalid voting vary across time. Finally, using data from Peru, I focus on elites’ strategic decision-making and show that different types of parties respond differentially to metrics of political opportunity when election outcomes are uncertain: while big-tent parties selectively enter competition in response to standard metrics of political opportunity, smaller radical parties respond to alternative metrics of opportunity, including historical rates of invalid voting.
    • Advisor: Elizabeth J. Zechmeister

Beth A. EstesBeth

  • Curriculum Vitae
    • Major fields of Study: American Politics and Political Methodology
    • Dissertation Title: Legislating Status: The Political Fight for Prestige
    • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2017
    • Advisor: Cindy D. Kam (chair)

Scott Limbocker

  • scott.limbocker@vanderbilt.eduscott
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Major fields of Study: American Politics and Political Methodology
  • Dissertation Title: The Consequences of Political Participation: A Study of the US Bureaucracy
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2017
  • Dissertation Abstract: My dissertation explores the political actions of employees in elections and the consequences of those actions to the modern administrative state. How politically active are bureaucrats? Do they vote, participate, give money to candidates? What effect does this have on their influence in the bureaucracy? These are particularly important questions since the American political system increasingly relies on bureaucratic governance that is presumed to be politically neutral. My research demonstrates that the political behavior of individual bureaucrats varies according to their personal beliefs and values related to their perceived career trajectories. I examine if these perceptions manifest into actual promotion within, and exit from, the agency for these executives. I also provide nuance to the understanding of agency politicization by generating new measures of what it means voters, activists and campaign contributors to staff senior positions in an agency, and then consider these new measures related to past explanations of politicization. By understanding the actions and beliefs of federal employees and the consequences of these actions, my dissertation illuminates underappreciated aspects of the politicization of the bureaucracy.
  • Advisors: Joshua D. Clinton and David E. Lewis

Mark D. Richardson

Bryan A. Rooney

  • bryan.a.rooney@Vanderbilt.Edu
  • Curriculum Vitae bryan
  • Major fields of Study: International Relations and Political Methodology
  • Dissertation Title: Emergency Powers in Democracies and the Outbreak of Conflict
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2017
  • Dissertation Abstract: Scholars argue that institutions in democracies constrain leaders and prevent international conflict. However, many democracies specify rules of governance in times of emergency that divert substantial power to the head of state. The existence of emergency powers creates incentives for political leaders to create situations where they can declare emergencies in order to get access to these powers. I collect original data on emergency provisions, examining 147 state constitutions, over 500 amendments, and numerous legislative acts in democratic states from 1816 to the present. Using this novel dataset of emergency provisions within democracies, I examine the relationship between emergency power strength and domestic conflict, international conflict propensity and crisis escalation. I exploit the specificity of the state’s constitution as a plausibly exogenous determinant of emergency power strength in an instrumental variable analysis. Under this more stringent test for causality, I find that emergency powers do create incentives for political leaders to foment conflict. I then examine the impact of the use of these powers on the likelihood of terror attacks and find that enhanced executive discretion helps states battle transnational terror but encourages domestic terror attacks. An unforeseen consequence of allowing democratic leaders enhanced power to navigate external conflicts is an increased propensity for conflict, and that institutional rules designed to preserve the democratic order may in fact undermine it.
  • Advisor: Brett Benson

Carolyn E. (Carrie) Roushcarrie

Guilherme A. Russogui



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