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Highlights & Happenings

CSDI Graduate Affiliates Sara Kirshbaum and Mellissa Meisels Win Department Awards

Kirshbaum_final  Meisels_final

Congratulations to Sara Kirshbaum and Mellissa Meisels! Sara was awarded the 2023 Erwin Hargrove Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and Mellissa the 2023 Best Graduate Student Research Paper Award.

CSDI Welcomes 2023-2024 Postdoctoral Fellows Amna Salam & Rachel Lienesch


Amna received her PhD from the University of Rochester in Political Science. Her research centers on strategic behavior in the legal system, and how various actors in the judiciary work to advance their ideological interests. 

Rachel received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. Her research focuses on American political behavior, political psychology, race and ethnicity, and identity. Her book project explores how individuals respond when two salient identities are put into conflict, with a specific focus on how White Democrats navigate a social and political world in which the political party they support increasingly engages in messaging that threatens their racial identity.

The Spring 2023 Vanderbilt poll was released on May 3rd

More on the poll and its findings can be found here




The Fall 2022 Vanderbilt poll was released on December 14th

More information on the poll and its findings can be found here.



CSDI is now accepting applications for 2023-24 Post-docs and Senior Visiting Scholars

Post-doctoral fellowship applicants should submit materials electronically at:

Senior Visiting Scholar applicants should submit materials electronically at:

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, but priority will be given to those received before January 20, 2023.

CSDI Graduate affiliate, Michael Shepherd Wins APSA Dissertation Award

Congratulations to Michael Shepherd who has been awarded the APSA Class and Inequality Section best disseratation award for his disseratation, Unhealthy Democracy: How Partisan Politics is Killing Rural America.


CSDI Co-Director, Dean John Geer and CSDI Graduate Student, Mary Catherine Sullivan appear on MSNBC's Morning Joe


John Geer and Mary Catherine Sullivan appeared on MSNBC's  Morning Joe to discuss their research on American unity.  Watch the entire interview.

Larry Bartels Honored with 2022 SEC Faculty Achievement Award


Congratulations to CSDI co- director, Larry Brtels for winning the 2022 SEC Faculty Achievement Award. The award, now in its 11th year, recognizes faculty members from each of the 14 SEC universities for excellence in research and teaching, particularly at the undergraduate level. Read more

CSDI Welcomes Postdoctoral Fellow Marva Goodson for the 2021-22 Academic Year

Goodson, Marva

Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of crime-involved women's social network constructions. Specifically, her research utilizes egocentric social network methods to identify participant, network member, and structural network characteristics that are associated with women's access to resources and recidivism rates. Marva is a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow (2018-2019), Duke Social Network & Health Fellow (2018-2019), King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellow (2017-2018), and recipient of the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.

Congratulations to CSDI Graduate Affiliate Michael Shepherd on 2020 Awards and Publications

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Graduate affiliate, Michael Shepherd had a very successful 2020. He was presented with  the department of Political Science's Outstanding Graduate Student Paper for his work entitled “The Politics of Pain: Medicaid Expansion and the Opiod Academic.”.  He also received the Timothy E. Cook Best Graduate student paper award from the American Political Science Association’s Political Communications Section for  “Look Up at the Mansion on the Hill: Does Mass Media Activate the Politics of Resentment.” which was co-authored by former graduate affiliate Marc Trussler.

Michael also co-authored 2 published articles.  "The Politics of Locating Polling Places: Race and partisanship in North Carolina Election Administration, 2008-2016" was featured in Election Law Review and "The Effect of Big-city News on Rural America During the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

CSDI Welcomes 2020-2021 Postdoctoral Fellows
David Miller and Marzia Oceno

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David received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.  His research focuses on the presidency, organized interests, and legislative politics and addresses substantive issues including representation and inequality in political voice.  His book project explores how presidents engage with organized interests to pursue their goals.

Oceno_headshotMarzia received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2020. Her research focuses on how gender-related attitudes and identities influence U.S. public opinion, candidate evaluations, campaigns and elections, and voter as well as legislator behavior. At Vanderbilt University’s CSDI, she plans to expand on her dissertation and transform the resulting research into a book manuscript, titled The Feminist Paradox: How Labels Keep Women Candidates from Equal Representation.

 Fun Quarantine Update!

We all were excited to see Co-Director, Larry Bartels’ Unequal Democracy being part of question on Jeopardy! The category was Obama's reading list and Nina was correct for $1,600.



  "Safer at Home" has not slowed us down!

Here is a sample of what we have been up to:

The Washington Post: Negative views of Asian people have risen in both parties - John Sides

CNBC: Coronavirus could push Americans to lobby for a social safety net like Europe's experts say - Josh Clinton is quoted

The Atlantic: The economy is collapsing. So are Trump’s reelection chances. - Larry Bartels is quoted.

NBC News: Delay the November Election? What voters think about the coronavirus and the campaign -Josh Clinton

The Washington Post: Why Trumps approval bump isn’t helping him against Joe Biden - John Sides

U.S. News and World Report: Can Democracy survive coronavirus? - John Geer is quoted.

The Washington post: : Surprisingly few voters think Trump cares about 'people like me'  - John Sides


 CSDI Graduate Affiliate Richard Hagner promoted to LTC

VU poll CSDI celebrated the promotion of graduate affiliate Richard Hagner in a ceremony on Saturday September 9th at the John Seigenthaler 1st Amendment Center. The promotion to Lieutenant Colonel was presided over by Lieutenant General Thomas A. Horlander. Other distinguished attendees were Lieutenant General (Ret.) Gary Cheek, Major General Bradley Gericke, Major General Gene Leboeuf, and Dr. Robert Davis as well as professors, colleagues, family and friends.  

 LTC Hagner is one of four Army officers attending Vanderbilt through the Army's Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program (ASP3).  ASP3 is a Chief of Staff of the Army initiative to develop strategic thinkers and future strategic leaders.  LTC Hagner's research focuses on institutions, the defense appropriations process, and national security outcomes.   Following completion of his dissertation next Spring, LTC Hagner will return to the Army to continue his military career.   


CSDI's  Shannon Meldon-Corney receives Staff Excellence Award

VU poll Congratulations to CSDI program coordinator, Shannon Meldon-Corney who received the College of Arts and Sciences Social Science Staff Excellence Award for 2018-19.

These awards recognize individuals who have provided outstanding service to faculty and students or who in other ways have significantly advanced the mission of the college in the previous academic year.



CSDI Welcomes 2019-2020 Senior Visiting Scholars Damarys Canache and Jeff Mondak

VU poll CSDI is pleased to announce 2019-2020 visiting scholars Damarys Canache and Jeff Mondak are in residence at the department.

Damarys, professor of political science at the University of Illinois and long-time LAPOP collaborator, studies comparative political behavior, especially in Latin America. Her current project examines the nature and consequences of polarized political attitudes in Venezuela.

 Jeff, the James M. Benson Chair in Public Issues and Civic Leadership at the University of Illinois, studies American and cross-national political behavior and political psychology. He is currently developing a conceptual and empirical framework for exploring citizen competence using a task-based approach.

 CSDI Welcomes 2019-2020 Postdoctoral Fellow Shawn Patterson

VU poll CSDI is happy to announce that 2019-2020 postdoc Shawn Patterson has started his appointment. Patterson received his Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA. His research focuses on the influence of political parties and interest groups in primary elections. The work stems from a larger collaborative project, Parties on the Ground, a multi-method approach to understanding nominations and the composition of political parties.

Oppenheimer Reconsidered Pictures

Oppenheimer Reconsidered was a great success!

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Oppenheimer Reconsidered

VU pollCSDI is hosting the Oppenheimer Reconsidered conference honoring Professor Bruce Oppenheimer on his retirement this coming April 25th and 26th. Over 30 former student, colleagues, and friends from across the United States will come together to present current scholarship on congressional politics and representation, including elections, institutional rules and norms, institutional change, and the legislative process. A concluding roundtable on future directions in the study of Congress will feature Oppenheimer, former student Frances Lee, David Rhode and Morris Fiorina. MORE

CSDI graduate affiliate Sheahan Virgin receives "Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant" Award

VU poll CSDI graduate affiliate Sheahan Virgin received the College of Arts and Science’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award at a college-wide faculty meeting on December 4th. Virgin has taught several courses, the most recent of which, Campaigns & Elections, was a guided independent study course pairing class lectures and discussion with immersive internship experiences in state and local political campaigns and a revise-and-resubmit paper project.


Political Science Undergraduate Student Nicholas Ainsworth Wins Award for Summer Research Project


 Undergraduate Nicholas Ainsworth, who is double majoring in Political Science and Disability Studies, received an award in the Social Sciences division of the Undergraduate Research Fair for his summer research program work. The project, titled “What Determines People's Attitudes Towards Transit?: Examining the Impact of Partisanship, Race, and Unequal Development” explored how people form opinions on transit policies. Among other tools he used data collected in the CSDI sponsored Vanderbilt University polls that examined Nashville residents’ opinions regarding the cities’ transit policy. Congratulations Nicholas!