ISPS launches new postdoctoral and predoctoral fellowships

At the start of the 2022-23 academic year, six fellows are joining the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS) for two new programs producing political science research aimed at answering questions central to the functioning of our democracy.

“We are very pleased to welcome these outstanding scholars and students to our ISPS research community,” said Alan Gerber, Director of ISPS. “They each possess the curiosity, the discipline and the drive to investigate issues critical to understanding the nature and threats to our democracy. And I look forward to helping them contribute new ideas to advance scientific understanding of democratic representation and governance, as well as to address the current and emerging challenges we face.

Kaylyn Jackson Schiff and Michael Pomirchy work as resident postdoctoral fellows with ISPS’ first interdisciplinary program Democratic innovations programme, designed to identify and test innovative ideas to improve the quality of democratic representation and governance.

Schiff is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Purdue University. She will spend the year at Yale to continue her research at the intersection of technology, citizenship and government. With his co-authors, Schiff published a study demonstrating that certain public value failures associated with artificial intelligence have significant negative impacts on citizens’ evaluation of government. Another of his articles examines whether shootings involving officers deter citizens from contacting the government.

For the ISPS’ Democratic Innovations Program, Schiff is studying whether citizens’ interests expressed in government through online communications, such as emails and tweets, translate to the same level of representation and responsiveness than interests expressed offline, such as letters or phone calls. In partnership with cycling advocacy groups, she plans to study the effectiveness of online advocacy campaigns to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in American cities and towns.

Schiff earned his Ph.D. and MA in Political Science from Emory University and earned a BA in Public Policy from Princeton University and an M.Ed. from Fordham University. Previously, she worked in K-12 education as a teacher and as a school administrator, focusing on curriculum design, assessment, and the use of instructional data.

Pomirchy recently obtained his doctorate. in Politics from Princeton University, with concentrations in American Politics and Political Economy. His research focuses on accountability and representation in American politics. For example, one of his articles analyzes intra-party factions in the US Congress – such as the House Freedom Caucus and the Blue Dog Democrats – and argues that factions provide ways for lawmakers to signal their ideological alignment with their constituencies. In another project, he assesses whether individuals have more consistent ideological preferences on the issues that concern them.

As an ISPS postdoctoral fellow, Pomirchy studies how elections can improve future representation at subnational levels. In particular, using a natural experiment in state legislatures where the electoral calendar is randomized across districts, it seeks to analyze whether districts select more capable incumbents at election time.

At Princeton, Pomirchy was affiliated with the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics and the Program for Quantitative and Analytical Political Science. Before coming to Princeton, he earned an MA in Political Science and Political Economy from the London School of Economics and a BA in Political Science and Economics from California State University, Los Angeles.

In addition, four pre-doctoral fellows are participating in a new partnership between the Center for the Study of American Policy (CSAP) at ISPS and the Tobin Center for Economic Policy.

Amelia Malpas earned a bachelor’s degree in politics and geography at Mount Holyoke College and will work with political science professor Stanley B. Resor Jacob Hacker as a mentor on a research project on how local economic conditions—specifically the concentration of economic activity and Democratic voters in major metropolitan areas—affect elections and the political priorities of the two major political parties.

Ja’nae Jackson received her BS in Political Science from Texas Christian University. She will work with ISPS Resident Faculty Fellow Allison Harris as a mentor on two projects, including one on the relationship between characteristics of criminal trial judge colleagues and individual judge’s sentencing decisions. They will seek to understand whether the sentencing of judges becomes more or less fair as judges gain colleagues who are different from them.

Sydney White received her BA in Political Science from Swarthmore College and will work under the mentorship of Dean Acheson, Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs and Dean of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Kenneth Scheve. Their project will examine the consequences of economic concentration on the quality of democracy in the United States from 1870 to the present day, tracing in part the effects of antitrust law.

John Cho received his BA in Governmental and Quantitative Social Sciences from Dartmouth College. He will work with the director of the CSAP and the professor of political science of the Forst family Gregory Huber and Sterling Professor of Political Science Alain Gerber on understanding the trajectory of political careers. This project will seek to answer questions such as who is running and not running for office in the contemporary United States and how shifts in the pool of people seeking office help to understand patterns of political polarization and conflicts between elites.

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