I am an associate professor in Political Science, affiliate faculty member in the School of Public Policy, and the incoming (starting July 2017) director of the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program. I joined UMBC in 2008, after a job at another local university. I earned a Ph.D. in Government and Politics and a Master’s in public management and policy from the University of Maryland College Park, and a Bachelor’s in Government from Notre Dame. My research and teaching interests include American politics, public policy, and research methods. I proudly hail from Baltimore. My hobbies include fitness, football, and family.
Q: What led you to become a political scientist?
A: The seeds were planted early in grade school. During dinner, my mom would sometimes read to my family stories of people’s suffering from mailings she received from charities, and the television was also often tuned to the evening news. I paid attention. Concern about certain social problems I was exposed to then stuck with me and motivated me to want to help find solutions. This drove me to learn more about and become involved with politics and policy.
Q: What kinds of research questions are most interesting to you?
A: I am interested in the efficacy of different strategies for solving social problems. I am also interested in how features of the political environment affect the kinds of approaches people use to pursue change. One of these features is ideological polarization, which has inspired questions for me about how people whose issue positions are not consistently liberal or conservative participate in politics and policymaking.
Q: What ideas, skills, or experiences do you hope students will come away with after having taken a class with you?
A: I hope they will leave with minds primed to analyze and critically evaluate the actions and claims of political actors . . . with a clearer understanding of why political actors behave as they do . . . and with ideas about how to tackle problems they care about. I also hope they will emerge with a stronger skill set in research, communication, and analysis than they came in with, and greater discipline when it comes to completing work with excellence.
Q: What can POLI majors do with their degrees?
A: Lots . . . . because more important and more marketable than the substantive information majors gain about politics is a versatile skill set in research, communication, analysis, and problem-solving that I believe students most effectively develop when studying something that greatly interests them. That said, many of the students I know best – especially those I have worked with as coordinator of the department’s Policy, Politics, and Public Administration Internship Program – have found jobs in politics and policy as legislative and campaign staffers, employees of advocacy groups, and (especially but not necessarily after completing a Master’s) analysts for government agencies.