Florida State University

Political Science

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Job Candidates

The following FSU graduate students are currently seeking academic positions:

American Politics

David Macdonald (Ph.D. expected January 2020)
Curriculum Vitae

I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science at Florida State University. My research is broadly in the area of American politics, public opinion, and political behavior. My dissertation examines why American public opinion has failed to shift in favor of redistribution despite decades of high, and rising economic inequality. I am also interested in studying the causes and consequences of public attitudes toward immigration and race, public opinion toward government spending in an era of economic inequality, as well as the political consequences of low, and declining labor union membership. I have solo-authored work that has been published in Political Behavior, Political Research Quarterly, and Social Science Quarterly and a forthcoming paper at the British Journal of Political Science. I also have several others that are currently are under review. I have taught multiple courses at the undergraduate level, including Race, Ethnicity, & Politics, Political Parties & Campaigning, Public Opinion & Electoral Behavior, and Introduction to American Government.

Dissertation Committee: Brad Gomez (chair), Matthew Pietryka, Robert Jackson.

Jessica Parsons (Ph.D. May 2020)
Curriculum Vitae

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Florida State University. I will finish my dissertation this academic year and graduate in May 2020. My research focuses on the behavior and preferences of political elites and the representation of disadvantaged groups. 

My dissertation research focuses on the timely issue of political bias in America’s universities. I conduct three field experiments to examine whether university administrators are biased against conservative students and in favor of liberal students. Utilizing large-N experimental designs, I randomly assign university administrators to receive a request from a politically liberal student, a politically conservative student, or a student whose ideology is unspecified, requesting help with either forming a new political student organization, securing campus space for a guest speaker to lecture on political issues, or publishing a political editorial in the student newspaper. By comparing the rates of response across experimental conditions, I will provide high-quality evidence on the hypothesis, widely espoused in popular media, that conservative students face systematic discrimination in higher education. The results of the first experiment show no statistically significant difference in the responsiveness of university administrators to requests about establishing a new political student organization for liberal and conservative students. It thus appears that, with respect to starting new political student groups, the alleged bias against conservative students in higher education may be more myth than reality. These findings will contribute not only to my subfield and to the discipline, but to a long-standing, vigorous, and spirited national conversation.

Dissertation Committee: Brad Gomez (chair), Doug Ahler, and Hans Hassell.

International Relations

Richard Saunders (Ph.D. expected August 2020)
Curriculum Vitae

My dissertation applies a behavioral perspective to explain international conflict processes including onset of international rivalry, dispute resolution between rivals and the timing of war and other violent episodes between parties to ongoing disputes. The first major chapter is complete and under review, while the second chapter is a complete draft. Chapter 1 draws on Prospect Theory to explain how major domestic political changes such as revolution in one state lead to the breakdown of friendly relations between that state and others into enmity.  Chapter 2 explains how major changes to the institutional structure of a state, such as regime change, effect dispute resolution efforts between long-lasting rivals. Finally, chapter 3 will explore how changes in the domestic politics of a state effect the timing of violent episodes between states engaged in ongoing disputes.

Other projects: My second project centers around military air power.  We seek to explain the determinants of air power as well as the effects of air power on the conduct and outcomes of military operations.  The first paper in this project “Command of the Skies: An Air Power Dataset” (with Mark Souva) was published in Conflict Management and Peace Sciencein July.  We are working on a follow up paper now and intend to have it under review in the early fall. 

Dissertation Committee: Inken von Borzyskowski, Sean Ehrlich, Mark Souva (Chair).

Comparative Politics

Jordan Holsinger (Ph.D. expected Spring 2020)
Curriculum Vitae

Jordan Holsinger is a PhD candidate who studies NGOs, Latin America, courts, and repression. Prior work in the NGO sector in Latin America informs his research interests.  His dissertation asks how regimes negotiate the tradeoff between NGOs providing goods and NGOs strengthening civil society. He uses a signaling model that highlights different NGO types and the information asymmetry between NGOs and regimes. NGOs wish to execute their goals and regimes that try to avoid risky or problematic NGOs. He tests predictions from the model with a quasi-experimental dataset from Nicaragua. He employs a natural experiment design to show that increased regime sensitivity to NGO costs encourages NGOs to adjust their activities in ways that reduce their negative externalities and bolster authoritarian consolidation. Other projects of his include a book manuscript, Can Courts be Bulwarks of Democracy?, (with Jeffrey Staton and Christopher Reenock), which shows how judiciaries incentivize elites to engage in forbearance. This project leverages new data, including an update of Latent Judicial Independence (Holsinger, J., D.A. Linzer, C.M. Reenock and J.K. Staton (2017). Judicial Independence Dataset, 1948- 2015. Emory University). The working project Missing Tools from the Repression Toolbox (with Kimberly Frugé) explains state repression through institutional variation at the subnational level in Mexico. Different institutional arrangements empower constituents with varying abilities to hold politicians accountable for repression and executives respond in kind with repression tactics that maximize control and minimize consequences of electoral accountability.

Dissertation Committee: Christopher Reenock (Chair), Amanda Driscoll, Kai Ou and Rob Carroll.

Katelyn Hess (Katie) (Ph.D. Summer 2021)
Curriculum Vitae

I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Florida State University and expect to complete my degree requirements by June 2021. My research interests lie in the field of comparative politics and focus on the political economy of authoritarian regimes. In particular, I study business-state relations, corruption, and the rule of law with a geographic focus on Russia and the former Soviet Union. Methodologically, I am interested in using causal inference techniques. to better understand these topics. My dissertation looks at judicial behavior in property rights institutions in Russia, focusing on the process of judicial selection and its consequences for judicial decision-making and judicial evaluation. In Chapter 1, I argue that autocrats are more likely to appoint loyal candidates who can be relied on to rule cases in favor of the state. I further contend that whether a candidate is considered to be loyal is dependent on their susceptibility to political pressure, with judges coming from the public sector (e.g. court apparatus, prosecutor’s office, or investigative services) being especially vulnerable due to their lack of employment options outside of the state. In Chapters 2-4, I test the implications of this theory using original data on the career paths of judges and more than 200,000 court cases spanning the last decade. In Chapter 2, I examine decision-making in the district arbitration courts using the random assignment of cases to judges. In Chapter 3, I look at the evaluations of these decisions in the appellate arbitration courts, relying on the random assignment of cases to panels. Finally, in Chapter 4, I explore decision-making in the district criminal courts, this time focusing on the severity of sentencing decisions rather than case outcomes. This project has been supported through research grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York through the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, as well as the Hilton Center for Economic Prosperity and Individual Opportunity at Florida State University.

Dissertation Committee: Holger Kern (Co-Chair), Quintin Beazer (Co-Chair), Amanda Driscoll, and Shawn Kantor (Economics).

Anastasiia Vlasenko (Ph.D. expected Fall 2021)
Curriculum Vitae

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Florida State University and a visiting researcher at Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. I expect to defend my dissertation by Fall 2021. I study authoritarian politics and democratization with specialization in politics of Ukraine and Russia. My research focuses on transitional period reforms, propaganda, legislative politics, and elections. At FSU, I teach courses on comparative politics, statistics, and post-Soviet studies.

My dissertation examines the effect of legislative networks on corruption and political survival in Ukraine. Chapter 1 investigates how legislative networks affect the proliferation of corruption. I argue that well-connected legislators get more rent returns to office than their less connected peers due to the higher efficiency that attracts potential bribe-paying clients. Chapter 2 analyzes the impact of legislators’ clientelistic and patronage-ridden connections on their prospects of reelection under the conditions of weak democratic institutions. Chapter 3 studies the electoral effects of institutional reforms (decentralization) at national and local levels. This project has been supported through Helen Darcovich Memorial Doctoral Fellowship at Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies and Dissertation Research Grant at Florida State University.

Other projects: My second project focuses on the electoral effects of symbolic politics. In the paper “The Real Consequences of Symbolic Politics: Breaking the Soviet Past in Ukraine” (with Arturas Rozenas), which is currently under review, we show that the removals of the Soviet symbols in Ukraine mobilized supporters for parties with a relatively sympathetic view of Soviet past, creating a backlash effect. I am also working on co-authored projects analyzing the electoral effects of Russian Orthodox Church expansion (with Katie Hess), forecasting German federal election 2021 (with Mark Kayser and Arndt Leininger), and investigating the effect of religious competition in Ukraine on local elections (with Tymofii Brik).

Dissertation Committee: Quintin Beazer (Chair), Holger Kern, and Amanda Driscoll.