Center for Effective Lawmaking

Center Affiliates

At the Center for Effective Lawmaking, we proudly support and highlight the work of our faculty affiliates, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate affiliates.
Below are the current affiliates of the CEL.

Faculty Affiliates

Claire Abernathy, Stockton University

Claire Abernathy is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stockton University in New Jersey. Her work focuses on how members of Congress develop their understanding of constituent opinion and how information about constituents’ preferences and priorities shapes their legislative work. In her current research, Claire examines constituent opinion in Congress as part of the Connecting to Congress research team at Ohio State University’s Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability—the Connecting to Congress project partners with congressional offices to host online deliberative town halls for members and their constituents and explores how members’ participation in these forums informs their representational behavior. In addition, Claire studies the consequences of the inadequate and outdated technology in use in Congress and the institutional barriers to improving it. Claire received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 2015.

Carlos Algara, University of Texas at El Paso

Dr. Carlos Algara is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at El Paso and was a 2019-2020 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow placed in the United States Senate. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 2019. His research agenda focuses on the nature of ideological representation in the United States, political parties, electoral accountability, legislative behavior, and what factors inform the policy preferences of the mass public. Dr. Algara’s research has been published in Electoral Studies, American Politics Research, Politics & Gender, and Social Network Analysis & Mining. His research has also been featured in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, National Public Radio, Texas Tribune, and the Sacramento Bee.

Andrew Clarke

Andrew Clarke, Lafayette College

Andrew Clarke is an Assistant Professor of Government & Law at Lafayette College. He studies legislative politics, with a focus on party factions in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prof. Clarke received a Ph.D. in Government from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Political Science from Bucknell University. He has published research articles on American political institutions and policy making in journals such as American Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Science Research and Methods, and the Journal of Public Policy.

Josh Clinton Vanderbilt

Josh Clinton, Vanderbilt University

Josh Clinton is the Abby and Jon Winkelried Chair and Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. His work uses statistical methods to better understand political processes and outcomes. His interests are wide-ranging and include: lawmaking in the U.S. Congress, campaigns and elections, political representation, public policy and the uses and abuses of statistical methods for understanding political phenomena. His research has recently appeared in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics among others. Josh is also an Editor-in-Chief of the Quarterly Journal of Political Science and he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University.

Laurel Hardbridge-Yong

Laurel Harbridge-Yong, Northwestern University

Laurel Harbridge-Yong is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. She received her PhD in 2009 from Stanford University. Her research explores a range of questions surrounding partisan conflict and the difficulty of reaching bipartisan agreements and legislative compromises in American politics. Her research spans projects on the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and the mass public. She is the author of two books – Is Bipartisanship Dead? Policy Agreement and Agenda-Setting in the House of Representatives (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Rejecting Compromise: Legislators’ Fear of Primary Voters (with Sarah Anderson and Daniel Butler, Cambridge University Press, 2020) – and numerous journal articles.

Justin Kirkland, University of Virginia

Justin Kirkland is an Associate Professor of Politics and Policy at the University of Virginia. He studies representation, legislative politics, and subnational politics, with a focus on how institutional design influences the quality of representation in the US. Prof. Kirkland received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, under the supervision of Thomas Carsey. He serves as the co-editor of Legislative Studies Quarterly. His research has appeared in journals like American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and The Journal of Politics.

Mary Kroeger, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mary Kroeger is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received her Ph.D. in Politics and Social Policy from Princeton University, and holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research interests are in U.S. state politics, American political institutions, bureaucratic-legislative interactions, policy diffusion, and quantitative methods. Her book project, entitled Outsourcing Legislation: How Non-Legislators Write U.S. State Law, studies the origins of laws that govern citizens, businesses, and bureaucrats within the U.S. states. Further, it asks under what conditions do non-legislative actors play a role in crafting statutory law? This work finds that interest groups, companies, think tanks, and unelected bureaucrats play a huge role in crafting the exact parameters and specific wording of the laws that govern their behaviors.

Tim LaPira

Tim LaPira, James Madison University

Tim LaPira (Ph.D., Rutgers University) is associate professor of political science at James Madison University in Virginia. His expertise is on Congress, interest groups, and lobbying. He is the principal investigator of the 2017 Congressional Capacity Survey and co-author of Revolving Door Lobbying: Public Service, Private Influence, and the Unequal Representation of Interests (University Press of Kansas, 2017). His work has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, The Dirksen Congressional Center, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center, and the Hewlett Foundation. He previously worked as a legislative assistant to a member of Congress and as a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, where he was responsible for developing the Lobbying and Revolving Door databases on

Jen Lawless

Jennifer Lawless, University of Virginia

Jennifer L. Lawless is the Commonwealth Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. Prior to joining the UVA faculty, she was a Professor of Government at American University and the Director of the Women & Politics Institute. Before that, she was an assistant and then associate professor at Brown. Jen’s research focuses on political ambition, campaigns and elections, and media and politics. She is the author or co-author of six books, including Women on the Run: Gender, Media, and Political Campaigns in a Polarized Era (with Danny Hayes) and It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office (with Richard L. Fox). Her research, which has been supported by the National Science Foundation, has appeared in numerous academic journals, and is regularly cited in the popular press. She is co-editor of the American Journal of Politics Science, and holds an appointment as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Jen graduated from Union College with a B.A. in political science, and Stanford University with an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science. In 2006, she sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in Rhode Island’s second congressional district. Although she lost the race, she remains an obsessive political junkie.

Geoff Lorenz

Geoff Lorenz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Geoffrey Lorenz is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His expertise is in the effectiveness of lobbying, advocacy, and other forms of policy entrepreneurship and how political institutions condition the ability of individual actors to advance their policy agendas. His research on these subjects has been published in the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, and Interest Groups & Advocacy. Geoff received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and was a postdoctoral fellow for the Center for Effective Lawmaking at the University of Virginia. Before entering academia, he worked as a professional lobbyist at the Texas State Legislature, representing clients in a wide range of substantive domains.

Kris Miler, University of Maryland

Kris Miler is an associate professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. Her work focuses on political representation in the U.S. Congress, especially the extent to which the interests of unorganized citizens and organized interests are represented in the lawmaking process. She is the author of Poor Representation: Congress and the Politics of Poverty (Cambridge University Press, 2018), which won the APSA Woodrow Wilson Award for the best book on government, politics, or international affairs. In this research, she demonstrates in multiple ways how Congress has failed to provide political representation to poor Americans, even in districts with high levels of poverty, leaving the poor to rely on surrogate representatives for a voice in Congress. She is also the author of Constituency Representation in Congress: The View from Capitol Hill (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which received the APSA Alan Rosenthal Award for research on questions of importance to legislators and their staff with potential to strengthen the practice of representative democracy. This book shows how cognitive biases cause legislators and their staff to see an incomplete picture of the constituents in their district, and reveals the impact of these perceptions on legislators’ behavior in the policymaking process. Professor Miler’s research has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as from organizations such as the Hewlett Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Dirksen Center. Her current research includes two collaborative, interdisciplinary projects: one examines cooperation and conflict in the U.S. House through the lens of organizational psychology, and the other uses computational linguistics to identify informal congressional networks and patterns of legislative behavior. Professor Miler has received multiple teaching awards and regularly teaches in the areas of legislative politics, interest groups, and social movements.

Minta Minta

Michael Minta, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Michael D. Minta is a professor in Political Science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is one of the country’s leading experts in the study of the political representation of African American, Latino, and women interests in the United States. His book, Oversight: Representing Black and Latino Interests in Congress is a valuable guide that scholars, political leaders, and the legal community consult when assessing whether diversity in legislatures improves responsiveness to minority interests. Currently, Dr. Minta is working on a new project that examines the legislative effectiveness of minority interest groups and their congressional allies.

Bruce Oppenheimer

Bruce Oppenheimer, Vanderbilt University

Bruce Oppenheimer is a Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He earned his B.A. from Tufts University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He has been an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and a Fellow in Governmental Studies and Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution. Professor Oppenheimer’s research focuses on Congress, congressional and presidential elections, and public policy. He has published numerous books and journal articles throughout his professional career. His co-authored book, Sizing Up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation, won the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library’s D.B. Hardeman Award as the best book on Congress. He is co-editor and contributor to the book, Congress Reconsidered, the eleventh edition of which was published in 2017. He has also written extensively on congressional struggles in developing energy policy over the past half century. In addition, he served as co-editor of Legislative Studies Quarterly.

Kathryn Pearson

Kathryn Pearson, University of Minnesota

Kathryn Pearson is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. She specializes in American politics; her research focuses on the United States Congress, women and politics, congressional elections, and political parties. Her research has recently appeared in The Journal of Politics, Perspectives on Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, and Politics & Gender, and she has published several book chapters. Her book titled Party Discipline in the House of Representatives was published in 2015 by the University of Michigan Press. It combines quantitative data analysis and interviews of key elites to examine party leaders' strategic use of their legislative prerogatives to reward loyal party members and punish defectors. It is an extension of her dissertation that won the APSA Legislative Studies Section's Carl Albert Award for the best doctoral dissertation in the area of legislative studies. She is working on a new book project, Gendered Partisanship in the House of Representatives, analyzing congresswomen's pursuit of power in a partisan era. Pearson is a recipient of the Morse Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. In 2002-03, Pearson was a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and from 1993 to 1998, she worked on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Assistant for two members of Congress. Professor Pearson received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Molly Reynolds

Molly Reynolds, Brookings Institution

Molly Reynolds is a fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. She studies Congress, with an emphasis on how congressional rules and procedure affect domestic policy outcomes. She is the author of the book, Exceptions to the Rule: The Politics of Filibuster Limitations in the U.S. Senate, which explores creation, use, and consequences of the budget reconciliation process and other procedures that prevent filibusters in the U.S. Senate. She also supervises the maintenance of Vital Statistics on Congress, Brookings’s long-running resource on the first branch of government. Reynolds received her Ph.D. in political science and public policy from the University of Michigan and her A.B. in government from Smith College, and previously served as a senior research coordinator in the Governance Studies program at Brookings. In addition, she has served as an instructor at George Mason University. In addition, she has served as an instructor at George Mason University and at Smith College.

Jason Roberts

Jason Roberts, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jason M. Roberts is professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research centers on American Political Institutions with a focus on legislative voting and parliamentary procedure in the U.S. Congress. He also works on congressional elections and the development of political institutions in the U.S.

Kelsey Shoub 2

Kelsey Shoub, University of South Carolina

Kelsey Shoub is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina and faculty affiliate of the Center for Effective Lawmaking. Professor Shoub's research and teaching interests span American Politics, Public Policy, and Methodology. Her work, more specifically, examine public policy process, race and policy, framing, and Congress using text analysis, machine learning, and big data. She is a co-author of Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Race and Policing (2018, Cambridge University Press), which is a co-winner of the 2019 Pritchett Book Award from the APSA Law and Courts Section.

Darrian Stacy 2021

Darrian Stacy, United States Naval Academy

Darrian Stacy is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy. He earned a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Georgia. He also earned a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on American Political Institutions, with an emphasis on legislative politics and policymaking as well as economic inequality within Congress.

Sean Theriault

Sean Theriault, University of Texas, Austin

Professor Theriault, who is fascinated by congressional decision-making, is currently researching the distinction between ideological and war-making behavior in the U.S. Congress. He has published five books — most recently, Congress: The First Branch (with Mickey Edwards) and The Great Broadening (with Bryan Jones and Michelle Whyman) — and dozens of articles on subjects ranging from party polarization in Congress to the Pendleton Act of 1883. Professor Theriault’s latest research explores the social fabric in the U.S. Senate. He examines if social connectedness in the Senate has consequences on both the health of the Senate and the legislative effectiveness of the senators. Professor Theriault, whose classes include the U.S. Congress, Congressional Elections, Party Polarization in the United States, and the Politics of the Catholic Church, is passionate about teaching. He has received numerous teaching awards, including the Friar Society Teaching Fellowship (the biggest undergraduate teaching award at UT) in 2009, UT Professor the Year in 2011, and the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award in 2014. In 2012, he was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He has experienced no greater honor than “officiating” at two weddings for former students.

Danielle Thomsen

Danielle Thomsen, University of California, Irvine

Danielle Thomsen is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. She was previously an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on American politics, the U.S. Congress, and gender and politics. She is the author of Opting Out of Congress: Partisan Polarization and the Decline of Moderate Candidates, which examines ideological changes in the candidates who run for Congress. Her articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Perspectives on Politics, and other outlets. Her current work explores fundraising patterns in U.S. House campaigns from 1980 to 2020.

Sarah Treul, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sarah Treul is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also serves as the Faculty Director for UNC’s Program for Public Discourse. She is the recipient of the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Chapman Family Teaching Award, and the Honors Carolina’s Manekin Award for Teaching Excellence. Her research interests are broadly in the area of American political institutions. Her research frequently focuses on how institutions affect decision-making - and more broadly- representation in the U.S. Congress. Her research agenda also examines the influence of primary elections on outcomes and behavior. Her most recent projects explore the role of previous political experience in aiding (or, in today’s climate sometimes harming) candidates’ success in congressional primaries and how primary candidates present themselves to their constituents. Other ongoing projects examine the minority party’s strategy in today’s polarized Congress and the role of member inexperience in decreasing legislative capacity in Congress. Treul also recently published a book on state delegations in Congress with Cambridge University Press.

Gerry Warburg

Gerry Warburg, University of Virginia

Gerry Warburg teaches courses at the Batten School on Congress, U.S. foreign policy and advocacy strategies. He is the lead faculty member in the Batten School massive open online course (MOOC) “Public Policy Challenges of the 21st Century,” which is available on Coursera. His research interests include the study of best practices by non-governmental organizations and the evolution of U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policies. Warburg’s professional background encompasses a broad array of public service. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President of Cassidy & Associates, a leading government relations firm. Prior to that position, he worked as a legislative assistant for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives under Senate Whip Alan Cranston and Representative Jonathan Bingham. His stints teaching include Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication, the Brookings Institution and his alma maters of Stanford University and Hampshire College.

Hye Young You

Hye Young You, New York University

Hye Young You is Assistant Professor at the Wilf Family Department of Politics at New York University. Her primary research interest focuses on how organized interests and money influence democratic representation in the US, at both the national and local levels. In particular, her research explores the mechanism behind the lobbying process and sheds light on organized interest groups that play crucial roles in the political process, but have been understudied such as local governments and foreign interests. She is also interested in public finance and the quality of government services at municipal governments in the US. She received her PhD in political economy and government from Harvard University in 2014.

Post-Doctoral Affiliates

Erinn Lauterbach (1)

Erinn Lauterbach, University of Virginia

Erinn Lauterbach is a PostDoctoral Fellow for the Center for Effective Lawmaking at the University of Virginia. She specializes in American politics and representation; her research focuses on legislator behavior in the United States Congress, women in politics, and the impact of separation of powers on policymaking. Prior to joining the Center, Erinn completed her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. She is also a graduate of Central College and, prior to pursuing graduate school, she worked as both a Scheduler and Legislative Aide for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Peter Bucchianeri

Peter Bucchianeri, Vanderbilt University

Peter Bucchianeri is a PostDoctoral Fellow for the Center for Effective Lawmaking at Vanderbilt University. His expertise is in American politics, primarily in the areas of state and local government, legislative institutions, and representation. Prior to joining the Center, Peter completed his Ph.D in Government and Social Policy at Harvard University. He is a graduate of UCLA and the University of Pennslyvania.

Graduate Affiliates

Mackenzie Dobson, University of Virginia

Mackenzie Dobson is a doctoral student at the University of Virginia, and holds a M.A. and B.S. in Political Science from Appalachian State University. Her research interests consist of American legislative institutions, legislative effectiveness, and public policy.

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