Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz (Ph.D. Expected 2015)
 Curriculum Vitae
Website: http://aleksksiazkiewicz.com/

Aleks studies American politics with a primary focus on how biological and other unconscious processes influence political behavior. His research encompasses core political psychology questions, such as the origins and functioning of political ideology, and addresses these topics by integrating methods and theories drawn from behavioral genetic and implicit social cognition research. Funded by a Rice University Social Sciences Research Institute grant, his dissertation addresses the role of genes in political ideology using a survey of 1192 twins. The dissertation demonstrates that a major contributor to ideological stability is the consistent effect of genes on political attitudes over time. It also identifies a previously unknown path from genes to political ideology via cognitive style.

Aleks also has several other lines of research, including genetic effects on religiosity and politics, genetic effects on political participation, implicit candidate traits and vote choice, implicit racial attitudes and elections, implicit political knowledge, executive function and ideology, and cognitive style and political media consumption. These studies use multiple research designs (large-N correlational studies, experiments, twin studies), various measurement techniques (surveys, priming, latency-based measures), and diverse samples (student in lab, non-student by mail, online via Amazon Mechanical Turk).

Aleks has been an instructor of Introduction to Political Science five times at a local community college and has guest lectured in the Biological Foundations of Politics seminar at Rice University.

Dissertation Committee: John Alford (chair), Rick Wilson, Randy Stevenson, Randi Martin (psychology), Robert Krueger (University of Minnesota psychology)

Marvin R. McNeese Jr. (Ph.D. Expected 2014)
Curriculum Vitae
Website: http://mcneese.rice.edu/

Marvin’s research interests include American politics, especially interest group activity across national and subnational political institutions.  His dissertation focuses on the relative advantages provided to policy advocates by political venues—the institutional settings where policy decisions are made.  Building on Baumgartner and Jones’ punctuated equilibrium theory, he tests whether where policy is made has an independent effect on likelihood of policy adoption.  Punctuated equilibrium theory suggests that a change in policy requires an advocate to move decision-making to a new venue that is most advantageous to the advocate’s position. Marvin’s research seeks to explain the venue choices policy advocates make, whether those choices affect policy outcomes, and whether policy consensus among advocates is necessary for advancing policy change.   He tests hypotheses with a re-analysis of Baumgartner et al. (2009) Lobbying and Policy Change data set.  He also collects original data on the issue of hydraulic fracturing for testing his consensus hypothesis, which involved a machine aided content analysis of 20 national and regional newspapers’ coverage of hydraulic fracturing between 2008-2013.  He has taught American politics courses as well as an undergraduate statistics and research design course.  He also maintains an interest in Latin American politics, having researched the Afro-Brazilian Political Movement (for Civil Rights) through his Masters program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dissertation Committee: Robert Stein (Chair), Keith Hamm, John Alford, and Doug Schuler


Naoko Matsumura (Ph.D. Expected 2015)
Curriculum Vita 
Website: http://nmatsumura.com/

Naoko’s primary area of research is the quantitative study of International Relations with focuses on international organizations, international cooperation, and domestic origins of foreign policy changes. Her dissertation, “The Effects of Foreign Audiences in International Dispute Settlements,” explores the question of why international actors use international organizations (IOs) to settle their disputes when such institutions often do not have enforcement power of their own. She approaches this question by looking at domestic and international sources of IO enforcement. She argues that international actors use IOs to transmit information to foreign audiences who are expected to help promote a state’s compliance with international obligations. She empirically tests theoretical implications from her argument with data on international actors’ uses of dispute settlement mechanisms in two issue areas: trade and foreign investment. Her dissertation project is supported by a Rice SSRI Dissertation Improvement Grant. Naoko’s other projects focus on the institutional designs of IOs and their effects on international cooperation.  Naoko is going to serve as an instructor at Rice University in Fall 2014, teaching the course “International Organization.”  

Dissertation Committee: Brett Ashley Leeds (Chair), T. Clifton Morgan, Songying Fang, and Richard Boylan (Economics)