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James research interests focus primarily on state and local public policy, urban politics, immigration and political psychology. He is primarily interested in how and why different jurisdictions adopt particular policies and how those policies affect political behavior. His dissertation, “Welcoming the Huddled Masses – The Immigration Policies of Subnational Governments” examines why states adopt policies that provide policy benefits to immigrants, both legal and illegal. This analysis is the first broad-based look at the immigration policies of states and cities and examines the far great prevalence of pro-immigrant policies than would commonly be believed. In addition to his dissertation, James is interested in the application of psychological theories and methods, particularly implicit attitudes, to the study of political science. For the last two years, he has co-organized an Implicit Working Group at APSA and is co-editing a symposium in PS: Political Science on implicit associations (forthcoming in April 2013). He also recently received a grant from the Rice Social Science Research Institute to continue his experimental research on implicit attitudes.
In addition to his research interests, James has been active in both teaching and service to the academy. Recently, he chaired the 4th Annual Texas Political Science Graduate Student Conference in Houston, TX. Over 30 graduate students from around the state presented their research in a variety of panels covering the breadth of the discipline. Finally, James is an experienced and dedicated teacher, having spent several years teaching government at Houston Community College (HCC) and presenting research on student achievement at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference. He also recently received a Teaching Workshop Certification from Rice’s Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies. James currently lives with his wife in Washington, DC where he tries to avoid being drawn into political conversations, for the good of all involved.
Dissertation Committee: Melissa Marschall (Chair) Bob Stein, Keith Hamm, Douglas Schuler (Rice Business School)
Renita Miller (Ph.D. 2013)
Renita’s research interests are in the areas of political representation, race and ethnic politics, state politics, and education policy. Renita is broadly interested in understanding the impact of diversity on political deliberations and the policy making process. Her dissertation, “Minority Voices: The Representational Roles of African Americans and Latinos during State Legislative Deliberations” systematically examines African-American and Latino legislator behavior. The project specifically examines whether and how minority legislators represent and influence African American and Latino policy interests during the legislative process. She performs an analysis of minority legislator participation rates on bills and develops an original measure of substantive representation using patterns of legislative speech to analyze state representatives’ language during committee hearings.
Dissertation Committee: Keith Hamm (Chair), Melissa Marschall, Mark Jones, Alexander Byrd (Rice University-History Department), and Ken J. Meier (Texas A&M University)
Eichorst’s research focuses on themes of comparative legislative behavior, forms of political representation, political party organization, and political methodology (including, automated content analysis), with a regional focus on Latin America. His dissertation develops and tests a contextual theory of political representation in legislatures using automated content analysis of legislative deliberations. Along with elite interviews and archival data collected from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, the project uses this new measure to test the effects of three political factors---the extent of party control, the type of party, and the extra-legislative institutional environment---to identify the conditional link between descriptive representation and legislative behavior. His research is supported by a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement grant and the Rice University Ora N. Arnold Fellowship for Latin American Research. Eichorst has several other projects dealing with comparative political institutions, one of which is forthcoming at Legislative Studies Quarterly and another invited for resubmission. He is currently Editorial Assistant at AJPS.
Dissertation Committee: Lanny W. Martin (Chair), Royce Carroll, Mark P. Jones and Ron Soligo (Economics)
William Craig Meddaugh (Ph.D. Expected 2013)
Craig’s research interests are comparative legislative behavior, computer assisted content analysis, political factions, economic voting, and the role of the media in influencing public opinion. His dissertation, “MP Ideal Points, Party Factions, and the Dynamics of Majority Governments” (funded by multiple grants, including a NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant), proposes a method by which previously difficult to obtain legislative ideal points can be estimated by deploying computer-assisted content analysis on large databases of political speech. These ideal points are then used to identify informal party factions and explore the role that legislator preferences and policy factions play in the dynamics of majority governments. Craig is especially interested in the role that preferences and factions play in the allocation of ministerial portfolios, committee assignments, and leadership roles within a party. Additionally, he examines how plenary debates act as a means to relieve intraparty tension and how cabinet reshuffles reflect the changing preferences of a party’s legislative contingent. In addition to his dissertation, Craig is involved in several collaborative projects exploring the role of the media in influencing economic perceptions in multiple European nations. Additionally, he is working with the authors of the British Election Survey to examine the role that the media played in influencing political opinion at the individual and the aggregate level in the run-up to the 2010 British Election. By using computer-assisted content analysis, a unique dataset of the day-to-day media coverage of the election is being constructed in order to test whether shifting media coverage results in shifting voter intentions. Craig is currently serving as an instructor at Rice University, teaching the course “Introduction to Statistics.”
Dissertation Committee: Randolph T. Stevenson (chair), Lanny W. Martin, and Royce Carroll.