Junior Fellows

The Junior Fellows Program provides meaningful research experience, insight into the profession of Political Science, and the ability to work closely with a faculty member or an advanced (ABD) graduate student in their current research project. The program is designed for advanced juniors and seniors wishing to gain the experience that will prepare them to succeed in their senior thesis work and/or stand out as they apply for research opportunities and advanced degrees. Junior Fellows will have a hands-on experience with the innovative research performed at the Department of Political Science and gain valuable professional insight by working closely with their supervisor on a weekly-basis, attending a seminar series exploring the diversity of methods and approaches, and participating in a capstone research presentation workshop.

Students register for POS4911 and receive credit as outlined in the Program Overview.

Please direct any questions to Stephanie Denardo, program director, via email or in-person during her office hours.

Matching Junior Fellows with Faculty and Advanced Graduate Students

The Junior Fellows program is highly competitive. The Program Director will assign Junior Fellows according to Faculty nominations and the needs of the projects, but not all projects or Junior Fellows are guaranteed to be matched unless nominated directly by a faculty member. Faculty and advanced graduate students (ABD) are encouraged to identify and recruit prospective Junior Fellows from their own classroom experiences, or voice their interest in working with a Junior Fellow from the open pool of applicants by providing the Program Director the open pool request. Junior Fellow applicants from the open pool will be chosen and assigned based on merit and fit with the research projects available that semester. Prospective Junior Fellows should apply to the program directly by following the guidance contained in the program documents.

Program Deadlines:

April 15th for the following Fall semester
November 15th for the following Spring semester

Ongoing Faculty/ABD Research Projects Available

Prof. Austin is working on the second edition of her book, The Transformation of Plantation Politics: Black Politics, Concentrated Poverty, and Social Capital in the Mississippi Delta.  While African Americans now hold most of the major political offices in the region and are no longer formally excluded from political participation, educational opportunities, or lucrative jobs, Wright Austin shows that white wealth and black poverty continue to be the norm partly because of the deeply entrenched legacies of the Delta’s history. Contributing to a greater theoretical understanding of black political efforts, this book demonstrates a need for a strong level of black social capital, intergroup capital, financial capital, political capital, and a human capital of educated and skilled workers.

Prof. Hozic will be finishing her book on illicit trade, state and crimes in the Balkans. She particularly encourages applications from students with the knowledge of Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), Albanian and/or German. At the same time, she could also use assistance on a new project about art and power in international politics and some editorial help with on-going projects.

Prof. Klein is both finishing up a book project and beginning new research on the relationship between democratic norms and ideals and economic governance. The book project examines the relationship between the modern welfare state and broader structures of domination in society, such as class and gender relationships. The new project will examine the politics of economic governance–such as central banking and the regulation of credit, debt, and finance-from the perspective of democratic theory. It will examine the current justifications for shielding those decisions from democratic accountability as well as potential alternative ways of organizing economic decision-making.

Prof. Kreppel: From Conductor to Orchestra Member: the Evolution of the Council of the European Union

The Council of the EU (formerly the Council of Ministers) has been at the center of EU decision-making since the earliest days of the European Economic Community. However, the exact nature of its central role has changed dramatically as the EU has evolved. In particular its core function within the EU’s institutional structure has shifted from a nearly autocratic executive tasked with both agenda-setting and decision making to one chamber in a largely symmetrical bicameral legislature with shared decision making and only limited agenda setting capacity. This evolution is less well understood than the development of other key EU institutions, such as the European Parliament – which has been very well studied, in part because the transformation has been gradual and informal. In addition, the shift toward a primarily executive function evolved as the result of the addition, and increasing formalization, of a different institution, the European Council. The tendency to merge these two institutions (often generically-and incorrectly-referred to as the Council) derives from the fact that both consist of members drawn from the national executives of the member states. The confusion was facilitated by the very vague language of the treaties themselves, which until the 2009 Lisbon Treaty failed to effectively and definitively differentiate between these two institutions, despite their increasingly disparate roles in the EU policy process.

This research examines this transformation through a detailed analysis of the texts of the treaties themselves, as well as additional supplemental materials (archival documents, older academic articles and textbooks, etc.). The first stage of the research is the compilation of a detailed spread sheet containing all treaty references to the Council of Ministers, the Council and the European Council to track their formal institutional development and tasks from the European Coal and Steel Community through the most recent Lisbon Treaty. In addition we will collect references to and depictions of the Council (of Ministers) from other primary sources, academic articles and a selection of secondary sources to track how our understanding of the Council has evolved over time.

The goal of this research to present a detailed history of the evolution of this central institution within the political system to allow for a more comprehensive understanding of both the development of the EU and the character of its political system today.

Prof. Daniel Smith is conducting research on voting and elections in the American states, particularly how election laws affect political participation and turnout in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Ohio. He is seeking students interested in learning how to collect data on state election codes, to make public records requests for data on early voting and absentee ballots, and to analyze observational data.  Students with language skills (especially Spanish and Creole), big data (STATA/R/SQL), and GIS (ArcGIS) are especially encouraged to apply.  Students meet weekly as a team with Professor Smith. Previous Junior Fellows have coauthored papers/articles/book chapters with Dr. Smith.

Prof. McDonald is conducting research on voting and elections in the American states, particularly how election laws affect political participation and turnout in Florida and other states. He is seeking students interested in learning how to collect data on state election codes, to make public records requests for data on early voting and absentee ballots, and to analyze observational data.  Students with big data (SQL/Access), and GIS (ArcGIS) skills are especially encouraged to apply.  Students meet weekly as a team with Professor McDonald.

Prof. Martinez is currently working with his Junior Fellow on a project that simulates voter wait lines under varying conditions to show the distributions of voter wait times, with a focus on the effect of adding a single station at peak arrival times on reducing voter wait times, to estimate the effects that these allocations of resources might make on voter turnout. The 2012 presidential election showed, once again, that many voters endured very long lines to cast their ballots, but the existing literature also suggests that long wait times can be a significant disincentive for some citizens to cast a ballot. While most studies of electoral turnout focus the effects of political institutions, mobilization, electoral laws, and individuals’ predispositions, scholars are also beginning to examine election logistics that can affect voter wait times. They propose to extend that literature by discussing the standard application of queueing theory in mathematics modeling to voting wait times to predict wait times in a variety of settings such as retail stores, movement of traffic, telephone exchanges, internet traffic, and hospital emergency rooms. Based on predetermined parameters, queueing theory predicts distributions of wait times that enable managers to best allocate their labor and technical resources to achieve optimal service for shoppers, patients, and in our case, voters.

Prof. Rosenson’s research focuses on media coverage of public officials, media bias, conflicts of interest and corruption in the U.S. Current projects include a study of “gaffe” coverage in presidential campaigns, an analysis of changing newspaper endorsements of candidates, and an examination of presidential nepotism in historical perspective.

Prof. Sjoberg is currently working on a project on gender and civilian victimization in war.

Prof. Sohn‘s current projects include (1) human rights and civil society in Israel; (2) Palestinian and Jewish women’s coexistence groups in Israel; and (3) religion and politics cross-nationally (e.g., internationally). All of these projects fall within historical institutionalism in Comparative Politics and tend to be historically-, contextually-, and qualitatively-oriented. If you are interested in this type of research and in one of these topics, please feel free to contact her at pjsohn@ufl.edu!

Prof. Robbins works in American Politics.  Her research concerns the coordination and effectiveness of money in federal elections.  In the big picture, I’m examining the ways in which networks of big-money groups (a.k.a. SuperPACs) can subsidize the elections of otherwise marginal candidates.  More specifically, the two projects I’m currently focused on involve consultants and networks (concentrated interests).

Interest group scholars have noted that concentrated interests are more influential than diffuse ones. Moreover, James Q. Wilson argued that that group political influence is greatest where both costs and benefits are most concentrated. While much past research has focused on the role of money in policy making, money contributed to or spent on behalf of candidates has a more immediate goal influencing electoral outcomes. Since the return of big money in American federal elections, it is possible for outside organizations to have an outsized influence in electoral politics. In one project, I examine outside groups (SuperPACs in particular) and their success records in federal elections. In particularly, I focus on how groups differ in their spending concentrating on a few, easy targets (i.e., competitive open seats), or spending more broadly across candidates. I also examine the effectiveness of these organizations from a social network perspective, controlling for the extent to which networked groups are concentrating their efforts in similar races.

The second project focuses more explicitly on campaign finance law surrounding Independent Expenditures.  Independent expenditures directed at US congressional candidates have increased from a little over 300 thousand dollars in 1978 to nearly 675 million dollars in 2014.  While the increases pre-date the “birth” of SuperPAC and non-profit spending, they are most dramatic from 2010 to present. By law, these expenditures are made without consulting, cooperating with, or at the suggestion of, the candidate.  Still, implicit coordination can exist, as late night comedians Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert parodied.  Moreover, candidates, parties and other political committees can hire the same consulting firms, though firewalls theoretically exist across clients. In this project, I examine political committee spending from 2010-2014, using Social Network Analysis. Because this is a relatively unexamined area of systematic research, examining the empirical networks that exist should help illuminate the potential for implicit coordination and the need for further policy study.

Amanda B Edgell is a PhD candidate. Her research is as follows: Women’s representation in legislatures worldwide increased from just 9% in 1989 to nearly 24% in 2017. This dramatic increase in female lawmakers is often attributed to the advent of legislative gender quotas. Over seventy countries now have laws requiring minimum thresholds for women’s representation. Generally speaking, scholars and policymakers alike would consider this a sign of democratic progress. Therefore, we might consider gender quotas inherently democratic in principle: they advance equality, reduce biases in the electoral environment, and produce a more descriptively representative legislative branch. However, these policies are surprisingly common in nondemocratic countries. At the end of 2015, roughly 70% of countries with gender quota laws rated as either Not Free or Partly Free on the annual Freedom House Index. Why are gender quotas common among authoritarian regimes? How do these policies affect everyday politics under authoritarianism? To answer these two questions, this research draws upon case study evidence from Uganda and Kenya, and a new dataset tracking gender quotas in 200 countries from 1974 to 2015. I argue that while leaders may sometimes adopt gender quotas to serve the authoritarian regime, these policies need not be branded as “authoritarian institutions”. Rather, we should think about them as among a suite of institutions under authoritarianism, flawed but also holding the potential to produce liberalizing outcomes. Evidence from interviews, election results, and legislative debates in Uganda and Kenya suggests that gender quotas play a varied role in non-democracies – with the potential to simultaneously support authoritarian incumbents, while also promoting gender equality in the political sphere.

Saskia van Wees is a PhD student.  Her research is as follows: As norms on environmental governance emerge, it has become apparent that some states are more sensitive to criticism regarding their management of environmental problems than are others. So what explains various states’ diverging reactions to normative pressure? I argue that constructions of state identity—in addition to traditional material factors like state capacity, economic interest, etc.—play a central role in determining why some status-seeking states are more or less responsive to normative criticism related to environmental governance. To this end, I utilize a large-N data set and structured case studies of India and China to examine how status-seeking states respond to dominant norms of environmental governance.


* Please feel free to contact the individuals listed above and browse the faculty departmental webpages to get further information about the ongoing research

Current Junior Fellows (Fall 2017)

Joseph Gonzalez
Jasmine Myers
Cassandra Allen
Kathryn Mellinger
Alexa Gerbert
Jordan Rosa
Shereen Al Shalabi
Mary Anne O’Neill
Alexis Rossetti
Adam Clark
Dillon Boatner
Manuela Osorio

These stellar students represent:

  • Wide range of campus leadership positions and public service
  • Internships in State Representative and US Senator offices
  • Multiple honors societies
  • Seven languages and four regional specializations
  • Proficiency in various statistical programs
  • Most of them are looking to attend graduate school in Political Science or a closely-related MA field of specialization. They will be working closely with Professors Sjoberg, Smith, Kreppel, Selden, Bernhard, Rosenson, Hozic, Moraski, Scicchitano and some advanced (ABD) Graduate Students.

Previous Junior Fellows

Spring 2017:

Ena Barisic, Eduardo Santana, Heather McGuire, Max Klein, Pedro Perez, Benjamin Clark, Sarah Pattison, Juna Lee, Sara Shayanian, Caitlin Ostroff, Christian Tirado, Andrea Miranda, Laura Uribe

Fall 2016:

Rachel Reh, Kasey Joyce, Jack Stephens, Catalina Del Valle, Pedro Otalora, Hunter Carrell, Lillian Rozsa, Israel Ojaluo, Joseph Flick, Jessica Valdes, Jeshow Yang

Spring 2015:

Christine Thomas, Joselin Padron-Rasines, Alex Cenatus, Andy Garcia, Juan Tibaduiza, Evan Cartagena, Samora Ashley Bazel, Rachel Reiss, David Ponoroff, Christina Faliero, Yarden Kakon, Anthony Reyes, Gonzalo Izquierdo, Logan Abbott, Monica Eichner, Juliette Haulthaus, Hannah Kaufman, Spencer Cokely, Kelsey Landau

Fall 2014:

Igal Rojzman, Lindsay Abbott, Melissa Hill, Janzen Harding, Casey St. Claire, Alexander Schechner, Bianca Feazell, Stephanie Quintao, Jasmine Hayes, Adam Gerstenfeld, Katherine Burnett, Kevin Rossi, Alyson Samach, Sabrina Marasa, Richard Benitez, Grace Kranstover, Gustavo Lemaitre, Micole Kaye

Spring 2014:

Kate Heffernan, Samantha Ragonesi, Deniss Kaskurs, Slaviana Stefanova, Samantha Lewis, Frances Chapman, Christian Pierre Canel, Brittany Serrano, Savannah Pellegrino, Shamica Shim, Shruti Shah

Fall 2013:

Melanie Miller, Corrado Minardi, Alenandra Chopenko, Sami Alsawaf, Joshua Krusell, Ana Medina, Michelle Asuncion, Devin Barrett, Garrett Dodd, Jason McKibben

Spring 2013:

Victoria Dokken, Noah Smith, Christian Chessman, Rachel McDonald, Natalie Yello, Jose Perez, Eliona Jankulla, Daniel Sibol, Alexandra Dehelean, Andrea Powell, Kimberly Greenplate, Dillon Clancy, Jacquelyn Johnson.

Fall 2012:

Laura Daley, Marielena Dias, Bryce Freeman, Alexandra Hoffman, Naveed Jazayeri, Alexa Lipke, Adriana Madrazo, Joshua Vadeboncoeur, Robert Wilson.

JF Updates:

Joselin Padron-Rasines elected to UF Student Body President

Alexandra Cenatus interned with the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Elections Commission) in Haiti during Summer 2015, working on voter information, candidate platforms, and election procedures in the lead up to the 2015 national elections.

Christian Chessman is currently attending UF Law, volunteering at the Rape Crisis Center as a hotline clinician, and working on the statewide Florida Association for Women Lawyers Journal Committee.

Victoria Dokken is working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia. She is currently intensely studying the language and will be working with two NGOs. One NGO (Nor Luyce – New Light) has begun a 3-phase mentorship program for orphaned and low-income girls in Gyumri, of which I will be helping to develop phase 2 and 3. She will also working with a new NGO, LOGOS, which seeks to combine a healthy lifestyle with youth activities such as environmental cleanup. She will be helping to specify the NGOs mission and create a more sustainable future. After her PC work she intends to study international development through a PC fellowship, hopefully in DC.

Alexa Lipke is currently pursuing a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. One of her internships is International Programs Intern with International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI) where she is the founding administrator for their Alumni Advisory Board and the South Asia contributor for IPSI’s weekly Peace & Security Report. She is also an intern at the Office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in Washington, DC. While still a student at UF, Alexa was admitted (early decision) to the International Peace & Security Institute in Bologna, Italy, where she participated in the summer Symposium on Conflict Prevention, Resolution, and Reconciliation.

Jose Perez was awarded a Fulbright Grant to Brazil for 2015, and is currently completing a Public Affairs Internship at Hamilton Place Strategies in Washington, D.C. He plans to complete graduate school in a few years.

Anh-Thu Nguyen completed an internship in Washington DC working with international non-profit organizations on a crowd-sourcing platform. Since then, she continues to reside in DC, working as a Research Associate in grants prospecting for non-profits around the country.

Dillon Clancy was awarded the prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship, which provides up to $90,000 for graduate study in exchange for a minimum of five years service as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State. Dillon will attend the Security Policy Studies MA program at George Washington University in Washington, DC beginning in the fall of 2014. Upon appointment to the Foreign Service, Dillon plans to work as a Political Officer focusing on security policy in the developing world.

Naveed Jazayeri will be attending the Midwest Political Science Conference with his supervisor, Professor Sjoberg, to present present a paper on their project together. Subsequently, he will be working as legislative intern in Washington D.C. for Senator Bill Nelson during Summer A and traveling to Europe to complete the UF in Cambridge study abroad program during Summer B.

If you are a former or current Junior Fellow who would like to share their recent accomplishments, please feel free to email the Program Director.

Junior Fellows group on Facebook

Program Documentation: