I am an Assistant Professor at the United States Naval Academy, and I earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 2021. I am also a faculty affiliate for the Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) and a former graduate affiliate for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI).
My research and teaching interests include: American politics, political institutions, legislative politics, social class and economic inequality, bureaucracy, presidency, quantitative methods, causal inference, and formal models and empirical testing.
My dissertation explores the prevalence and consequences of economic inequality within the U.S. Congress. More specifically, I expand existing data with supplemental and original data collection on the wealth of Representatives between 1980 and 2014, and I identify large and increasing disparities over time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, members of Congress are not always drawn from the highest economic strata nor are they consistently and exorbitantly more wealthy than the average citizen. In fact, members in the bottom quintile of wealth are more similar to typical Americans than they are to most other Representatives. Instead, I find that it is only the wealthiest members in the top wealth quartile who are distinct from most of their constituents and colleagues alike. These inequalities among Representatives have important implications for their electoral strategies, legislative activities, and representation – which I explore in the remainder of my dissertation.
More broadly, my research examines how political elites engage in policymaking and other activities through political institutions, incorporating both formal and quantitative methods to develop and test new theories. My other ongoing projects investigate the causes and consequences of bureaucratic decision-making, presidential power and communication, and the impact of congressional committees on legislators’ career paths and legislative effectiveness. My research is motivated by my passion to understand when and why political institutions work well in addition to how to make them function better.
Prior to joining Vanderbilt, I graduated from the University of Georgia (UGA) in 2016 with a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.A. in Political Science (Go Dawgs!). While I attended UGA, I was privileged to work as a resident assistant with University Housing, and I also served as the Director of Public Affairs for the University Judiciary. I also had the pleasure to work at the Chick-fil-a Dwarf House in Duluth, GA.
These experiences and others, in addition to my connection with numerous mentors and mentees, help to inform my commitment to service and mentorship. Most recently, prior to moving to Annapolis, I was honored to serve as a mentor (and big brother) to several high school students with the TN Achieves program (Tennessee College Scholarship and Mentorship). I believe that we all owe a debt for our privileges and opportunities in life, and I am most satisfied personally and professionally when I am paying my debt forward.
For more information about me or my work, please visit the C.V., Research, and Teaching tabs. If you would like to provide me with feedback or schedule an appointment to chat, please visit the Contact tab.