Letter from the Chair

When I was in college I had the chance to meet Ken Mattingly, the Apollo 13 astronaut who didn’t get to fly on the Saturn V rocket. He told me a story that characterizes my role as the department chair here at WashU. Mattingly relayed meeting with a launch technician who was working long & late into the night. The technician said, of his piece of the mission: “it won’t fail because of me.” Mattingly called that the spirit of Apollo: the idea that together -- through hard work, persistence and understanding that what we do matters -- we can accomplish great things.


As a department chair my goal for the department is to continue that spirit of Apollo within our faculty, students and staff. Our work matters more now than ever in the world – as we see a world ravaged by war, polarization, misinformation and climate change, we see an incredible need for more research on government, policy and politics.


Our department is producing that much-needed research & receiving incredible recognition. This semester we’ve had faculty win prestigious awards, including a Carnegie Corporation Grant given to Christopher Lucas, Jacob Montgomery & Margit Tavits for their project on populist rhetoric as well as National Science Foundation awards to Matt Gabel to study minority representation strategies and to Christopher Lucas to better understand police body camera data. We’ve hosted our first program to increase the accessibility of PhD education. We’ve promoted two faculty with tenure, Amy Pond and Timm Betz. We’ve expanded our program in International Relations (including hiring Christy Qiu) & hosted the prestigious Peace Science meeting. We’ve hired a new faculty member: Michael Strawbridge, who is an expert in racial & ethnic politics.  In June we congratulated our graduate student Ben Noble as he started his first job as an assistant professor at UCSD. We are continuing in our tradition of intellectual intensity and radical empathy. This is a department that is hungry to do rigorous political science with a profoundly kind culture. It is a privilege to work with such an incredible department.


Mattingly passed away this year, but I like to think he’d appreciate how much his message has continued to inspire. I hope it inspires you too – this year we are asking our newsletter readers to help with our mission and to contribute to support WUSTEPS, our onramp to increase the accessibility of graduate school for all. You can contribute HERE.


Here is a reference to the oral history of Ken Mattingly, in which he references the spirit of Apollo.


-Professor Betsy Sinclair, Chair of Political Science

Matthew Hayes, Associate Professor Political Science

Letter from Director of Diversity

2023 was an exciting year for diversity and inclusion in the Department of Political Science. In summer 2023, the Department hosted the first of a multi-year program – the Washington University Summer Training Experience in Political Science – to help broaden the pipeline of students into graduate study in the social science. A total of 6 students, all from underrepresented backgrounds, participated in our inaugural year. More than a dozen faculty members pitched in to serve as research mentors, teach professionalization workshops, or attend networking events. We look forward to continuing this program in Summer 2024. The Department is also taking a number of active steps to broaden our own Ph.D. applicant pool and support our current students. In June, we continued our Department’s presence at the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute’s graduate recruitment fair. We also continue to participate in the American Political Science Associations’ Diversity Student Recruitment Program, and we have begun a collaboration with the Office of Graduate Studies to leverage their resources to raise awareness about our Ph.D. program to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Finally, second-year student Irene Gerrish was selected as a 2023-2024 APSA Diversity Fellow. This highly competitive program helps support exceptional students in their pre-dissertation years, and the Department is incredibly proud of Irene for having been selected! We are also looking forward to a very bright 2024. In March, scholars from our department will be participating in the first annual Mid-American Conference for Race, Gender, Immigration, and Ethnicity Politics to be held at the University of Missouri. This conference should help support our graduate students and faculty working in the areas of gender and politics as well as racial and ethnic politics. In May, the Department will host the Visions in Methodology Conference, which seeks to connect women faculty and graduate students interested in political methodology. Last but certainly not least, as part of our efforts to grow our faculty in racial and ethnic politics, the department successfully recruited Michael Strawbridge to join us as an assistant professor in Fall 2024. We look forward to continuing this incredible momentum as we ring in a new year! (CLICK THE ELLIPSIS TO THE RIGHT TO READ THE NEXT LETTER.)

Frank Lovett, Professor of Political Science

Letter from the Director of Undergraduate Studies

Political Science is one of the strongest and most popular programs of study at Washington University. The Fall Open House for students considering the major was standing room only! Our mission is to enhance the analytical and research abilities of our students, while deepening their knowledge of political institutions, behavior, and thought. Political science offers an exceptional opportunity to develop skills of knowledge integration: for example, to combine contextual-historical reporting with quantitative data and normative argument, and to communicate complex findings in clear and persuasive writing. It is thus no surprise that our graduates are commonly admitted to elite professional and graduate schools, and go on to successful careers in an extraordinarily wide range of public and private sector jobs. This year our focus is on strengthening student advising and thesis mentoring. We are currently compiling a comprehensive advising handbook for our faculty that will not only provide a detailed overview of our program requirements, but also answer common questions and give suggestions for best advising practices. Our goal is to ensure that every student who comes to Political Science receives strong and consistent guidance right through to graduation. Of course our aim is to deliver not only first-rate instruction in Political Science, but also to build community among our faculty, students, and alumni. This has taken the form of faculty and student meetings to workshop graduate school applications, as well as our ongoing coffee breaks. In October the department co-sponsored an environmental justice event organized by one of our majors. The students’ passion and level of engagement was noted by the Pulitzer Center when they invited our Environmental Policy majors to participate in a cross-national dialogue on climate change and labor. Next year we will welcome the Pi Sigma Alpha Honors Club back to Washington University. Stay connected with us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/washupolisci! Here you will find not only event announcements, but also department news, job and internship postings, and academic opportunities. (CLICK THE ELLIPSIS TO THE RIGHT TO READ THE NEXT LETTER.)

Keith Schnakenberg, Associate Professor of Political Science

Letter from the Director of Graduate Studies

We have had an exciting past few months in the graduate program. Here is a recap of some of what has happened since the Spring newsletter: First, we had our first annual WUSTEPS program over the summer. This free 6-week training program aims to equip undergraduates from diverse backgrounds for political science Ph.D. programs, offering mentored research opportunities, introductory research methods training, and professionalization seminars. By all accounts, this program brought talented students to campus and gave them a useful taste of social science graduate training. Second, we also welcomed a large first year cohort of 16 students who are settling into graduate school and finishing up their first semester of training. Finally, we have many graduate student accomplishments to celebrate. Dahjin Kim was awarded an APSA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. First year graduate student Andrew Strasberg won an award from Pi Sigma Alpha for his undergraduate research presented at MPSA last Spring. Lukas Alexander, also a first year graduate student, published a paper in the journal Congress & The Presidency. Additionally, Ipek Sener, Dahjin Kim, Gechun Lin, Rex Deng, and Amaan Chariniya won an award for best paper from the APSA Foreign Policy Section. We are proud of all of our students and their accomplishments and we look forward to more successes in the future. (CLICK THE ELLIPSIS TO THE RIGHT TO READ THE NEXT LETTER.)

New Professor: Amy Pond

Amy Pond, Associate Professor of Political Science, joins our faculty specializing in international and comparative political economy. Her current research looks at how market concentration and international ownership affect domestic policies, including the provision of public goods like property rights and democratic representation.

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New Professor: Timm Betz

Timm Betz, Associate Professor of Political Science, joins our faculty specializing in international political economy and international institutions. His research addresses the institutional sources of trade policy and trade openness; the fragmentation of firms across countries and across owners; and how governments manage sovereign debt.

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New Professor: Xiaoyan (Christy) Qiu

Christy Qiu, Assistant Professor of Political Science, joins our faculty specializing in international conflict. Her current research focuses on rebel strategies, state support for insurgent groups, and state formation.

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Visiting Professor: Princess Williams

Princess Williams, Visiting Professor of Political Science, comes to us from the University of Michigan. Her research agenda includes projects measuring sub-national identities and regional cultures in the U.S and examining their influence on American politics.

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“Graduate school is not something that is talked about in undergrad. WUSTEPS did a good job at showing alternative paths, even beyond academia. One thing I assumed about graduate school is that it would be even more expensive than undergrad, and not everyone could afford to do it. I didn’t realize how much support was available.”

―Naya BusbeaPolitical Science Major at McKendree University, WUSTEPS Political Science Pipeline Program participant

Awards and Publications

Irene Gerrish

Fellowship Irene Gerrish was one of eighteen selected for 23-24 APSA Diversity Fellowship Program.

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Andrew Reeves

Article Andrew Reeves's new paper, "Democratic Values and Support for Executive Power", has been published in Presidential Studies Quarterly.

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Brian Crisp

Article Brian Crisp's research appears in the latest issue of the British Journal of Political Science. His work, "The Role of District Magnitude in When Women Represent Women," is co-authored with Patrick Cunha Silva of Loyola University Chicago.

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Taylor Carlson

Award Taylor Carlson receives 2023 PolNet Best Book Award for "What Goes Without Saying," co-authored with Jaime Settle of the College of William and Mary.

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Steven S. Smith

Award Steven S. Smith, former Weidenbaum Center Director and recently retired Political Science professor of 20+ years, was awarded the 2023 Barbara Sinclair Lecture.

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Margit Tavits

Award Margit Tavits receives the the 2023 Arts & Sciences Faculty Leadership Award to recognize the exceptional service she has given to Arts & Sciences and Washington University throughout the years.

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Professors Carter, Enamorado, Montgomery, Motolinia, Olson, Rosas, and Wayne

Grant Weidenbaum Internal Grant Recipients include David Carter, Ted Enamorado, Jacob Montgomery, Lucia Motolinia, Michael Olson, Guillermo Rosas, and Carly Wayne

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Professors Montgomery, Tavits, and Lucas

Grant A two-year, $330,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation will help Professor Jacob Montgomery, Professor Margit Tavits, and Professor Christopher Lucas analyze millions of political social media posts and survey democratic citizens. The grant funding was secured by the Transdisciplinary Institute in Applied Data Sciences (TRIADS), where Professor Montgomery serves as director.

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Dahjin Kim

Grant Graduate student Dahjin Kim received an APSA Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.

Andrew Strasberg

Award Andrew Strasberg's paper, "Who Tweets Populism When?", was chosen as the winner of the Pi Sigma Alpha Best Undergraduate Paper Award Presented in a Poster Format Award following the 2023 MPSA Annual Conference.

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Carly Wayne

Article Carly Wayne's new article "Terrified or Enraged? Emotional Microfoundations of Public Counterterror Attitudes" was published in the journal International Organization, and published online by the Cambridge University Press.

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Recent graduate Benjamin Noble joined the Department of Political Science at UC San Diego as an Assistant Professor.

Ben Noble

Alumni '23

Jeremy Siow is named Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Quantitative Political Science at the University of Oxford, ahead of his May 2024 graduation.

Jeremy Siow

Graduate Student '24

Support Political Science at WashU

Looking to the future of the department we are committed to enriching undergraduate and graduate experiences through student research, scholarly networking, and extracurricular events, including election-related programming, speakers, and other community-building events. These varied learning opportunities are invaluable to our students, and you can help enhance our efforts by making a gift to the Department of Political Science today.

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