Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Matthew Hayes

Dr. Matthew Hayes, Associate Professor of Political Science

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Lincoln, NE


Where did you complete your undergrad?

University of Chicago


Where did you complete your PhD?

University of Illinois


When did you come to WashU?

Fall of 2022


What is your area of concentration (IR, Comparative, Methods, American, etc.)?



Why did you pursue political science?

I had two family friends who steered me in this direction! Dr. James Nyman was a political science Ph.D. (University of British Columbia) who steered me to the University of Chicago and encouraged me to study politics. Dr. John Hibbing is a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska who first talked to me about the life of a professor. Both of their encouragement (as well as reading some excellent work on American Politics by folks like John Hibbing) drew me in to pursue a Ph.D. in political science.


Research you are most proud of? 

The research I'm most proud of right now is "Pitch perfect: Vocal pitch and the emotional intensity of congressional speech." I was working with two brilliant and engaging co-authors, and the project really lies at the intersection of all of my interests: political psychology, representation, and the politics of marginalized groups. It was incredibly rewarding learning about a new method (the analysis of audio data) and applying theories of emotions from political psychology to the really important topic of women's representation.


What is your favorite class to teach and why?

African American Politics. It allows me to teach a mix of political history, political thought, and empirical political science. Students usually come out of the class with a much better understanding of the continued racial inequality in our country, and African Americans' struggle for equal rights in this country.


What is one piece of advice you would give a student interested in becoming a professor?

Stop by office hours and talk to your professors about it! Getting good advice from faculty is the best way to ensure that you start your path towards academia on solid footing.


What is the most challenging class you have ever taken?

Calculus III in college. Proofs by induction were NOT my friend.


Favorite spot to go on campus?

The new Coffeestamp coffee shop! The empanadas are delicious and I love their single origin coffee.


Favorite place to eat in St. Louis (or on campus)?

I really like Little Fox, Brasserie by Niche, and Union Loafers


What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

I can't blow bubbles with bubble gum.


What motivates you to work hard?

My family.


Favorite travel destination and why?

Rocky Mountain National Park. The hiking there is amazing, and it's very accessible from Denver so you can both enjoy the outdoors as well as exploring a cool city.


Favorite quarantine pastime or hobby?
I played lots of boardgames during quarantine. Pandemic: Legacy and Wingspan were two favorites.