I arrived at UMBC in 2004, after completing a Ph.D. in Political Science at Emory University. I also have a Masters in Italian from the University of North Carolina and before completing my Ph.D. I taught various levels of Italian language at both UNC and Emory. I have published articles in topics related to Comparative Politics in various journals and in 2016 my book, Beginning Research in Political Science, was released by Oxford University Press. In terms of my personal interests, I greatly enjoy hiking the woods around the Patapsco River with my dog and traveling when I can with my family.
Q: What led you to become a political scientist?
A: I did a study abroad program in Florence, Italy in 1992, which was during a time of great political change. For me, what was surprising was the highly visible presence of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which had support in Florence and the center part of Italy in general. I was a teenager during the end of the Cold War, so seeing Communist propaganda all over the place was a bit shocking. Once I learned that the PCI was “Euro-Communist” and that its ideology was compatible with democracy and even free market economics to some degree, I was hooked and wanted to know more.
Q: What kinds of research questions are most interesting to you?
A: I enjoy doing research for questions dealing with democracy, political parties, and patterns of representation. I would call myself a ‘parties person.’ I like to examine how electoral systems grant parties access to both legislative and executive-level representation, and how parties adapt to changing circumstances. I have a particular interest in Italian Politics as well. I am also involved with undergraduate research pedagogy and have recently developed an interest in public opinion concerning democratic support.
Q: What ideas, skills, or experiences do you hope students will come away with after having taken a class with you?
A: I think that our classes should provide skills that students can apply in various ways for different aspects of their lives – not only the academic part. Perhaps the most important skills involve critical analysis and oral and written communication. Students who can critically evaluate what they learn and who can speak and write effectively are much more prepared for their post-college life in many different ways.
Q: What can POLI majors do with their degrees?
A: There are so many things a POLI major can do. When someone majors in pre-med, we have a pretty good idea of what that person is going to do next. Our students, on the other hand, do many different things. Some become directly involved with government affairs at different levels of government, work for the civil service or another type of organization, teach topics related to social science, or attend graduate or professional school for political science, public policy, law, or administration. There are many things a student can do with a political science degree!