I joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as an assistant professor in 2015. I earned my M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and did my undergraduate work at the College of William and Mary. When I’m not working or spending time with my family, you can probably find me watching a Washington Nationals game.
Q: What led you to become a political scientist?
A: Having grown up in the Washington D.C. area, I was surrounded by politics as a kid. My father was a lawyer, and my mother worked for a local government, and both of them were a big influence on me. When I was in college, a few professors really encouraged me to think about becoming a political scientist. After spending a few years working in Richmond and D.C., I decided they were right and headed off to graduate school.
Q: What kinds of research questions are most interesting to you?
A: My research interests complement my view of what a constitution is supposed to do. The most important functions of a constitution are to establish governing institutions, limit the power of those institutions by protecting individual rights, and define the values of a political community. My most recent research projects explore public attitudes towards the Constitution, but I am also interested in examining how courts operate in the American political system. My earlier scholarship traces the development of the Supreme Court’s civil rights and religious freedom jurisprudence.
Q: What ideas, skills, or experiences do you hope students will come away with after having taken a class with you?
A: I hope that students who take my classes learn to question commonly-held assumptions about American law and politics. Just because the Supreme Court has said something is constitutional does not mean it ought to be. Just because the Constitution established a governing process that worked well in the 18th century does not automatically mean that process works well today. Well-educated young women and men should be able to make their own determinations about the kind of democracy they want to live in.
Q: What can POLI majors do with their degrees?
A: Political science majors have a bright future ahead of them, especially in this area. Political science majors can go onto law school, or get a graduate degree in public policy or make a difference in their communities right away. Before I went to graduate school, I used my undergraduate political science degree to work as a higher education lobbyist, speechwriter, and press secretary for a non-profit.