Andrew Kerr grew up in the desert of western Colorado and received his BA in History from Haverford College. After graduation, Andrew lived in Seattle, Spain, and Providence, RI before serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. After two years in Central America, Andrew returned to the States and worked in immigration law and in special education. He’s currently pursuing his PhD in History with interests in U.S. Empire as well as Latin American, Environmental and Post-Colonial history. His dissertation is tentatively titled: “The Fight for Vieques, Puerto Rico – A Story of Empire and Environmentalism during the Cold War.” His research analyzes the contested relationships between the U.S. military and communities located in the margins of the American empire. It also examines the intersection of environmentalism and the politics of national security. When he’s not reading and writing, or thinking about the next World Cup, Andrew enjoys playing sports, cooking, and coaching at soccer camps for refugee students in Oakland.
Lia Winfield earned a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in 2008 before entering the UC Davis History Department’s PhD program. Her research interests include women’s identity, women’s military service, citizenship, and civil-military relations. Her dissertation, tentatively titled, “Claiming Their Place: Women in the United States Army, 1973-1993” examines women’s integration into the army from the beginning of the all-volunteer force through the Gulf War. Lia’s work is based on archival sources as well as oral history interviews from women and men who served in army during that time. She is particularly interested in how female soldiers perceived the transition to an all-volunteer force in 1973 and the civilian second wave feminist movement of the 1970s and 1980s. She hopes to investigate how studying women in the army complicates our understanding of feminism. Lia is also very interested in exploring not only how the all-volunteer opened up more opportunities for women in the army but also how the new volunteer military effected civil-military relations in the late twentieth century. Her dissertation also pays close attention to how race and class influenced women’s military service.
Debra Leiter is a PhD Candidate in the Political Science Department at the University of California, Davis. She is a native Californian, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego. Her major fields of research are comparative politics and American politics. Debra’s work has been featured in the British Journal of Political Science. Debra’s research focuses on the intersection of elections, voters, and political parties, emphasizing Western European elections. Her dissertation, entitled “How Individual, Party System, and Institutional Factors Mediate Voter and Party Emphasis on Valence and Ideology,” attempts to parse out when citizens emphasize candidate and party qualities that lead to good governance, such as competency, honesty and integrity, and under what conditions political parties emphasize these traits during elections. Her dissertation also examines whether and under what conditions voters make tradeoffs between parties and candidates who emphasize voters’ preferred policy outcomes, and those who emphasize the characteristics that lead to good governance. This research has important implications for the study of democratic accountability and representation.
Michelle Schwarze is a third-year Ph.D. student in Political Theory who received her B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science in 2008 from the University of Nevada, Reno before moving to Davis. Her research centers on moral philosophy and psychology, with a particular focus on Scottish Enlightenment thinkers like David Hume and Adam Smith and the psychological mechanisms behind reciprocal and cooperative behaviors. She is also an active member of the Graduate Association of Political Science Students (GAPSS) and an organizer of the UC Davis Political Theory Workshop Series, a forum in which both faculty and graduate students in political theory can present work in preparation for academic conferences and publication.
In her dissertation, “The Motivation for Justice: Moral and Political Psychology in the Scottish Enlightenment,” Michelle investigates the psychological mechanisms behind moral action by drawing on both the moral sense theories of David Hume and Adam Smith and the experimental psychology and economics literatures. While both political theorists are well known for their contributions to modern philosophy and economics, their moral theories provide a detailed psychological account of the motivation for just action. Michelle’s dissertation reconstructs these accounts in order to establish a comprehensive understanding of moral motivation and to address some of the cooperative dilemmas identified by rational choice theory, while providing a theoretical basis for empirical findings in experimental economics and psychology on cooperation and altruism as well.
David Simon is a doctoral student in Economics, with a BA in Economics and Religious Studies and an MA in Applied Economics. He has a broad intellectual interest in how family inputs made during early childhood influence long term health, and labor market outcomes, as well as the intergenerational transfer of inequality. David’s research focuses on evaluating how government tax and transfer policy affects a family’s health decisions and investments in their children. The central chapter of his dissertation, “Anti-Tobacco Policy and the Long Term Impacts of In Utero Exposure to Cigarette Smoke,” looks at the long term effect of smoking during pregnancy on a child’s health and education. He uses in utero exposure to state level anti-tobacco policy as plausibly exogenous variation to early life exposure to cigarette smoke. He is also co-authoring a paper titled Income, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Infant Health with Hilary Hoynes and Doug Miller. This paper investigates how income improves birth outcomes using changes in income generated by expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit which increased the affluence of many low-income families throughout the 1990s. Finally, he has a research project investigating the causal impact of education on birth outcomes and infant health using policy changes in compulsory schooling laws to identify changes in parental education.