Ph.D. & M.A. – University of California, Davis
B.S. – Weber State University
Areas of Expertise
Policing, state & local politics, public opinion, public policy, political behavior, political psychology, political communication, experimental methods, and social network analysis.
Courses I Teach:
Introduction to American National Government
American Constitutional Law
From Professor Simmons
I’ve been a political nerd since the summer of the 2000 election. Even as a kid, I consumed as much information as I could about the nomination process, how elections function, and the legal arguments made to justify how Florida’s contested votes should be counted. After the election, I continued to be intensely curious about how the “rules of the game” could influence political decision-making. What I came to understand is that the best policy doesn’t usually win out; rather, the politician with the greatest knowledge and mastery of the rules can bend the political process to their preferences.
My goal as a professor is to instruct my students on the rules that govern the political process in the United States, empowering them be able to function within those rules to accomplish their political goals. Additionally, I seek to challenge my students to be creative in how they approach politics, aiming to instill in them the recognition that politics permeates every aspect of our collective lives. If my students leave my class equipped with the knowledge of the rules, and inspired to consider creative solutions to political problems, I believe they will succeed in achieving the transformative change in society they and their generation desire.
My primary research uses experimental methods to explore how police shootings influence the public’s political behavior. I examine how police shootings affect who the public determines is to blame for these incidents, how the public votes in local elections after a shooting, how police unions influence the public’s political behavior, and how police shootings affect public preferences for policing policy reforms.
I also use experimental methods to examine varied aspects of political behavior, such as how religion can influence the public’s foreign intervention policy preferences, how local election results can affect a political party’s national prospects, the role of partisanship and ideology in shaping the public’s support for democratic reforms, and how shocks to political systems can affect network formation and behavior.