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I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. My research examines the social, structural, and psychological factors that shape why people engage in politics—and relatedly, how Americans’ race shapes their political lives. 

My recent book, The Obligation Mosaic, shows that norms and racial segregation create variations in political participation across Asian, Black, Latino, and White Americans. My current research considers how social movements influence race socialization priorities in families and schools. Other scholarship explores participatory spillover from felony disenfranchisement policies, racial divisions in carceral state attitudes, and the construction of race through contextual factors and discussion of disease. My published work appears in American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Perspectives on Politics, and with University of Chicago Press.

I am a current member of Vanderbilt’s RIPS Lab. Before graduate school, I was the Ameri*Corps VISTA for Community Engagement and Scholarship in William & Mary’s Office of Community Engagement. I graduated with honors from The College of William & Mary in 2009 with a double major in American Studies and Government, and in 2016 from Stanford University with a PhD in Political Science.

Recent book: Buy it now on Amazon.

Many argue that “civic duty” explains why Americans engage in politics, but what does civic duty mean, and does it mean the same thing across communities? Drawing on interviews, surveys, and experiments with Asian, Black, Latino, and White Americans, I show the obligations that bring people into the political world—or encourage them to stay away—vary systematically by race. In the United States, two norms centrally define these obligations: honoring ancestors and helping those in need. Whether these norms lead different groups to politics depends on distinct racial histories and continued patterns of segregation. These findings have broad implications for political representation in America and reveal opportunities for change, suggesting how activists and parties can better mobilize marginalized citizens.