I am an assistant professor in the Department of Politics & Government at Illinois State University.
My research is focused on direct democracy in the U.S. In particular, I'm interested in legislative restriction of the initiative, referendum, and recall. That is, why have some states made it increasingly difficult for the public to use direct democracy powers, while others largely sit back and welcome "citizen legislating?" I'm also looking at potential downstream consequences of direct democracy such as the effect of ballot measures on descriptive representation in Congress (i.e. do candidates from marginalized groups fare better on Election Day in states with salient measures on the ballot?).
I also study congressional elections and representation. I look at factors that determine whether candidates speak clearly or ambiguously on key issues of the day. For instance, are all candidates are able to employ ambiguous rhetoric to avoid public accountability for broken campaign promises? Or is this strategy of ambiguity viable only for candidates of a particular race or gender? Furthermore, how might strategic position-taking shape public beliefs about a candidate's integrity and ability to represent the constituency?
In my spare time, I work to develop free web applications and software to make life easier for academics (e.g. organizing conferences, online peer review for smaller journals, customized web-scrapers, and text analysis). I love video games (no consoles, please), and will always promote them to my students as a great way to learn how to code.