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Scott Boddery
Through quantitative research Boddery seeks to emphasize “the intensely political nature of the U.S. domestic court system...

As a law student, Scott Boddery developed an interest in the strategic interactions between the judiciary and the political branches of the U.S. government
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Scott Boddery


Dissertation Title: "The Same Passions for Party and Power: The Executive's Influence on Supreme Court Independence"

Chair: Jeff Yates

Committee: Wendy Martinek, Michael McDonald

Broadly, Scott's work entails empirical legal research. His dissertation addresses the iterative relationship between U.S. presidents and Supreme Court justices. Beyond his dissertation, Scott's research focuses on legal decision-making, Supreme Court legitimacy and public opinion, experimental design, and the U.S. presidency. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in several peer-reviewed outlets.


Jenna Kelkres Emery

Dissertation Title: "The Anti-Partisan: Social Identification and
Partisan Preference"

Chair: Jonathan S. Krasno

Committee: Gregory Robinson, Michael D. McDonald

Publications: "The First State Lobbyists: State Offices in Washington During World War II," in the Journal of Policy History. April 2011. (with Jennifer Jensen).

Jenna's research and teaching interests focus on American politics and
political behavior, much of it using theories of psychology and
sociology. She has taught courses on these topics and on public
administration. Her dissertation draws from literature on party
identification and social identity to examine the effect that social
groups have on our party preferences. She is a George L. Hinman Fellow
and currently a Visiting Scholar at Florida State University where she
is collaborating with faculty to conduct an experiment as part of her

Benjamin Farrer

Dissertation Title: "Substitutable Organizational Strategies for Policy Influence by Niche Interests"

Chair: Olga Shvetsova

Committee:Mikhail Filippov and Michael D. McDonald

Ben's research interests center on environmental parties and pressure groups, as well as on formal and empirical methods. His dissertation explains the variety of organizational mechanisms used by niche interests to influence mainstream politicians.

Graig Klein


Dissertation Title: "Mobilizing Zealots: Terrorists' Strategic Target Selection as a Mechanism for Political Mobilization"

Dissertation Chair: David H. Clark

Dissertation Committee: Patrick M. Regan, Olga Shvetsova

Dissertation Synopsis: Terror groups, similar to other opposition movements, are in fierce competition with the state for supporters. Successful political mobilization is particularly crucial for terrorists since they rely on fanatics to perpetrate attacks and generate resources necessary for other group activities. Mobilizing fanatics is a key organizational necessity and encourages strategic attack target selection which includes size, timing, frequency and symbolism. Attacks aim to provoke governments into distributing collective "bads" amongst terrorists' audience creating new or additional grievances, desires for revenge and disruption of public goods as such collective "bads" are used for political mobilization. Framing terror attacks as mechanisms for political mobilization allows for a deeper understanding of the behavioral incentives that motivate terrorists' strategic target selection and attack planning. Terrorists, in their pursuit of attracting new recruits seek to distort or manipulate a president's policy and military options. When terrorists are in the greatest need of replenishing their most important resource – adherents willing to engage in acts of terror – we observe shifts in terrorism that are attributable to political mobilization incentives.

Kyle Mackey


Dissertation Title: War Aims and War Termination: How States Prosecute Their Wars

Dissertation Chair: David H. Clark

Dissertation Committee: Benjamin O. Fordham, Amanda A. Licht

Dissertation Synopsis: The dissertation provides a theory of how military capabilities shape conflict behavior during crisis and war, arguing that military capabilities have both informative and materially coercive attributes. Capabilities are informative during crises, as military threats reveal private information, and are informative during war because fighting allows belligerents to overcome the problem of uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict. Military capabilities are materially beneficial during crises, as mobilization procures material advantages that shape states' probability of victory if hostilities escalate to war. Moreover, the material characteristic of capabilities is present during war, and allows states to impose costs on the battlefield by reducing their opponents' capacity to continue fighting. Wars begin and end because the material and informative characteristics of capabilities force states to revise their demands and war aims. I empirically evaluate the differential effects of capabilities at two points in time: First, I focus on prewar mobilization behavior, where states adjust their capabilities to enhance the material or informative nature of their military strength depending on whether they mobilize in public or private. Second, the project focuses on the actual prosecution of war on the battlefield, where I assess how materially coercive and informative military engagements shape the decision to continue fighting or terminate the conflict.

S. Hande Ogutcu


Dissertation Title: "Outside the Battlefield: Impact of Internal and External Political Dynamics on Civil Conflict Negotiations and Settlements"

Chair: Seden Akcinaroglu

Committee: Michael McDonald, Olga Shvetsova, Ricardo Laremont

Synopsis:  This dissertation project examines the influence of various political dynamics on the decisions of governments and rebel groups to negotiate, settle, and commit to settlement's terms. The first chapter explores adversaries' internal political environment and argues that autonomy from constituent and elite obstruction is essential for negotiation and settlement. The second chapter studies the influence of external actors and argues that governments and rebel groups are more willing to negotiate a settlement when under pressure from their respective rivals to consolidate their scarce military or political resources. These chapters introduce original negotiations data for simultaneous estimation of negotiations and settlements. The third chapter analyzes the ways in which unilateral third-party intervention can stabilize or spoil post-settlement peace based on interveners' political interests. This dissertation expands our understanding of civil conflict resolution by examining its multiple stages and multi-actor dynamics.

Sheryl Symons


Dissertation Title: "States and Human Rights Regimes: Advocacy, Treaty Participation, and Regime Complexity"

Chair:  David Cingranelli

Committee:  Ben Fordham, Katja Kleinberg

Dissertation Synopsis:  The project evaluates state advocacy (sponsorship, speeches, and votes) in the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (United Nations General Assembly) as an indicator of state preferences for human rights, as well as multilateral approaches to enforcement. Preferences expressed in this Committee are informative because they help to explain human rights outcomes such as cooperation and expansion in the United Nations human rights regime, international human rights treaty ratification, and subsequent compliance. The project also provides a deeper understanding of human rights issues, international advocacy behaviors, and the interaction of states in an international setting.

Joshua Whaley


Dissertation Title: Information Bubbles & Echo Chambers: The Role of Social Identity in Macro-Opinion Development

Dissertation Chair: Jon Krasno

Dissertation Committee: Greg Robinson, Michael McDonald

Dissertation Synopsis:The collective will of the public plays a considerable role in the policy choices of Democracies. Yet, the forces that influence the behavior of aggregate public opinion are not well understood. Micro-level theories of attitude development in individuals, while offering valuable insight, cannot account for aggregate behavior. Empirically, macro-opinion is relatively stable, responsive to changing conditions in logical ways, and those of population subgroups generally move in tandem (Page and Shapiro 1992). This dissertation argues that social identity plays a vital role in this behavior. Both though the influence of, group membership and "the value and emotional significance attached to the membership" (Tajfel 1974).

Joshua Zingher

Dissertation Title: Party Competition, Demographic Change and the Maintenance of the Competitive Equilibrium.

Chair: Michael D. McDonald

Josh's research and teaching interests focus on American political parties and political behavior, as well as on empirical methods. His dissertation research investigates the relationship between demographic change and party positioning. Several of his other ongoing projects investigate questions pertaining to electoral realignments, racially polarized voting, immigration policy, electoral coalition change and the macro level effects of the incumbency advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Andrei Zhirnov


Dissertation Title:  "Role of activists and donors as constituencies in the electoral process"

Chair:  Olga V. Shvetsova

Committee:  William B. Heller, Michael D. McDonald

Dissertation synopsis:  In my dissertation, I examine the role of donors and activists for the party system dynamics through the theoretical framework of strategic coordination in the electoral process (Myerson and Weber 1993, Cox 1997, Cox 1999). I view donors and activists as ''financial constituencies'', who, similarly to voting constituencies, make independent strategic decisions about which political parties they support. Unlike voters, financial constituencies can make variable contributions to the political campaigns and the timing of their input is not constrained to the election day. Empirically, I find the aggregate demand of financial constituencies for policy influence contributes to the safety of incumbent political parties, and hence -- renders some inertia to the composition of the legislative party system. I also find that if financial constituencies are induced to support challengers early the campaign (e.g., if restrictive ballot access rules threaten to reduce the options available to them later in the campaign), their support may increase the average electoral impact of the challenger parties. Finally, I argue that the difference in the income distribution between electoral districts creates territorial asymmetry in the development of the party system.


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Last Updated: 8/26/14