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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Public Policy

JoBeth S Shafran. American Politics / Public Policy. Thesis: A Whirlpool of Information: Information Sharing in Policy Subsystems (Jones, McDaniel, Moser, Theriault, Workman). My dissertation focuses on information supply and prioritization in policy making. Congressional policy making requires information on the substance and feasibility of the policy itself and on the political ramifications for supporting or opposing said policy. Often the information required for policy making is supplied by the subsystem, a collection of experts with an interest in that particular issue area. Within a policy subsystem, actors (ex. bureaucrats and interest groups) generate and supply information to Congress in an effort to influence problem definitions and the policy-making process. I investigate when and to what extent bureaucrats dominate the information supply space in the energy, business regulation, and health policy subsystems. When are bureaucrats, as opposed to businesses and interest groups, most likely to provide information to congressional committees? I employ an original dataset of over 34,000 witnesses testifying at congressional committee hearings from 1995-2010 in these three policy areas to investigate whether the propensity for bureaucrats to be the dominant source of information in a subsystem varies by policy area and congressional committee or in response to crises and uncertainty. Education: Ph.D. Government, University of Texas at Austin (expected May 2015); M.A. Government, University of Texas at Austin (2011); M.A. Political Science, West Virginia University (2008); B.A. Political Science, West Virginia University (2006). Awards: Walter Rollins Scholar, West Virginia State Legislature Intern (2007); Arts and Sciences Departmental Scholarship, West Virginia University (2007-2008); McGance Public Service Fellowship, West Virginia University (2006-2008). Publications: book chapter in New Directions in American Politics (with Sean Theriault, 2013); book chapter in Policy Paradigms in Theory and Practice: Discourses, Ideas and Anomalies in Public Policy Dynamics (with Samuel Workman, forthcoming). Teaching Interests: Undergraduate: introductory American government, public policy theories and processes, American federal institutions, data analysis and research design; Graduate: subsystem policy making, including agenda setting and implementation; energy policy; bureaucratic politics; information processing and decision making; program evaluation. Email: jobeth_shafran@utexas.edu. Website: www.jobethshafran.com.

Herschel F. Thomas III. American Politics / Public Policy. Thesis: Contagious Agendas: The Spread of Issue Attention in the Policy Process (Jones, Baumgartner, Roberts, Theriault, Wlezien, Workman). My dissertation project is a study of contagion effects in policymaking. I argue that a process of ‘issue contagion’ explains rapid changes in the attention of policy elites as they struggle to attend to an array of pressing issues and problems simultaneously. This contagion process develops as policy elites mimic the behavior of their peers due to inherent cognitive limits and incentives to closely monitor the political environment. Drawing on the methods of computational social science, I build a simulation model of agenda-setting behavior and examine issue contagion through an experiment-like research design. I test the empirical implications of the model by applying it to real-world datasets—from the public statements and press releases of Members of Congress to the disclosed lobbying activity of organized interests. With implications for how scholars interpret large changes in public policy, the core contribution of my project is that patterns in attention to policy issues are a function of a contagion process generated by imitation and cue-taking among elites. Education: Ph.D. Government, University of Texas at Austin (expected May 2015); M.A. Government, University of Texas at Austin (2011); M.A. Political Science, Pennsylvania State University (2009); B.A. Political Science and B.Phil. Information Studies, Pennsylvania State University (2009). Awards: Macdonald Dissertation Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin (2014-2015); Research Grant, The Dirksen Congressional Center (with Timothy M. LaPira, 2014); Research Grant, Edward A. Clark Center for Australia and New Zealand Studies, University of Texas at Austin (2014); Travel Grant, Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (2014); International Travel Grants, J.J. Pickle Chair, University of Texas at Austin (2014, 2013); Nominee for UT Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant Award, Dept. of Government, University of Texas at Austin (2013); Travel Grant, School of Sociology, The Australian National University (2013); Prestige-Cook Travel Award, Southern Political Science Association (2013); Mel Hinich Fellowship, Dept. of Government, University of Texas at Austin (2012); Travel Grant, NSF/University of Michigan (2011); Honorable Mention, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2010); Travel Grant, NSF/University of Washington (2010); Recruitment Fellowship, Graduate School, University of Texas at Austin (2009). Book: Revolving Door Lobbying: Public Service, Private Influence, and the Unequal Representation of Interests (with Timothy M. LaPira, under advance contract with University Press of Kansas). Publications: Interest Groups & Advocacy (with Timothy M. LaPira and Frank R. Baumgartner, 2014); Policy Studies Journal (with Amber E. Boydstun and Shaun Bevan, 2014); Policy Studies Journal (with Bryan D. Jones and Michelle Wolfe, 2014); PS: Political Science and Politics (with Sean T. Theriault, 2014); Interest Groups & Advocacy (with Timothy M. LaPira, 2014); Public Administration (with Darren R. Halpin, 2012); Interest Groups & Advocacy (with Darren R. Halpin, 2012); Journal of Information Technology (with Carleen Maitland and Louis-Marie Ngamassi, 2012); book chapter in American Governance (with Jonathan Lewallen, in press); book chapter in Routledge Handbook of Public Policy (with Bryan D. Jones, 2012). Teaching Interests: Undergraduate: introductory American government, public policy, American national institutions, interest group politics, data analysis and research design; Graduate: organized interests and lobbying, policy processes, agenda-setting, American politics and institutions, research methods, computational modeling. Email: herschelfthomas@gmail.com. Website: www.herschelfthomas.com.

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