Announcing CAPS Fellows, 2022-23

May 19, 2022



The Center for American Political Studies (CAPS) is pleased to announce the launch of a new Fellows Program. The first five CAPS Fellows are drawn from incoming and current Harvard graduate students, from multiple disciplines, whose focus of study is American politics. This program will provide research funding, research assistance (RA) support, conference support, and mentoring to the Fellows. Their appointment as Fellows is for the length of their time as graduate students.

We expect the Fellows to become integral members of a leading intellectual home for the study of American politics. We hope being part of the CAPS community will provide exciting opportunities for engagement with their fellow scholars at Harvard and beyond. Please join us in welcoming them!

CAPS Fellows:

Marco Mendoza Avina
Social Policy

I am interested in immigration and inequality through the lens of public opinion, and I occasionally wander into electoral studies. In my current work, I try to bridge theories in political economy and racial and ethnic politics using survey research and experimental methods. During my PhD, I hope to delve into these issues in a comparative perspective and at the local level.

Phoebe Cai

I am a 4th-year PhD student in the economics department. I am interested in the interaction of behavioral biases, technological change, and political belief formation — current experimental work studies the role of memory in generating misperceptions of partisan positions. Other projects include a study of the impact of the 1980s farm crisis on American farmers’ political beliefs, and an experiment probing potential negative productivity consequences of automation.

Aidan Connaughton

My main research interests are in civic engagement and non-voting political behavior, such as attending city planning meetings, organizing ballot initiatives, volunteering for local boards, etc. I plan to study how the long-term decline in civic engagement and social trust has affected outcomes for state and local policymaking and how and why states and municipalities have taken action to revitalize civic engagement.

Kiran Misra

I am interested in the carceral state and criminalization in America, specifically how the political process and political interests, rather than policy outcomes, drive criminal justice policymaking. My research interest in the criminal legal system as a site of political contestation stems from my experience working in courts and jails as an investigator at the Public Defender Service of Washington DC, a researcher at the Illinois Justice Project, and a policy analyst at the Cook County Sheriff's Justice Institute.

Julius Wilson
Social Policy

I am broadly interested in government institutions and how they function. I hope to apply mixed-methods approaches to study how institutions structure incentives and constraints for actors, how institutional objectives get defined and redefined, and how institutional resources and expertise are marshaled toward those ends, with the goal of better understanding how various institutional arrangements serve to perpetuate or remediate social inequality.


Made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, CAPS offers Dissertation Research Fellowships on the Study of the American Republic. Eligible applications must contain dissertation topics with a direct engagement with the history, principles, and politics of the American Republic.

CAPS Study of the American Republic Fellows, 2022-23:

Matthew Brooke

The Deep Roots of Modern Right-wing Media?
My dissertation investigates why right-wing media has become so influential in US politics. Existing research on conservative media typically focuses on recent US history. By contrast, using comparative historical methods and original data, I investigate whether the US's distinctive commercial broadcasting system contributed to the local and regional origins of conservative media in the late 1950s, gradually giving rise to a powerful right-wing media universe.

Sarah Sadlier

Native American Lawyering in the Courts of the Conqueror, 1967-2020
This study's overarching question is: how have Native American lawyers strategized about advocating for tribal sovereignty in the "courts of the conqueror"? This fellowship will support my research at the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado and drafting chapters based on those archival findings.