Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Ariel David Adesnik - History, Oxford University

Project: The Rebirth of American Democracy Promotion: Carter and Reagan in Central America

Adesnik photo

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Melvyn Leffler, University of Virginia

David Adesnik is Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Initiative.

He focuses on defense and strategy issues. Previously, Adesnik was a visiting fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. For two years, he served as deputy director for Joint Data Support at the U.S. Department of Defense, where he focused on the modeling and simulation of irregular warfare and counterinsurgency. Adesnik also spent several years as research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. In that capacity, he spent several months in Baghdad as an operations research and systems analyst for Multinational Corps–Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2008, he was part of the foreign policy and national security staff for John McCain’s presidential campaign. 

Adesnik's academic interests include the impact of rhetoric on foreign policy, democracy promotion, and Latin America. He received his Ph.D. and Masters of Philosophy from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. His dissertation focused on the Reagan administration’s approach to democracy promotion. David received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia. His work has been published in Foreign Policy, The Weekly Standard, The National Review, The Washington Free Beacon, The Washington Quarterly,, and The Daily Caller. David has served as a commentator on several cable television networks and radio programs.

Selected Recent Publications

"The Logic of American Exceptionalism.The Journal of International Security Affairs, no. 26 (Spring/Summer 2014).

"Rand Paul Sees No Threat From Terrorist Safe Havens In Iraq.Forbes, June 20, 2014.

"O’s Counterterrorism Fund.National Review Online, June 4, 2014.

Emily Brunner - History, University of Chicago

Project: Irish-American Nationalists and the Dilemmas of National Belonging

Brunner photo

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Timothy Meagher, Catholic University of America

Emily Brunner is Senior Academic Advisor at the University of Iowa.

Her scholarly interests include American Progressive reform, Irish nationalism, and the problem of state power in the post-World War I era. She received the O'Shaughnessy Award for her research topic, "Irish American Nationalists and the Dilemma of National Allegiance: 1910–24" from the University of Chicago Department of History.

Brunner's dissertation examined how Irish nationalist leaders responded to changing ideas about citizenship and how they contributed to the debate about what it meant to be a member of a state and a nation. She began with an exploration of the conditions during this period that made it more difficult for Irish-Americans to claim to be both Irish and American. Next Brunner discussed the debate over the boundaries of legitimate dissent while examining the connections between Irish-American nationalism and the global feminist movement, analyzing ways in which Irish nationalist women employed global feminist networks to access and sway audiences that might otherwise have been hostile to their cause.

Selected Recent Publications

"Coaching pre-medical students towards professionalism." with Kate Karacay. Clearinghouse, 2013.

Jenny Diamond Cheng - Political Science, University of Michigan

Project: Are Children Citizens?: The Minimum Voting Age and Liberal Democratic Citizenship

Cheng photo

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Carol Sanger, Columbia Law School

Jenny Diamond Cheng is a Lecturer in Law at Vanderbilt University’s Law School.

Cheng's research focuses on the intersection of law and political theory. Her doctoral dissertation addressed the question: Given their disenfranchisement, to what extent does it still make sense to think of children as "citizens"? Her research focused on political discussions of the minimum voting age from 1942 to the present. The decades in and after World War II witnessed a quiet but persistent movement to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18, which gathered steam in the late 1960s and culminated with the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971. A close reading of the debates about the voting age over the last six decades reveals competing ideas about the meaning of the franchise and profound confusion about children's place in the polity. In her dissertation, Cheng explored the theoretical links between voting, military service, and education while additionally examining how advocates for lower voting ages have sought to frame youth as the natural heirs to the women's suffrage and African-American civil rights movements.

Selected Recent Publications

"Leave the Voting Age Alone.New York Times, 28 May 2012.

Shane Hamilton - Social Studies of Science and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Project: Trucking Country: Food Politics and the Transformation of Rural Life in Postwar America

Hamilton photo

Shane Hamilton is Lecturer in International Business and Strategy at the York Management School

The History News Network selected him in 2008 as a "Top Young Historian."

Hamilton's dissertation traced the efforts of state and federal agricultural experts, cooperating with food processors and supermarkets, to create the postwar marketing machine. Emerging from an effort to contain the political controversies surrounding New Dealism in agriculture, this marketing machine sought to eliminate economic uncertainties (such as seasonal and regional variations in production, or potential strikes from unionized workers) from the food distribution chain. According to postwar USDA economists, policymakers, and engineers, the rationalization of food marketing could effectively keep commodity prices high for farmers, without production controls, while consumer food prices remained steady. Industrial farms, high-tech food processors, and suburban supermarkets, by practicing economies of scale and by using the latest technologies – from pesticides on farms to forklifts in cold-storage warehouses – thus emerged as part of a political effort to solve the decades-old "farm problem" by reducing the cost of moving food from farms to consumers. Ultimately, Hamilton hypothesized trucks were political technologies, used to define the contours of public policy regarding foods and farmers.

Selected Recent Publications

The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford-St. Martin's Press, 2014).

"Agribusiness, the Family Farm, and the Politics of Technological Determinism in the Post-World War II United States.Technology & Culture (July 2014).

"Supermarkets, Free Markets, and the Problem of Buyer Power in the Postwar United States." in What's Good for Business: Business and Politics since World War II, ed. Julian Zelizer and Kim Phillips-Fein (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Chris Loss - Higher Education and History, University of Virginia

Project: From Democracy to Diversity: The Transformation of American Higher Education from World War I through the Cold War

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Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Julie Reuben, Harvard University

Chris Loss is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education and Professor of History, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, at Vanderbilt University.

Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt University, Loss was a research fellow in the Governance Studies Program at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He also worked in academic administration for four years in the Office of the Vice President and Provost at the University of Virginia. Loss holds doctorates in higher education and in history from the University of Virginia.

Professor Loss specializes in twentieth-century American history with an emphasis on the social, political, and policy history of American higher education. He has most recently co-edited a publication with former Miller Center fellow, Patrick McGuinn, a publication, The Convergence of K-12 and Higher Education (2016.) His scholarship has appeared in the Journal of American History, the Journal of Policy HistorySocial Science History, the History of Education Quarterly, and the Journal of the History of Psychology, among others. From 2010-12 Loss was a fellow on the Teagle Foundation’s National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. In 2012-13 Loss was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Presently, Loss is working on a new book project, Front and Center: Academic Expertise and its Challengers in the Post-1945 United States, which explores the rise of interdisciplinary centers and the growing jurisdiction of experts in U.S. politics and public policy in modern America.

Selected Recent Publications

The Convergence of K-12 and Higher Education (Harvard Education Press, 2016)

Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press, 2011).

The Institutionalization of In Loco Parentis after Gott v. Berea College (1913).Teachers College Record 16, no. 12 (December 2014)

"The Land-Grant Colleges, Cooperative Extension, and the New Deal."in Roger L. Geiger and Nathan M. Sorber, eds. Perspectives on the History of Higher Education: The Land-Grant Colleges and the Reshaping of American Higher Education 30 (2013): 285-310.

"From Pluralism to Diversity: Reassessing the Political Uses of the Uses of the University.Social Science History 35, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 525-49.

Mary Christina Michelmore - History, University of Michigan

Project: With the First Penny Paid: Welfare Reform, Tax Policy and Political Change, 1960–1980

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Molly Michelmore is Associate Professor of History at Washington and Lee University.

Michelmore's research interests lie in 20th century American politics, and specifically in the relationship between fiscal policy, the politics of taxing and spending, and content of post-New Deal liberalism. She explored these concepts in her first book Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics and the Limits of American Liberalism.

Michelmore's dissertation placed the "Reagan Revolution" in historical context by studying the politics of welfare reform and tax policy between 1960 and 1980. Ronald Reagan's 1980 election represented the culmination of a decade-old re-evaluation of national political priorities, the result of which was a political settlement centrally concerned with the costs of the liberal state.

Her dissertation explores how and why "welfare" grew from a policy problem of interest to only a small group of experts into an issue of national political importance, and examines the era's larger political, economic and social changes. Examining social and fiscal policies considered or enacted between 1967 and 1980, Michelmore's dissertation analyzed the process by which taxes and welfare became two sides of the same coin and were politicized to an unprecedented extent in the 1970s. Specifically, she argued that both welfare and taxes became important weapons in the arsenal of the conservative attack on the state and its reification of the market, that the politics and policies of welfare reform played a significant role in the rise of conservatism and the repudiation of the postwar liberal paradigm.

Selected Recent Publications

"Why the income tax is worth celebrating." Washington Post Opinions, February 17, 2013.

Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics and the Limits of American Liberalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).

"'What Have You Done for Me Lately?': The Welfare State, Tax Politics and the Search for a New Majority, 1968-1980." Journal of Policy History 24, no. 4 (October 2012): 709-740.

"Don't Just Blame the Republicans for the No-Tax Pledge -- Democrats are Allergic to Tax Hikes, Too." History News Network, July 9, 2012.

Jon Shields - Political Science, University of Virginia

Project: The Democratic Virtues of Christian Right Activism

Shields photo

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: James Wilson

Jon Shields is Associate Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College.

Shields's research interests include Christianity and democracy; social movements; and the politics of bioethics. 

Shields's dissertation focuses on the portrait of democratic education in Christian politics being principally complicated by the demands of political mobilization. That is, Christian leaders often need to mobilize apathetic or uninvolved citizens through more passionate exhortations before these deliberative norms can be taught at all. In fact, the culture war rhetoric that many scholars find so rampant in American politics is actually most commonly found in the context of mobilization. Shields argues that once Christian leaders have mobilized citizens, most then labor diligently to moderately and inform the passions they have provoked by encouraging activists to embrace deliberative norms before they practice public advocacy. He hypothesizes that this organizational tension, moreover, between the exigencies of mobilization and successful public activism highlights a deeper tension that democratic theorists need to confront between the ideals of a participatory and deliberative democracy.

Selected Recent Publications

The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right (Princeton University Press, 2009).

Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University. with Joshua M. Dunn (Oxford University Press, 2016).

The Real Campus Sexual Assault Problem—and How to Fix It.” with Bradford Richardson. Commentary, October 1 2015.

"Fighting Liberalism's Excesses: Moral Crusades During the Reagan Revolution." Journal of Policy History 26, no. 1 (2014).

Justin Wert - Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Project: The Not-So-Great Writ: Habeas Corpus & American Political Development

Wert photo

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University

Justin Wert is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma

His research interests include Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, American Political Development and American Political Thought. 

In Wert's dissertation, he analyzed the institutional development of Habeas Corpus law in four time periods: ante-bellum slave law; Reconstruction; the 20th century debates over the applicability ("Incorporation") of the Bill of Rights to the states; and habeas corpus during war, particularly the current prosecution of the "War on Terror." The writ of habeas corpus – "The most important human right in the Constitution" according to Zecharia Chafee – must be re-examined in the 21st century according to its etymological roots. Wert argued that habeas corpus has always been inextricably linked to shifting notions of American citizenship, moving from state to national, and then again to state conceptions of citizenship, with the respect to meaningful access to the "Great Writ." The origins of this divide can be found in the enduring, yet shifting, conceptions of state versus national citizenship in the American state.

Selected Recent Publications

Habeas Corpus in America: The Politics of Individual Rights (University Press of Kansas, 2011).

The Rise and Fall of the Voting Rights Act. with Charles S. Bullock, III & Keith Gaddie (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)

"Benedick v. Beatrice: Citizens United and the Reign of the Laggard Court." with Charles S. Bullock and Ronald Keith Gaddie, Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy (Spring 2011).

With a Little Help from a Friend: Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta After Runnymede.” PS: Political Science and Politics (2010)

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