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

Francesca Ammon - American Studies, Yale University

Project: Waging War on the Landscape: Demolition and Clearance in Postwar America

Ammon photo

Francesca Ammon is Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Professor Ammon is an historian of the built environment. Her teaching, research, and writing focus on the changing shapes and spaces of the 20th- and 21st-century American city. She grounds her interdisciplinary approach to this subject in the premise that the landscape materializes social relations, cultural values, and economic processes. In particular, Professor Ammon is interested in the ways that visual culture informs planning and design, the dynamic relationships between cities and nature, the politics of place and space, and the roles of business and the state in shaping the physical landscape.

Professor Ammon is currently a colloquium member of the Penn/Mellon Foundation Humanities + Urbanism + Design Initiative. She is on the board of the Society for American City & Regional Planning History (SACRPH). Before joining the PennDesign faculty, Professor Ammon was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She has also held the Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship, jointly sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). While completing her Ph.D. in American Studies, she held a fellowship as a Whiting Fellow in the Humanities and was the John E. Rovensky Fellow with the Business History Conference.

Professor Ammon was the 2010-2011 Miller Center Ambrose Monell Foundation Fellow in Technology and Democracy.

Selected Recent Publications

“Post-Industrialization and the City of Consumption: Attempted Revitalization in Asbury Park, New Jersey.” Journal of Urban History 41. no. 2 (March 2015): 158-174.

“Unearthing Benny the Bulldozer: The Culture of Clearance in Postwar Children’s Books.” Technology and Culture 53, no. 2 (April 2012): 306-336.


Sarah S. Bush - Politics, Princeton University

Project: The Democracy Establishment

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Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: Miles Kahler, University of California, San Diego

Sarah Bush is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Temple University

Bush is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Temple University. Prior to starting at Temple, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. I received my Ph.D. from Princeton University in November 2011.

Her research and teaching interests include international relations, democracy promotion, non-state actors in world politics, gender and human rights policy, and Middle East politics. Her book, which is forthcoming at Cambridge University Press, explores how how and why the United States and other developed countries turned to democracy promotion at the end of the Cold War and what the impact of doing so has been. The book combines large-N analysis of new and existing data sets of democracy assistance projects with case studies that draw on field research in Jordan and Tunisia. Other ongoing projects examine the effects of American democracy promotion on public attitudes in the Middle East. Her previous research has been published or is forthcoming in the journals International Organization and International Studies Quarterly.

Selected Recent Publications

The Taming of Democracy Assistance: Why Democracy Promotion does not Confront Dictators (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Anti-Americanism, Authoritarian Regimes, and Attitudes about Women in Politics: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Jordan.” with Amaney Jamal. International Studies Quarterlyol 59, no. 1 (2015): 34-45.
"International Politics and the Spread of Quotas for Women in Legislatures.International Organization 65, no. 1 (2011): 103-137.


Merlin Chowkwanyun - History and Public Health, University of Pennsylvania

Project: The Dilemmas of 'Community Health': 1945-2000

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Merlin Chowkwanyun is Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and a member of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health.

Chowkwanyun’s work centers on three themes: the history of public health and health policy; racial inequality; and social movements. He is working on a book examining the development of post-WWII medical care and environmental health hazards in four regions (Los Angeles, Cleveland, Central Appalachia, and New York) and another about political unrest at medical schools and neighborhood health activism during the 1960s and 1970s. With Adolph Reed, he is writing an essay collection that questions the dominant theoretical assumptions and frames in disparities research (under contract with the University of California Press). With the Center for Public Integrity, he is part of a group of environmental health journalists and historians on a database featuring millions of previously unseen corporate documents that have emerged in recent environmental health lawsuits. He teaches courses on health advocacy and mixed methods.

Selected Recent Publications

"Q&A with Pau Gasol: The NBA All-Star's Health Advocacy Off-the-Court," Culture of Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, April 20, 2015.

"Grassroots Isn't Always Best." Boston Review, February 23, 2015.

"We keep pledging to study the cause of riots like Ferguson’s. And we keep ignoring the lessons." The Washington Post, August 18, 2014.

"Training Historians and the Dual Degree." Chronicle of Higher Education, January 28, 2014.


Kyle M. Lascurettes - Politics, University of Virginia

Project: Orders of Exclusion: The Strategic Sources of International Orders and Great Power Ordering

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Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: John Ikenberry, Princeton University

Kyle Lascurettes is Assistant Professor of International Affairs at Lewis & Clark College.

Lascurettes received his Ph.D. from the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia in 2012.  His research is in the areas of international security and international organization, and his interests include the strategic use of ideas in international relations, psychology and world politics, the intersection of trade and interstate conflict, and how states and statesmen learn from history in global affairs.

Lascurettes' dissertation was awarded the American Political Science Association Kenneth N. Waltz Prize for best dissertation in the field of international security and arms control.  The project sought to explain the preferences of great powers for establishing or reestablishing order in the international system, here defined as a set of established, foundational rules accepted by a significant number of important actors at a given time. He argues that powerful states most often advocate visions of order that will weaken or discredit the entity they find most threatening to their preferred vision of order, be it another powerful state, an ideological movement or a transnational network. If successful, they are thus able to create an order premised on weakening, opposing and above all excluding this threat from reaping the benefits of stable international order. The project is macro-historical in scope and analyzes a broad set of cases to elucidate general patterns of preferences for order from the advent of the modern state system through the American Century to the present.


Quinn Mulroy - Politics, Columbia University

Project: Private Litigation, Public Policy Enforcement: The Regulatory Power of Private Litigation and the American Bureaucracy

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Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: Dan Carpenter, Harvard University

Quinn Mulroy is Assistant Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University

Mulroy received a Ph.D. in American Politics from Columbia University where she worked with Ira Katznelson. She received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley in 2001.

She studies American politics, with a substantive focus on race and labor policy, the legal system, and regulatory agencies and a methodological interest in combining historical and quantitative approaches to research. Her current research project investigates the role of private power, particularly that supplied by private litigation, in the American regulatory state, and uses archival and statistical work to explore how and under what conditions regulatory agencies motivate private actors to engage in litigation that advances regulatory goals. Her work has appeared in Studies in American Political Development ("The Rise and Decline of Presidential Populism" (October 2004), co-authored with Terri Bimes, University of California-Berkeley), and she is a researcher with the American Institutions Project (under Ira Katznelson and John Lapinski) at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia. Her research interests include American political development, public policy, political institutions, the courts and litigation, bureaucracy, Congress, and race and labor policy.

Her dissertation examined the role of private power, particularly that supplied by private litigation, in the American regulatory state. While traditional accounts suggest that the progressive regulatory state that came into being over the course of the extended New Deal and Great Society periods is weak when compared to its counterparts abroad, Mulroy's research builds on a revisionist strain within the APD literature which identifies strategies by which a lean liberal state can achieve impressive regulatory results. Through a historical analysis of the development of the regulatory capacity of several agencies, she argued that constrained agencies may look outside themselves, and their formally granted administrative powers, for enforcement power by developing incentive structures that encourage private actors to engage in litigation that advances regulatory goals. She found that variation in the use of this alternate source of regulatory power by agencies can be explained by factors related to an agency's institutional development and formation, but also that the character, scope, and activation of this pathway of enforcement over time is contingent upon political and temporal considerations. By reconsidering how to integrate informal mechanisms of enforcement, like agency-motivated private litigation, into theories of bureaucratic regulation, her project aimed to contribute to our practical understanding of 'day-to-day' agency behavior and to our conceptions and assessments of state capacity, more broadly.

Selected Recent Publications

Was the South Pivotal? Situated Partisanship and Policy Coalitions during the New Deal and Fair Deal.” with Ira Katznelson, Journal of Politics 74, no. 2 (April 2012): 604-620.


Jonathan Renshon - Government, Harvard University

Project: Fighting for Status: Prestige Motivations and Conflict in World Politics

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Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: William Wohlforth, Dartmouth College

Jonathan Renshon is Trice Faculty Scholar and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Renshon received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University in 2012. The focus of his research lies at the intersection of the psychology of judgment and decision-making and international security. His work has appeared in Political Psychology, Foreign Policy and Journal of Conflict Resolution. He is also a researcher in the Emotion and Decision-Making Group at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory.

The purpose of his dissertation is to investigate how the concern for status and prestige affects states’ decisions in the domain of international security. There is widespread agreement, both within the political science discipline and the foreign policy community, that status matters, though very little in the way of focused research on how and when it does so. This has left us with two significant gaps in our understanding of how status affects national security and foreign policy behavior. Firstly, and most importantly, our understanding of status in international politics has been guided thus far by intuition, not by evidence. Furthermore, relying on the assumption that "status matters" has left us with no extant theory of variation in states’ concern for status or understanding of its specific implications for foreign policy or international conflict. What is needed—and what his research is designed to provide—is an investigation into the systematic ways in which the desire to increase or prevent the loss of status affects the behavior of states, especially as these concerns relate to the propensity for violent conflict.

Selected Recent Publications

"Status Deficits and War." International Organization (Forthcoming: June 22, 2016) 

"Emotions and the Micro-Foundations of Commitment Problems." with Jooa Julia Lee and Dustin Tingley, International Organization (June 2, 2016)

"The Interaction of Testosterone and Cortisol Is Associated With Attained Status in Male Executives." with Gary D. Sherman et al. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2015)

"Physiological Arousal and Political Beliefs." with Julia J. Lee and Dustin Tingley, Political Psychology 36, no. 5 (2015): 569-585.


Katherine Unterman - History, Yale University

Project: Nowhere to Hide: International Rendition and American Power

Unterman photo

Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: Elizabeth Cobbs, Stanford UniversityTexas A&M University

Katherine Unterman is Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University.

Katherine Unterman received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2011. She also holds a Masters in Legal Studies from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from Harvard University. Dr. Unterman began teaching at Texas A&M University in Fall 2011. She specializes in 19th century U.S. history, American foreign relations, and legal history. Her book manuscript, Nowhere to Hide: International Fugitives and American Power, examines the history of international manhunts and the pursuit of fugitive criminals.

Covering the 1850s through the 1930s, Unterman's dissertation chronicled the international rendition of fugitives as both a set of practices that reached American power across borders, and the cultural ideas that justified it. With extensive research on extradition, international law, and criminology, she traces the evolving mechanics of international manhunts—the treaties, technologies, and procedures that enabled American law to reach beyond its borders. Equally important, she also analyzes jurisdiction as discourse: a set of ideas and representations of a shrinking world, where someone who broke American law had nowhere to hide. She argues that law needs to be considered alongside military and economic power as a tool of U.S. informal imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century. Bridging domestic and international history, she explains how Americans downplayed the question of other nations' sovereignty by treating international policing as a matter of maintaining law and order at home. These late-nineteenth-century precedents were eventually institutionalized by government agencies like the FBI and DEA, and have even been used to justify the practice of extraordinary rendition today.

Selected Recent Publications

Uncle Sam’s Policemen: The Pursuit of Fugitives Across Borders. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015)

Boodle over the Border: Embezzlement and the Crisis of International Mobility, 1880-1890.Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 11, no. 2 (April 2012).


James G. Wilson - History, University of Virginia

Project: Bolts from the Blue: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the End of the Cold War

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James Graham Wilson is a Historian at the U.S. Department of State.

He received his B.A. from Vassar College in 2003, and subsequently worked as a research assistant to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. He has presented portions of his dissertation in Rome, Geneva, Cologne, and Amsterdam, and has received the U.Va Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Humanities & Social Sciences as well as the U.Va Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Recent articles have appeared in Diplomacy and Statecraft, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of American Studies.

James's first book, The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev's Adaptability, Reagan's Engagement, and the End of the Cold War was published by Cornell University Press in 2013.  It was based upon his dissertation, which drew upon fresh archival evidence that illuminates decision-making in Washington and Moscow during the last ten years of the Cold War. It contends that policymakers neither formulated a strategy for victory nor even articulated what victory meant—at least until the Berlin Wall crumbled in November 1989; that the revolutions of 1989-1990 were made possible by broad historical forces such as changes in the international economy and the nascent information age; and that the twilight struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union ended peacefully because of Gorbachev's devotion to new thinking, new faces, and the Soviet leader's (ill-founded) belief that he could reconfigure communism to adapt to a new era.

Selected Recent Publications

"Key Figures at the End of the Cold War." C-Span Discussion, April 28, 2014.

The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev's Adaptability, Reagan's Engagement, and the End of the Cold War (Cornell University Press, 2013)


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