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

Michael Fein - History, Brandeis University

Project: Public Works: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956

Fein photo

Michael Fein is an Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences and an Associate Professor of History at Johnson & Wales University.

Fein's dissertation led to Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956 (Kansas University, 2008), which won the Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Research from the New York State Archives. Fein has also published a collaborative work with Professor David Moss at the Harvard Business School. 

Fein's dissertation, "Public Works: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880–1956," examined the link between infrastructure and political development. The project used New York State as a case study to explore the expansion of state capacity, providing a historical perspective on the development of New York's massive public works program, from the paving of the first state roads to the construction of the Thruway. In so doing, Fein shed light on the ways in which public construction helped to reconfigure landscapes and communities, as well as political and economic structures. From that study, he drew important insights on a vital question in policy history: How have the units of the state addressed modern problems that are national in scope but local in implementation?

Selected Recent Publications

Paving the Way: New York Road Building and the American State, 1880-1956 (University Press of Kansas, 2008)

Tunnel Vision: ‘Invisible’ Highways and Boston’s ‘Big Dig’ in the Age of Privatization." Journal of Planning History 11, no. 1 (2008): 47-69.


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).


Sarah Seo - History, Princeton University

Project: The Fourth Amendment, Cars, and Freedom in Twentieth-Century America

Seo photo

Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: David Sklansky, Stanford Law School

Seo has been selected as the Charles W. McCurdy Fellow in Legal History.

Most scholars have explained the development of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence in the twentieth century as an enduring struggle to limit the police’s discretionary authority to protect individual rights. But by beginning her inquiry with the automobile in American society—one of the most contested sites of the Fourth Amendment, yet the least studied—Seo’s show that the evolution in the law of searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment reflected the more difficult challenge of accommodating the police within the meaning of freedom itself. The mass production of the automobile created the greatest urban disorder at the turn of the century, and the state’s power to regulate the social chaos of the automotive society increasingly encompassed a proactive, discretionary form of policing. Seo’s project traces the implications of this shift in governance from nineteenth-century self-regulation to twentieth-century policing through Fourth Amendment car search-and-seizure cases. By prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, the Fourth Amendment governed the first point of encounters between individuals and the police. And in the twentieth century, most of those encounters happened in the context of a traffic stop. Car stops and searches thus offer an important perspective not only on how the citizen-police relationship has evolved, but also on how Americans have wrestled with the paradox of discretionary policing in a society committed to the rule of law. Ultimately, the resolution entailed a change in what it meant to live in a free society. 


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