The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Past Fellows: Spotlight

Phillip Allen (UT ’18), 2018-2019

Is the Roberts Court more pro-business compared to its predecessors? Many legal commentators and scholars believe so, drawing this conclusion from, for example, the success rate of business litigants, the success rate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when the organization files a brief, and alleged pro-business rulings on various legal issues.

Phillip’s project addressed the question from an agenda-setting perspective —specifically, he examined what types of cases for which the Roberts Court granted certiorari. He argued that he Roberts Court granted certiorari to a greater proportion of cases in the “Business” macro-category (PAP Topics 5, 15, & 17), and to a smaller proportion of cases from the “Law & Crime” macro-category (PAP Topics 9 & 12). See his final poster here

Sydney Mike-Mayer (UT ’19), 2018-2019

In an attempt to successfully pass a comprehensive healthcare bill, the federal government resolved to allow for states to variably opt out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Undoubtedly, this decision meant higher coverage rates for citizens of states who chose to opt in, however, did this decision lead to an increase in healthcare usage?

Sydney’s project hypothesized that states who chose to fully opt in to the Affordable Care Act will not only see an increase in coverage greater than those states who opted out, but, also, an increase in healthcare usage. See her final poster here.

Elliot Morris (UT ’18), 2018-2019 

What do “liberal” and “conservative” mean to Americans? Is ideological identification a glob of policy preferences, or do voters draw upon amalgamations of policy preferences and social identity to categorize their beliefs? Drawing on research both recent and classis, Elliot formulated a model to incorporate various explanations of ideological self-identification. See his final poster here.

Emily Nguyen (UT ’19), 2018-2019

How has the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) evolved over time? And, how do presidents influence that evolution? In her project, Emily argued that a positive relationship exists between the amount of attention a president dedicates to education policy in their State of the Union address and the proportion of keywords pertaining to educational excellence in their respective ESEA reauthorization. See her final poster here.

Jacob Peña (UT ’18), 2018-2019

Provided the United States’ aging infrastructure and recent water crises such as Flint, Michigan, it is important to examine the compliance of drinking water districts. The EPA sets regulations for water quality as per the Safe Drinking Water Act, and thus maintains compliance data for these districts. In Texas, drinking water is managed by special purpose districts (SPDs), which are autonomous entities created by state statute, and general law districts (GLDs) such as the City of Houston. Harris County is a sufficient target for this study as it serves approximately 99 percent of its population through SPDs and general law districts (GLDs).

In response, Jacob’s project hypothesized that SPDs are more effective than GLDs, as they will be more compliant with EPA standards than in Harris County, and provides evidence to support this. See his final poster here.

Mariadela Villegas (UT ’18), 2018-2019

Has the Austin City Council adapted their operations and actions to better serve minority populations? The Austin City Council changed their format from that of a six-member council to a one-member-per-district council in 2014.

Mariadela’s project focused on the impact of the change in the format of the council on the issues being discussed by the council. She hypothesized that following the format change, the Council would increasingly attend to issues that impact minority populations (specifically, the African American, Hispanic, and disabled populations of Austin). See her final poster here.

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