The Policy Research Group (PRG) is a bi-monthly, interdisciplinary working group for scholars to present and solicit feedback on current research relevant to public policy, broadly defined. Presenters give a talk that lasts approximately 35 minutes, followed by about 25 minutes of question and answer time. The presentations may be on research at different stages of completion. While most presentations will present relatively polished work, some presentations may be research designs or projects in progress. Presenters are encouraged to circulate a draft of the research on which the presentation is based prior to the presentation. While PRG participants are primarily graduate students and faculty in Public Policy, all members of the university community are welcome to attend.


If you would like to receive email notifications and reminders about upcoming talks, email Rebecca Kreitzer to join the PRG listserv.


Location: 102 Abernethy, from 3-4pm unless otherwise noted


Fall 2018

September 7: Erika Wilson

Erika K. Wilson is the Reef C. Ivey II Term Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her areas of expertise include civil litigation, civil rights, education and school reform, public policy, and race discrimination. She currently teaches Civil Lawyering Process and the Civil Clinic.

Professor Wilson’s research interests focus on issues related to education law and policy, specifically obtaining educational equality for disadvantaged students, and the intersection between race and the law. Her articles have appeared in the Cornell Law Review, UCLA Law Review, and Michigan Journal of Law Reform, among various others. In 2016, her work was selected for presentation at the Harvard Yale Stanford Junior Faculty Forum. In 2017, she was awarded the James H. Chadbourn Award for Excellence in Scholarship from the UNC School of Law.

Prior to joining the UNC faculty in 2012, Professor Wilson was a Teaching Fellow at the University of Baltimore. She previously worked as an associate at Arnold & Porter LLP, where she litigated complex commercial cases involving antitrust, copyright infringement and product liability issues. Professor Wilson also served as the George N. Lindsay Fellow for the Education Project at the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law where she engaged in a broad range of litigation and law reform projects involving school desegregation, the No Child Left Behind Act, special education, school discipline and federal funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Professor Wilson received her B.A. in public policy from the University of Southern California, cum laude and her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.


September 21: Corrine McConnaughy

Professor McConnaughy is Visiting Associate Professor of Public Policy and Associate Professor of Political Science, The George Washington University.  Her research interests are in identity politics, focusing primarily on the roles race and gender play in American politics, and in the development of political institutions.  She also has research and teaching interests in methodology, particularly in the design of social science research for causal inference.  Her work in these areas has appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Studies in American Political Development and American Politics Research.  She is author of a book on the partisan and coalitional politics of women’s voting rights, entitled The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment (Cambridge, 2013).  Other current research projects include a study of the role of gender identity in shaping the gender gap and a joint study with Ismail White on the intersection of race and gender in Americans’ political attitudes.


October 5: Joe Soss, hosted in partnership with the American Politics Research Group, Hamilton 271

Professor Joe Soss is the inaugural Cowles Chair for the Study of Public Service at the University of Minnesota, where he holds faculty positions in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of Sociology. His research and teaching explore the interplay of democratic politics, socioeconomic inequalities, and public policy. He is particularly interested in the political sources and consequences of policies that govern social marginality and shape life conditions for socially marginal groups. Joe Soss is the author of Unwanted Claims: The Politics of Participation in the U.S. Welfare System (2000), co-editor of Race and the Politics of Welfare Reform (2003), co-editor of Remaking America: Democracy and Public Policy in an Age of Inequality (2007), and author or co-author of numerous scholarly articles. His most recent book is Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race (University of Chicago Press, 2011), co-authored with Richard C. Fording and Sanford F. Schram. In 2010, he received the campus-wide Outstanding Faculty Award from the University of Minnesota’s Council of Graduate Students (COGS). Professor Soss also holds faculty positions in the Department of Sociology and the Department of Political Science.


October 26: Maryann Feldman

Maryann P. Feldman is the Heninger Distinguished Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina. Her research and teaching interests focus on the areas of innovation, the commercialization of academic research and the factors that promote technological change and economic growth. A large part of Dr. Feldman’s work concerns the geography of innovation – investigating the reasons why innovation clusters spatially and the mechanisms that support and sustain industrial clusters. Her dissertation, which was subsequently published as a book, was entitled the Geography of Innovation. The work examined the spatial distribution of industrial innovation and provided an empirical model of the factors and resources that affected the production of new product innovation.

Currently Feldman is actively engaged in researching the industrial genesis of the Research Triangle region, in a joint project with Nichola Lowe.  The project follows the development of the regional economy over a 50 year time period using a unique database of entrepreneurial ventures and attempts to understand the institutional dynamics that created a vibrant regional economy. This work provides a replicable template for integrating large datasets to use in the study of regional economies.


November 2: Practice Job Talks, 3:00-4:30pm

Averi Chakrabarti

Averi is from Kolkata, India where she studied Political Science (at Presidency College) and International Relations (at Jadavpur University). Subsequently, she obtained a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. While in school, Averi gained exposure to anti-sex trafficking efforts, refugee resettlement and microfinance through various internships. Before coming to UNC, Averi spent two years working with the South Asia branch of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Her research interests are in development economics, with a focus on human capital and gender issues.


Paul Treacy

Before beginning work on his Ph.D. in 2014, Paul Treacy earned a bachelors degree from Rice University, a masters of industrial and labor relations from Cornell University, and a masters of public policy from Georgetown University.

His professional experience includes six years at the U.S. Labor Department, where he contributed writing, research, and economic analysis to federal rules published by the agency.  He also completed details at the Office of Management and Budget, the Labor Department’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Institute for the Study of International Migration.

Paul’s past research experience and continued academic interests are related to labor markets, employment policy, and immigration. He is currently a Royster Fellow at the University of North Carolina, was a Citicorp Fellow at Cornell University, and an MBA Fellow at the Labor Department.​


November 30: Erica Fields

Professor of Economics at Duke University, Field’s major fields of interests are development economics, labor economics, economic demography, and health. Specifically, her research focuses on the areas of marriage and family, property rights, global health, and finance and entrepreneurship. She has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative, and the Harvard Sustainability Science Program, among others. She has published work in various journals, including the American Economics Journal and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Her research regularly takes her out of the U.S., and she is currently working on projects that explore adolescent empowerment and education in Bangladesh, the effects of microfinance on women and households in South Asia and India, and the impacts of access to family planning resources on fertility and health in Zambia.


Date TBA: Practice Job Talks, 3:00-4:30pm

Emily Nwakpuda

Emily is a former chemist, peace corps volunteer, and public administrator.  She has trained as a mixed methods researcher and her work looks broadly at the economic and social benefits produced by scientific innovations. Her three paper dissertation contributes to the literature on science policy and innovation policy, by considering the impact of high net worth philanthropy on the funding of academic science.  Each of her dissertation papers uses a different methodology and develops original data.  Her work has been funded by the Sloan Foundation and the National Science Foundation.  Emily will graduate May 2019.

Ghazal Dezfuli

Ghazal Dezfuli is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and government from Bowdoin College and a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Chicago. Previously, she worked as a consultant at the World Bank. Her research interests include civil conflicts, peace processes, armed groups, and political institutions in fragile states.



Previous Speakers

Spring 2018

January 19: Dan Gitterman

Daniel Gitterman is the Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill. He serves as Chair of the UNC Department of Public Policy, and Director of the Honors Seminar in Public Policy and Global Affairs (Washington, DC). Gitterman’s research interests include: the American Presidency and public policy; education and labor markets; American welfare state and politics of social and health policy, and globalization and labor standards. Professor Gitterman received a B.A. from Connecticut College, an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an A.M. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Brown University. Gitterman was an Exchange Scholar at the Harvard University Ph.D. program in Health Policy and completed a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley.


February 2: Ipsita Das

Ipsita Das earned a Bachelors degree in Sociology (Honors) from Miranda House, University of Delhi, India, a Post-Graduate degree in Rural Management from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, India and a Masters of Public Policy from Duke University. As an Associate Research Manager at IMRB International’s India office, she worked on large-scale survey research projects on HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, and forced labor. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, she was a Research Fellow with Duke University and NEERMAN in India. During her fellowship, she worked on impact evaluation of programs in water and sanitation and improved cookstoves in India, and electricity provision in Bangladesh.

Ipsita’s research interests are in understanding the relationship between environment, health and development outcomes; household energy use in low-resource countries; and exploring determinants of health-improving technology adoption. At UNC-Chapel Hill, she was a recipient of the Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship and a pre-doctoral trainee at the Carolina Population Center.


February 16: Gabriel Valdivia

Gabriela Valdivia is Associate Professor in the Geography Department at UNC-CH. Her research examines the political dimensions of natural resource governance in Latin America: how Latin American states, firms, and civil society appropriate and transform resources to meet their interests, and how capturing and putting resources to work transforms cultural and ecological communities. Her latest research project, “The Impact of Oil Extraction, Regulatory Policy, and Environmental Practice on Native Amazon and Afro-Ecuadorian Communities,” funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), examines how the everyday lives of Afro-descendants and Amazonian peoples are shaped by oil infrastructure in Ecuador. She grew up in Peru and conducted ethnographic research in Ecuador and Bolivia, and brings these experiences into her introductory courses on Latin America and advanced undergraduate courses on the political ecology of rural Latin America.


February 23: Janeria Easley

Janeria Easley is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology and the Population Studies Center (PSC) at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University. Her research focuses on ethnic and racial economic inequality, neighborhood inequality, and wealth. Specifically, Dr. Easley analyzes  the relationship between residential segregation and job access among the largest ethnic and racial groups in the United States. She is also interested in racial differences in intergenerational mobility.


March 2: Elizabeth Ananat

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat is Associate Professor of Public Policy Studies and Economics at Duke University. She received a B.A. in political economy and mathematics at Williams College in 1999, a master’s degree in public policy from the Ford School at the University of Michigan in 2001, and a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006. In 2010 she served as Senior Economist for Labor, Education, and Welfare at the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Her research focuses on the intergenerational dynamics of poverty and inequality.


March 23: Jacqueline Chattopadhyay

Jacqueline Chattopadhyay is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a faculty member in UNC Charlotte’s Gerald G. Fox Master of Public Administration Program and in UNC Charlotte’s doctoral program in Public Policy. She earned her Ph.D. in Government & Social Policy from Harvard University in 2012 and her B.A. (Political Science; Economics) from the University of California, Irvine in 2005. Her research focuses on American politics with emphases on social policy, health policy, and immigration. In particular, she studies fluctuations in the American welfare state; citizen interactions with regulatory and safety-net policies; households’ navigation of public and private insurance products; and the politics of policy implementation, resilience, and retrenchment.


April 13: Arne Kalleberg

Arne L. Kalleberg is a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his B.A. from Brooklyn College and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was previously a Professor of Sociology at Indiana University in Bloomington.  Kalleberg served as the Secretary of the American Sociological Association in 2001-4 and as its President in 2007-8. He is currently the editor of Social Forces, an International Journal of Social Research.


Fall 2017

September 8: Elizabeth Frankenberg

Dr. Frankenberg has been appointed as the new Director of the Carolina Population Center and joined UNC’s Department of Sociology in the Summer of 2017. Her research focuses on family, health, natural disasters, public policy, and well-being. Frankenberg has directed major longitudinal studies in Indonesia including the Indonesian Family Life Survey and the Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery, funded by grants from NIA and NICHD.



September 22: Health & Human Rights Lecture ~ 5:00pm in FedEx Global Education Center

The UNC Health & Human Rights Lecture Series seeks to elaborate the human rights principles that frame health policy. In considering human rights under international law as a basis for public health, this annual lecture has shifted the analysis of global health debates from social justice to legal accountability, elevating human rights from principle to practice. Established in 2011, this lecture series has brought to campus many global leaders in the application of human rights to public health.



September 26: Carolina Forum ~ 5:15pm in FedEx Global Education Center

The twenty-first century version of the Carolina Forum creates a new space and a place for discussion and debate on big domestic and global policy challenges. The Forum fosters non-partisan discussion and deliberation. Its mission is to educate and to engage students in a dialogue about key policy issues in the U.S. and around the globe. The Forum hosts leaders in policy and politics, higher education, private and non-profit sector, and provides an opportunity for students to evaluate the debate surrounding complex policy problems and to enhance their ability to reason through competing arguments.



September 29: Erik Wibbles, Duke Political Science

Erik Wibbels is the Robert O. Keohane professor of political science at Duke University and the co-general editor of the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series. His research focuses on development, redistribution and political geography. He also has partnerships with bilateral and multilateral donors to improve the design and evaluation of governance programming and is a founding member of the DevLab@Duke.



October 13: Venkat Kuppuswamy, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Dr Kuppuswamy is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he teaches courses in strategic management, media entrepreneurship, and innovation. His research lies in two broad domains: entrepreneurship and corporate diversification.



October 27: Students preparing for APPAM



November 10: Frank Baumgartner, UNC Political Science

Frank R. Baumgartner is the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In recent years he has been involved in studies of race and criminal justice and serves on the editorial boards of many peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Public Policy, Public Administration, Policy Studies Journal, Political Research Quarterly.



November 17: Whitney Afonso, UNC School of Government

Dr. Afonso joined the School of Government in 2012 and was named the Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Assistant Professor for 2015–2017. Her research into how the choice of revenue streams by state and local governments affect government and citizen behavior has been presented at the annual conferences for the National Tax Association, Association for Budgeting and Financial Management, American Society for Public Administration, and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.



December 1: Kristin Goss, Duke Sanford School of Public Policy

Professor Goss focuses on why people do (or don’t) participate in political life and how their engagement affects public policymaking. Her current research projects focus on the role of philanthropic billionaires in policy debates and on the evolution of gun-related advocacy over the past decade. Professor Goss directs the “Duke in DC” program, which provides select undergraduates with an immersive experience combining work experience and policy-oriented seminars. She also is active in the Triangle Area chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network, which amplifies the voice of university-based academics in public policy debates.



Spring 2017

January 20: Nicole Ross, Public Policy

February 3: Ben Meier and Pam Jagger, Public Policy

March 3: Bradley Hardy, American University, School of Public Affairs

March 24: Lisa Schulkind, Belk College of Business

April 7: Paul Gaggl, Belk College of Business

April 21: Brigitte Seim, Public Policy

Fall 2016

September 9: Maureen Berner, UNC School of Government

September 23: Bill Lester, Department of City and Regional Planning

October 7: Ashu Handa, Public Policy

October 28: Students prepping for Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management conference

November 11: Anna Krome-Lukens, Public Policy

Number 18: Meenu Tewari, Department of City and Regional Planning

December 2: Scott Wentland, Bureau of Economic Analysis

Spring 2016

January 29: Jeremy Moulton

February 12: Steve Hemelt

February 26: Doug Lauen

March 4: Doug McKay

April 8: Tricia Sullivan

April 22: Brigitte Zimmerman


Co-covenors: Rebecca Kreitzer – – 919-962-2788 – Abernethy 101

Candis W. Smith – – 919.843.8130 – Abernethy 211