Bio & CV

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at New York University.  I am a scholar of electoral systems, distributive politics, and the politics of contemporary Japan.  You can view my CV here.

My first project, consisting of a Cambridge University press book and several articles, used the case of Japan's 1994 electoral reform to better understand the effects of electoral systems, and in particular, intra-party competition, on politicians' behavior. For this project, I applied cutting-edge techniques for quantitative text analysis to a new collection of 7,497 Japanese-language candidate election manifestos to estimate the ideological positions and policy priorities of candidates running in consecutive elections on either side of the reform.  My book, which examined how politicians' treatment of national security changed after the reform, also drew on insights gleaned from fifteen months of fieldwork in Japan, more than a hundred interviews with political actors, and first-hand observation of the campaigns of several politicians in the 2009 election.

My second project, consisting of several published articles and two books in progress (one solo-authored, one co-authored), looks at how politicians in developed democracies use geographically-targeted spending to increase their chances of winning the next election. In two articles, my co-author and I make theoretical contributions to research on electoral systems and geographically-targeted spending. This research leveraged data from Japan and Mexico. In other work, I make the case that the way politicians tie money to votes in Japan qualifies as "clientelistic", even though the recipients are groups of voters, not individual voters. I advocate for a research agenda centered on how politicians can use geographically-targeted spending to cultivate clientelistic exchanges with groups. These projects draw on the most comprehensive dataset ever assembled on allocations from the central government to Japanese municipalities over a thirty five-year period.

I graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University in 2011. I earned my B.A. Hons (First Class) in Political Science from Victoria University of Wellington in 2003 and my B.A. in Japanese and Political Studies from the University of Otago in 2002, both in my native New Zealand.  I studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Tokyo from 2000-2001 on the AIKOM program, and again from 2003-2004 on a Japanese Ministry of Education scholarship, during which time I served as an intern for Japan's Liberal Democratic Party.   I have undergone almost a decade of training in the Japanese language and have spent five years in Japan, including in high school.

More information about my research, data, publications, and teaching can be found by clicking the links above or reading my CV.