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Welcoming Assistant Professor Elaine Denny

August 21, 2018

UC Merced Political Science is delighted to welcome Dr Elaine K. Denny, Assistant Professor of Political Science, who joined the faculty on July 1st, 2018. Her appointment expands the teaching and research profile of the university.

Denny joins UC Merced from Duke University, where she was a postdoctoral fellow with DevLab@Duke, and UC San Diego, where she received a joint Ph.D. in Political Science and International Affairs. Denny studies how financial insecurity changes how people make decisions, with downstream effects on political preferences and behavior. Her research links financial stress to disparities in political participation, and she shows how (and why) financial insecurity changes one’s likelihood of taking political action. Denny combines survey, lab, and field studies to both identify mediating psychological factors that affect behavior, and to test the efficacy of interventions that leverage these findings in actual policy settings. Additional interests include developing methods for measuring social norms change, and using cutting-edge causal inference to evaluate the efficacy of poverty alleviation efforts. Denny will teach Political Psychology (undergraduate) and Making Public Policy: Analysis, Strategy, and Impact (undergraduate) in 2018-2019.

In the policy arena, Denny has five years' experience evaluating gender and social norms programming for DFID in Nigeria, and she also has consulted for UNICEF on social norms measurement. As a postdoctoral fellow with DevLab@Duke and RTI, she evaluated programming related to corruption and income insecurity in Ghana and India, and she co-authored a series of successful USAID grants to fund future research. Other relevant experience includes work at Amnesty International and with NGOs in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Denny is also a committed educator, and she has been recognized for a teaching style that promotes a diverse, empowering learning environment.

For more information on Denny’s work, see her website here.