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Welcome to UT!

This academic year, we welcome three new members to our faculty.

Christopher OjedaChristopher Ojeda is an assistant professor of political science. Before joining the faculty, Ojeda earned his BA in government from Christopher Newport University and his MA and PhD in political science from the Pennsylvania State University. He then spent two years as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University.

Ojeda’s research focuses on political behavior, public opinion, and political socialization. In particular, he is interested in understanding the social and economic roots of political inequality, with a special emphasis on the role of poverty, health, and the family. One of his current projects looks at how children’s perceptions of parents shape the intergenerational transmission of party identification. He is also working on a book manuscript that examines the childhood origins of the income-participation gap.

Ojeda’s research has been published in Social Science QuarterlyPolitical Psychology, the American Sociological Review, the British Journal of Political Science, and the American Journal of Epidemiology, and has been funded by the Russell Sage Foundation. Ojeda’s work won the Seymour Sudman Student Paper award in 2012 from the American Association of Public Opinion Research. He was the receipt of the Distinguished Junior Scholar Award from the political psychology section of the American Political Science Associationin 2015.

Jonathan RingJonathan Ring, lecturer, was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. Since high school, he has been slowly moving east, earning degrees and gaining experience as a researcher and teacher along the way. He earned his BA from the University of South Dakota in 2007, and MA (2010) and PhD (2014) from the University of Iowa. He was a postdoctoral research fellow and lecturer at the University of Michigan from 2014 – 2106 and an assistant professor at Cleveland State University in the 2016-17 academic year.

His academic interests are in international relations, comparative politics, and formal models. His research addresses norm diffusion – the process by which ideas and policies are spread from one country to another. His current work focuses on various human rights policy areas, such as personal integrity rights protections, quotas for women’s political representation, and LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws. In each of these areas, the world has recently witnessed dramatic changes in policy adoption suggesting rapidly changing global norms. Yet, policy implementation has been uneven, with some states professing support for human rights norms without leading to real change. Ring’s research deals with these issues by developing and applying theoretical and empirical mathematical models. He has used agent-based modeling to explore the processes of norm diffusion under a variety of assumptions about countries’ motivations for expressing support for norms they do not intend to follow. He also has contributed to the empirical understanding of human rights by addressing measurement problems associated with translating textual information into ordinal and numeric indexes of human rights practices.

Ring is also a committed educator who has taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate political science courses and supervised student research. He is currently working with coauthors on a book project Gaming the System, which provides instructors with games to teach core lessons of American politics. His courses have included international relations, comparative politics, foreign policy, conflict processes, transnational activism, human rights, global governance, and norm diffusion.

Gary UzonyiGary Uzonyi, assistant professor, earned his BA in 2008 from Florida State University and PhD in 2013 from the University of Michigan, both in political science. Before coming to Tennessee, he was an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and a visiting faculty member at Duke University. In addition to his position in the department, he is a Research Fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Uzonyi works on topics related to international relations and global security. His research interests concern how governments choose whether to use violent or non-violent policy tools in response to information asymmetries and uncertainty. He primarily focuses on topics related to genocide, politicide, and mass killing during civil war. This research has resulted in a dozen publications in top international relations journals. Uzonyi is completing a book manuscript on how international politics influence civilian victimization during civil war.

Uzonyi has taught undergraduate and graduate students across diverse classroom settings, such as small group writing intensive seminars and large lectures. He has earned the Kingdon Teaching Award at the University of Michigan and a Merit Award for teaching at UMass-Lowell. He is passionate about undergraduate research opportunities and has received several fellowships to work with undergraduates. At UT, Uzonyi will offer courses on civil war, human rights, and United States foreign policy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

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