Research

My research interests are broad and often driven largely by a desire to apply my diverse methodological skills to a set of relevant and interesting problems. This means I have worked on projects in a wide variety of substantive and theoretical areas from higher education finance to interest group narratives of nuclear energy to analyses of survey data on weather and disasters. The overarching theme to my research is an interest in the ways in which public policy can improve individual’s lives. To achieve this, I use both theories of the policy process and policy analytic techniques. My research agenda can more carefully be constructed as examining the ways in which individuals and groups produce and process information, with a primary focus on energy and environmental politics and policy.

In my dissertation, I develop a model of how individuals acquire and process information about the weather and the implications thereof. Briefly, there are many possible information sources, with varying levels of accessibility, reliability, and quality. Additionally, one can check these sources at a variety of frequencies, but we have limited knowledge of who uses which sources and how much. Beyond this, I hope to examine the relationship between information sources and climate change beliefs. Do changes in climate change beliefs cause changes in information search processes or do changes in information search processes result in changes in climate change beliefs?  Finally, the implications of information search processes and climate change beliefs are vital to understanding climate policy preferences of individuals. Understanding the structure and determinants of climate policy preferences, especially the roles of different information sources, can help policymakers design interventions to improve individual responses to weather and community resilience.

I am involved in a series of related projects examining the demographic and situational explanations for the reception and transmission of tornado/storm information. Preliminary findings suggest experience severity improves explanations for who communicates in response to storms. Specifically, individuals who report experiencing a tornado are more like to participate in communication relative to individuals who experience the storm but less severe attributes (such as rain or wind). In many cases, the effect of increased experience severity can eliminate important demographic gaps such as those between males and females. These results hold across a variety of media including text messaging, phone calls, and Facebook.

Other ongoing work I have examines advocacy group narratives about nuclear energy across multiple media, specifically websites and Twitter pages. Additionally, I am working on a project examining public support for intervention in earthquake mitigation as it varies across individual risk perceptions and the venue responsible (federal vs. state government). The first paper from this project is now published at the Review of Policy Research and has stimulated a new branch of my research agenda focusing on the role of ideology in policy preferences in the inherently intergovernmental policy domain of natural hazards and disasters.