Faculty Research

Our department’s professors are active scholars who focus on local, national and international politics in their research. If you would like to find a professor’s email, office, or office hours, check out their faculty pages or click on their respective pictures below. Faculty research can also be found on our Faculty News page and on Eagle Eye’s PSIA page and its Professional Notes page.

Professor Rosalyn Cooperman surrounded by nature backdrop outside.


Professor Rosalyn Cooperman’s research focuses on U.S. political parties and women’s political participation as candidates. Her research focuses on how factions compete within their respective parties to capture or maintain a strong presence. She is particularly interested in women’s political participation as candidates and officeholders in both state legislatures and in Congress, including their campaign finance as well as as significant party gap between Democratic and Republican women. Her research has been published in American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, American Politics Research, Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy, and Party Politics. Her book Sell-Outs or Warriors for Change? A Comparative Look at Conservative Women in Politics in Democracies, (edited with Malliga Och and Shauna Shames), was published by Routledge Press in 2022. Cooperman also serves as an Expert Contributor with the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.


Professor Jason Davidson’s research focuses on alliance politics. His most recent book, America’s Entangling Alliances: 1778 to the Present (Georgetown University Press, 2020) seeks to explain US demand for allies since 1778. His previous book America’s Allies and War: Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) set out to explain US allies’ decisions to provide or refuse support to US-led military operations. His current project is on NATO’s Article V and varying commitment to it. His articles have been published in various peer-reviewed academic journals. Professor Davidson is also the Director of the Security and Conflict Studies minor program.


Professor Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science and the director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, is co-author of a new book, Producing News in a Time of Disinformation: Information Evaluation Strategies for Journalists and News Consumers, published by by the U.S. International Research and Exchanges Board. This book is available for free online to help citizens, journalists, and journalism students identify and respond to disinformation. His previous co-authored book, Late Night With Trump: Political Humor and the American Presidency (Routledge, 2020) was developed under a Waple Fellowship and includes chapters coauthored with Jeremy Engel, a member of the UMW Class of 2020, and with Noah Gardner, a member of the UMW Class of 2018. He discussed the book on C-Span’s Washington Journal. In addition, Professor Farnsworth has received three Fulbright awards. His most recent one is ongoing in Spring 2024 at the University of Warsaw in Poland where he is teaching a course on presidential communication. He also was a Fulbright Specialist at Methodist College, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during Summer 2019, where, among other things, he lectured on “Seeking Truth in the Era of Fake News.” He has further contributed to dozens of scholarly journals and many discussions on media networks.


Professor Surupa Gupta’s research focuses on developing countries’ engagement with international economic organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. With India as her primary focus, she looks both at that country’s evolving role in the governance of these institutions as well as negotiations within it. Her research also analyzes India’s domestic politics of trade, with a focus on farm sector politics. She wrote and co-edited a forum “Indian Foreign Policy under Modi: A New Brand or Just Repackaging,” published in International Studies Perspective in 2019. She edits a scholarly journal, Indian Politics and Policy. Professor Gupta also directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at UMW.


Headshot of Professor Emerita Elizabeth Freund Larus


Professor Emerita Elizabeth Larus previously served as a department chair for the PSIA department. She specializes in East Asian political, economic, and security dynamics. She spent the spring 2020 semester as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at Marie Curie-Skłowdowska University in Lublin, Poland, conducting research on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). She conducted interviews with academics, government officials and investors in Poland and Budapest to gain an understanding of the BRI as a form of economic statecraft. Her most recent book, Politics and Society in in Contemporary China, had its second edition published by Lynne Rienner Publishers in August 2020.



Professor Emile Lester’s research focuses on teaching about religion and public schools. He is particularly interested in how public schools in the South can and should handle issues related to racial justice and religion, and growing religious diversity. He received a $40,000 research grant from the Religious Freedom Center (RFC) at the Newseum in fall 2017 to serve as the official evaluator of the Georgia 3Rs project, a pioneering program intended to promote religious literacy and respect for religious freedom and diversity in Georgia public schools. The project is being piloted in a number of school districts. Professor Lester’s most recent book is Equipping Educators to Teach Religious Literacy: Lessons from a Teacher Education Program in the American South (Routledge, 2022, co-authored with W.Y. Alice Chan).


Headshot of Professor Guan-Yi Leu.Professor Guan-Yi Leu’s research focuses on international political economy, East Asian politics and foreign policy, and the development of intra-regional trade and investment in Asia. She has published research and contributed commentaries to the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Issues & Studies, Pacific Affairs, East Asian Studies, and Tamkang International Review. Her contributions are also in several books including East Asian Regional Integration and Challenges [Dongya quyu zhenghe yu tiaozhan] (2019), Introduction to Mainland China Studies [Zhongguo dalu gailun] (2020), and The Strategic Options of Middle Powers in the Asia-Pacific (2022).


Professor Melissa Martinez’s current research focuses on how international and regional organizations affect human rights practices in Latin America and how human rights violations are affected when a country faces drug trafficking organizations and armed groups. She has contributed to various scholarly journals including International Studies Quarterly, International Studies, Adoption Quarterly, and PS: Political Science & Politics. Her most recent publication, “Does the Inter-American Court of Human Rights affect the development of human rights norms in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala?,” was published in International Studies in 2023.


Headshot of Professor Jared McDonald.Professor Jared McDonald’s research focuses on aspects related to American government, political behavior, public policy, and research methodology. He is particularly interested in the means by which voters hold politicians accountable for their performance in office. His most recent book, Feeling their Pain: Why Voters Want Leaders Who Care (Oxford University Press, 2024), examines the factors that lead American voters to view political leaders as compassionate. He also co-authored Citizens of the World: Political Engagement and Policy Attitudes of Millennials across the Globe (Oxford University Press, 2022) which explores the generational divide in public opinion from a comparative perspective. He has further contributed to many scholarly journals such as The Journal of Politics, Public Administration Review, Political Behavior, American Politics Research, Electoral Studies, The International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Gender & Politics, Politics, Groups, & Identities, and The Journal of Experimental Political Science.


Professor Ranjit Singh on a hiking trip seated on a large rock in a forest.Professor Ranjit Singh’s primary research focus has been on the politics of Middle-East. In recent years, Professor Singh has also pursued a project on local nature conservation in Northern Virginia. He recently completed participatory research on Stafford County, VA private landowners’ attitudes towards land conservation, a project that originated in his volunteer work with a local, non-profit land trust, the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT), a land trust operating in the dense urban areas of Northern Virginia’s suburbs. The research is currently under review for publication. Further, his partnership with NVCT has created opportunities for our students to learn about legislative and legal strategies for conservation: our students serve as interns and volunteer in a variety of projects. In addition, Prof. Singh presented a paper on the challenges of teaching the Palestinian-led “Boycott, Divestment, Sanction” movement in 2020 at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association. This paper was then published in 2022 as “Arguing BDS in the Undergraduate Seminar and had started with a movement-centered seminar he taught in 2019.


Headshot of Professor Christopher Williams.Professor Christopher Williams’ research focuses on elite foreign policy decision-making and security issues in sub-Saharan Africa. He has published research in several journals including the South African Foreign Policy Review, Politikon, African Studies, South African Journal of International Affairs, and the South African Historical Journal. He has further contributed to various books including The Handbook of African Intelligence Cultures (2023) and The China–South Africa Relationship: A Partnership of Paradoxes (2021).