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, click on their picture!

Rosalyn Cooperman Photo

Professor Rosalyn Cooperman‘s research focuses on two main areas in U.S. politics – the behavior of political party activists and women’s political participation as candidates and voters. She examines how the preferences of party activists influence candidates who run for office, the issues they champion, and the campaign strategies that parties adopt to win elections. She is particularly interested in women’s political participation as candidates and officeholders, as are significantly underrepresented as donors, candidates, and officeholders even though women turnout to vote in higher percentages than men. Her most recent publication, “Group Commitment among U.S. Party Factions: A Perspective from Democratic and Republican National Convention Delegates,” (with Kimberly Conger, Geoffrey Layman, Gregory Shufeldt, Ozan Kalkan, and Richard Herrera) was published in American Politics Research in 2019. Two of her articles will be published this year.


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.


Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, is co-author of a new book published by Routledge, Late Night With Trump: Political Humor and the American Presidency. The book, Professor Farnsworth’s seventh, 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. You can see him discuss his book here. In addition, Professor Farnsworth 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.


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.


Professor Elizabeth Larus 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. The second edition of her book, Politics and Society in in Contemporary China will be published by Lynne Rienner 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 Liberalism and Leadership: The Irony of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr (University of Michigan Press, 2019).


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. Currently, she is also working on a paper that examines judicial perceptions of women rebels in El Salvador during the civil war. Her most recent publication, “Difficult Commitments: Intercountry Adoption to the US and Accession to the Hague Convention,” coauthored with Marijke Breuning, was published in Adoption Quarterly in 2019.


photo of Dr. Singh

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 will present a paper on the challenges of teaching the Palestinian-led “Boycott, Divestment, Sanction” movement at this year’s annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association. This paper started with a movement-centered seminar he taught in 2019.


Professor Matt Tarpey’s research focuses on public opinion, elections, and representation in the American context. His research has appeared in Political Research Quarterly, Political Science Quarterly, and PS: Political Science & Politics.