Sonal Pandya receives Stanford’s Hoover Fellowship to Continue Research on Supermarket Scanner Data
Professor Sonal Pandya has been selected as a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow for 2016–17. Her research topic is beautifully quirky, the sort of thing which is interesting to every person who has ever bought a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, a jar of mustard.
Sonal’s research uses supermarket scanner data to reveal Americans’ reactions to shock events – events which expose our nationalism and how we express patriotism through shopping. During 2003 France was opposed to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Scanner data reveals we changed our buying habits after this — reducing our purchases of TRESemmé shampoo, Raison d’être Beer, and yes, even French’s Mustard.
Non-French-speaking Americans picked up on written cues like accents, circumflexes, “eau’s” and “oui’s”, and bundled them all into a boycott against France. The reaction to the event was repeatedly stoked by Bill O’Reilly who included Roquefort dressing, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Pierre Cardin in the boycott. In her paper French Roast: Consumer Response to International Conflict—Evidence from Supermarket Scanner Data, Sonal charted Fox News’ coverage against CNN’s which revealed huge differences between the peaks and valleys in how the two media outlets handled France’s announcement. The data revealed shoppers punished any brand which sounded French or even French-ish.
Fantastique! But also puzzling and a little sad for Americans. Her results do not reveal irony—in a world of multinationals, acculturation, branding, and identity-switching, who can say what products are Franco? or American? or Franco-American!?
The research was published in the journal Review of Economics and Statistics, and subsequently picked up by New York Magazine. This research opens a bunch of potential tools, for brand managers dealing with product identity and crisis communications, as a type of responsive polling data to be watched by policy makers, and perhaps by keen-eyed spies who want to know the political leanings of shoppers within driving distance of a Giant, Kroger, and Trader Joe’s.
The Hoover Institute liked Sonal’s next project, International Conflict and Economic Interdependence Revisited, and invited her for a year-long fellowship, from September 2016 through June 2017. And so she returns to Stanford where she did her undergraduate work. The Hoover Institute Fellowship is an award earmarked for scholars at Sonal’s career level: someone within seven years of receiving their terminal degree, and post tenure—the time when faculty take on more daring research projects.
Sonal says this revisit will look at 9/11 and the efforts implemented by Homeland Security. What happens to a shopper when the Homeland Security alert system goes from green to red? What about when bin Ladin was captured? How much do fear and anxiety direct people towards American brands?
Teasing out is a phrase political scientists often use when looking at complex data. Sonal will be teasing out more knowledge from more supermarket data. She says the supply chain makes this complex—at what point can we infer causality? How do we parse the signal from the noise? Perhaps this knowledge can be used identify war casualties and events more important than mustard choice.
Sonal looks forward to conducting her research under the Hoover Fellowship. She says “the Hoover Institute can influence policy, and then get that policy information into the right hands.” It is a powerful opportunity. Previous Hoover Fellows you may recognize: former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Senior Fellow), UVA Department of Politics’ James Ceaser (Senior Fellow), George Schultz (Distinguished Fellow), Henry Kissinger (Distinguished Visiting Fellow), former Attorney General Ed Meese, former United States Senator Sam Nunn, former California governor Pete Wilson. Recipients also include three Nobel Prize winners, three Presidential Medal of Freedom winners, a National Medal of Science winner, a National Humanities Medal winner, three MacArthur Fellows, among many other types of awards. Sonal Pandya will be in prestigious company.
The Institute has a great array of seminars and events for National fellows. They also are expected to produce a publishable journal article or book manuscript while in residence. Fellows are also expected to participate in the intellectual life of the Hoover Institution, including attending seminars, roundtables with visiting policymakers and scholars, and social events. Political science nirvana.
More on Sonal Pandya’s and research partner Rajkumar Venkatesan supermarket scanner research here.
Lynn Sanders will be on a panel examining the works of Jacob Lawrence, an African American artist from Harlem, primarily known for his work which he termed dynamic cubism. Lynn, a painter as well as political scientist, uses art in her classes as a part of understanding politics. She reads a painting through subject, metaphor, symbol, color, and context—standard tools in art history, but a quite different lens for studying social science. The McIntire Department of Art and the Fralin Museum are co-sponsors in the event. See details of their schedule below.
All events will take place the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Auditorium, unless otherwise noted
Thursday, April 14, 2016
6:00 pm: Reception (The Fralin Museum of Art)
6:15 pm: Welcome
6:30 pm: Poetry performance by University of Virginia students
Friday, April 15, 2016
8:15 am: Coffee + Conversation
9:00 am: Session I
Welcome: Elizabeth Hutton Turner, University Professor, Modern Art, University of Virginia; Introduction: Andrea Douglas, Executive Director, Charlottesville’s Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
Personalizing Jacob Lawrence’s Self Portrait within Struggle
David Driskell, The David C. Driskell Center for Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora
The talk will center on Lawrence’s personal portrayal of the African American experience as reflected in his painting entitled The Struggle.
10:00 am: BREAK
10:15 am: Session II
Introduction: Deborah McDowell, Alice Griffin Professor, Department of English and Director of the Carter G. Woodson Center, University of Virginia
I Hope I Transcend the Strictly Parochial: Painting Resistance as a Universal Trope
Sandy Alexandre, Associate Professor, Literature, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This talk will constitute an effort to answer the following question: What does it look like to attempt to justify the breaking point of oppressed black people to those who fear it or who cannot even fathom its possibility? Ultimately, I hope to demonstrate how Lawrence’s paintings in the series concatenate to suggest that violence is not only the province of us all, but that it is also necessarily our inheritance as an American people.
Leslie King-Hammond, Graduate Dean Emeritus and Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture, Maryland Institute College of Art
11:45 am: Q & A – Lisa Woolfork, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Virginia
12:15 pm: LUNCH BREAK
2:00 pm: Session III
Introduction: Christa Noel Robbins, Assistant Professor, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Shilpa S. Davé, Assistant Professor, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia
Theresa M. Davis, Associate Professor of Cross Cultural Performance, Department of Drama, University of Virginia
Carmenita Higginbotham, Associate Professor, American Art and Culture, Department of Art and American Studies Program, University of Virginia
M. Jordan Love, Academic Curator, The Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia
Lynn M. Sanders, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
2:45 pm: BREAK
3:00 pm: Session IV
Introduction: Carmenita Higginbotham, Associate Professor, American Art and Culture, Department of Art and American Studies Program, University of Virginia
History as Symbols of Struggle: Jacob Lawrence Chronicles a Revisionist History of America
Patricia Hills, Professor Emerita, American Art and African American Art, Boston University
In 1954 Lawrence applied to the Guggenheim Foundation for funds to complete an ambitious eighty-panel history of the United States from 1607 to 1918. Although he completed only thirty panels, he succeeded in presenting a revisionist, "bottom-up" version of history in which heroic actions are performed and sustained by ordinary people.
4:15 pm: Q & A – Elizabeth Hutton Turner, University Professor, Modern Art, University of Virginia
*We encourage visitors to also view the Jacob Lawrence exhibitions at The Fralin Museum of Art and the Special Collections Library.
This exhibition and symposium is supported by the Page-Barbour Fund, The McIntire Department of Art, Mr. Harvey Ross, The Jacob Lawrence Foundation, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at UVa, the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts, the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture, the Corcoran Department of History, and the Arts Council.
David Leblang Receives Mentoring Awards
David Leblang keeps his door open—and all kinds of opportunities wander in. For him the most pleasant are the ones where he ends up as a mentor. He has developed a reputation as a professor who freely shares advice, opens his network to others, and collaborates just because it's fun.
The rest of the world agrees, David just received the Society for Women in International Political Economy (SWIPE) 2016 Mentor Award at ISA's 57th Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.
David received the award as a result of letter nominations by individual supporters. Nominations noted his efforts in advancing the careers of women in political science, providing feedback and reviews on the work of junior scholars, and essential direction through the knot of academia. He also mentors outside the walls of his home institution, a gesture he learned from his own mentor, John Freeman. Leblang's graciousness, gentle sense of humor, and vigilance in providing a just educational environment are all factors in his success as a mentor.
Despite David's incredulity at winning the award, the SWIPE committee's rationale for for choosing him is made clear by the comments from the nominators: he counters the social networks that impede the career development of women, he establishes long-term mentoring relationships, and supports women with whom he has no institutional ties. He states that his behavior has "everything to do with mentoring, but nothing to do with gender," —but acknowledges the explicit bias in political science in academia, the different norms and expectations for female faculty and graduate students. And further that prejudices also exist in race, gender, and pedigree.
“...David consciously and systematically counters the gendered nature of academic social networks that undermine women’s career advancement.”
As part of the ceremony, a roundtable was held in his honor. Participants included two of his mentors, Steve Chan (University of Colorado) and John Freeman, (University of Minnesota).
Preparation—a key skill learned from Dr. Chan. He observed Chan walking the halls and meeting with people, hearing their concerns, developing solutions, and providing a vision. David recounts "Steve never called a department meeting where he did not know the outcome beforehand," a great lesson in leadership. Chan also shared the importance of family and work-life balance, institutional support and protection for faculty, the value of giving and sharing time to collegues.
Early in David's career Dr. Freeman provided with strong scholarly mentoring as well. As a grad student at Vanderbilt working on a paper about capital controls in developing countries, David requested a working paper from Dr. Freeman with which he fundamentally disagreed. He wished to quote the working paper. Freeman agreed and requested David's paper in return. "Sometime later I received this—seven pages of single spaced, numbered criticisms of my paper. John took issue with analytics and the empirics, with the theory and the presentation of results. He methodically, carefully, pulled the paper apart bit by bit. You can imagine the horror, the embarrassment I felt as I read his comments as I was in the first year of a tenure track job."
In a PS at the end of the paper he requested that David send him clean copy of the paper. He wanted to use the paper in his graduate class. As David recounted this postscript at the SWIPE award, he called them the most powerful twenty-eight words he had ever read.
"And they remain the most powerful. Here was someone I'd never met. Who did not know me. Did not know my advisors, had never been to Vanderbilt or North Texas. He had zero connection to me. Yet he invested the time to read my work, to provide criticism but then to signal in the clearest way possible that he found value in my work."
A History of this Behavior
As evidence of his commitment to mentoring and leading by example, David also won the Outstanding Mentoring Award from the University of Virginia Provost's office in 2015. In contrast to his surprise at winning the SWIPE award, David facetiously indicates 'damn right,' he is deserving of this award, that within the walls of the University he works his butt off to help his colleagues and students.
The Provost's office award receives input from colleagues, mentees, and students.
What his nominator says: “A critical aspect of faculty mentorship is leading by example. And this is perhaps where David’s record is most remarkable. He has been a tireless leader of our department and an astoundingly prolific researcher (both at the same time).”
What his colleague says: “His mentorship was not confined to formal annual meetings, but took place every day, as he left his door open and invited junior colleagues to stop by or knocked on their doors to discuss various issues.”
What his mentee and colleague says: “He always acts as if he has all the time in the world to listen to your problems and help you solve them. He remembers details. He reminds you, by example, of why being a professor is fun. He is straightforward about what he thinks. … he is extremely creative and resourceful in finding answers to problems.”
It's key to remember that this effort doesn't come for free. David has integrated this process into his work, both as a chair and a scholar; his modesty aside, it is additional work—it requires holding these tactics in mind, remembering to act upon them, and not view mentoring as a burden. He says he wouldn't do it if there wasn't something in it for him, and apparently there is.
Leblang is Professor and Chair of the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and Faculty, Associate and J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance at the Miller Center.
Visit David's site page for more information, publications, and data.
Dr. Carol Mershon has been elected to the Hugh S. and Winifred Cumming Chair in Politics for a three year term beginning Fall of 2016.
Her research is outstanding and her leadership and service in the area of enhancing diversity convinces us that she deserves a term in the Cumming Chair.
The Department of Politics’ nominating committee wrote “Her research is outstanding and her leadership and service in the area of enhancing diversity convinces us that she deserves a term in the Cumming Chair. Her service has been on multiple levels and venues, both within the university and in the profession as a whole. She has published on this topic and received NSF funding.”
The current chairs in the Department agreed and forwarded her nomination to the Dean’s office. There the nomination was vetted by a committee of Chairs in the College and it was then forwarded to the Provost who enthusiastically agreed.
Dr. Mershon is the Professor and Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Faculty Fellow in the Center for Global Health at the University, and for the 2015–2016 academic year serves as Interim Co-PI / Program Director for UVa CHARGE, the NSF ADVANCE program at UVa.
Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Riz visited Food Politics during J-Term. Her presentation was a recap of the process, negotiation, and compromise which she and her committee go through in revising the joint USDA/Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 600 page document includes well-known suggestions such as reducing sugary drinks and trans fats, but also emphasizes less publicized ideas like the Mediterranean Diet.
The report is backed with science—hundreds of pages of analysis, conclusions, and recommendations. The Guidelines are revised every 5 years to account for new research and better data analysis.
Dr. Siega-Riz also covered some recent alcohol research which enlivened the Q&A.
Dr. Siega-Riz is Program Leader for the Reproductive, Perinatal, and Pediatric Program in the Department of Epidemiology at Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Stuart Pape (Government ’70, Law ’73) visited Paul Freedman’s Food Politics J-Term class. His presentation, The Politics of Food: Some Perspectives on the History and Character of U.S. Food Safety Regulation , covered all the hot food topics of the day: GMO salmon, Chipotle’s struggle with norovirus and E. coli, raw milk, and the existential question, “What is mayonnaise?”
Dr. Pape solicited input from the class with a series of questions to test students’ moral mettle and risk-tolerance: Who would eat genetically modified salmon? Who would return to Chipotle for a burrito in the wake of the E. coli breakout? What kind of mother would give her baby 7-Up instead of milk?
Dr. Pape is an attorney with Polsinelli in Washington, D.C , a law firm where he heads the food industry consultation. Previously, he worked as associate chief counsel for food in the Office of the Chief of Counsel at the FDA . He also served as executive assistant to FDA Commissioner Donald Kennedy.
Dr. Pape’s visit follows a class visit to Polyface farm, Joel Salatin’s circle of life/systems-approach to farming livestock and saving the world from itself.
We all like to think our work is important—Dale Lawton’s work informs the President of the United States. Some days his intelligence analysis ends up in the book, the daily briefing book of the POTUS. He currently works at the State Department’s Office of Opinion Research (OPN) in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The work of the analysts in this office is to provide context to the ocean of information collected by the intelligence community. Reports from OPN end up in several presidential briefings a month. Lawton’s work also is used by U.S. State Department policymakers.
Dr. Lawton (UVA PhD, Politics, ’04) visited the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and spoke to faculty and graduate students about his work in the Middle East, particularly gathering opinions and perceptions about ISIL. Earlier in the day he presented State Department 101 (sponsored by the Career Center) to undergraduates interested in internships and careers in the State Department.
As an analyst in OPN, Lawton works with about thirty colleagues conducting policy-relevant social science research across the world. His office conducts research in about 100 countries per year . He emphasizes that 90% of OPN’s reports are not classified, though all are for internal government use only. The office has a process to release the reports to the public through the National Archives, but as with many bureaucratic structures, there are problems fulfilling its mandate and the delivery of the reports is backlogged.
The UVa audience of faculty and graduate students was very interested in the data gathered by Lawton’s office. Dr. Lawton stressed OPN’s desire to balance requests to make the data accessible to the public with the need to be sensitive to situations around the world that might be complicated by the disclosure of the data. The UVa audience shared insights into the anonymization of data and how the researchers at the University’s new Data Science Institute are experts in cleansing data and their expertise would make UVa the ideal partner for this work.
Survey results he shared included questions about local leaders in the Middle East; responsibility for the rise of ISIL; and Arab views of the United States. He was previously posted in Ghana, Mongolia, Cuba, South Africa, and Iraq.
The Department of Politics hosted its first annual Diversity Visit Day on October 15th, 2015. Thirteen outstanding undergraduates and recent graduates from underrepresented groups spent the day at UVA, learning about graduate school in general and UVA’s Department of Politics, in particular.
Following breakfast with Dean Baucom, and Politics faculty, and current graduate students, the visiting students attended a panel entitled Political Science Graduate School: An Overview. The panelists—Murad Idris (Political Theory), Robert Fatton (Comparative Politics), Paul Freedman (American Politics, Political Methodology), and Denise Walsh (Comparative Politics)—described what the future holds for them as political scientists in academia: time to read, time to think. The panel was divided on how much time is actually available.
The second panel, on Applying to and Paying for Graduate School sought to demystify the graduate school application process; the panelists offered strategies and tactics for the application process, and explained how to offset costs with scholarships and grants— including those from the Jefferson Fellowship program at UVA. The panel included Keisha John, Jen Rubenstein, Lynn Sanders, and Herman Schwartz. Dr. John said her current soapbox is showing how a graduate can complete her or his education without getting into significant debt. The visiting students were definitely paying attention.
Other events included a panel on Finding Mentors, Creating Community, Working Across Disciplines, individual and small group meetings with professors, Jon Kropko’s class in Advanced Topics in Multivariate Analysis, Sid Milkis’ class in American Political Development, a wrap-up session, and a party at Department Chair David Leblang’s house.
This year’s Diversity Day participants hailed from around the country, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Dallas, Richmond (VA) and New York City, among other places.
Anyone interested in applying for the 2016 Diversity Visit Day should e-mail Dr. Jennifer Rubenstein, Rubenstein@virginia.edu, and ask to be put on the mailing list to receive more information when it becomes available.