I’m delighted about the people that we have brought to the Department of Government over the past few years. What makes up a department is the people, so the most important thing that we can do is recruit top-level staff members, and that is what we’ve done. I am fortunate to have such talented colleagues. I’m also proud that I was able to continue doing and publishing research while serving as Head of Department, which is a demanding role. I enjoy doing research, writing, and working with co-authors. If articles are accepted for publication, they’ve taken a lot of work, and so it’s rewarding.
I look up to the supervisors of my undergraduate and PhD dissertations. These scholars are Gary Marks at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Jim Adams at The University of California, Davis (he was previously at UC Santa Barbara). Gary and Jim spent vast amounts of time reading my work and discussing it with me. They were giving me great ideas, but it was also their enthusiasm and passion for the topics and research that inspired me.
When I finished my PhD at Santa Barbara I started a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Amsterdam at The Free University (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). Around that time, I presented a paper at a conference in Chicago, and a member of academic staff from Essex was on my panel. He took note of the work that I was doing, and he contacted me when a Lectureship was advertised. And things went from there.
What attracted me about the position at Essex is that the Department has been ranked top for research since 1986. We’re strong in many areas of political science. We also host the British Journal of Political Science and the Essex Summer School (in Social Science Data Analysis). So, all this adds up to a vibrant intellectual environment in which to work. I think my research has gone places here that it would not have gone had I gone to other places in the world. Looking forward, I plan to visit Nuffield College at Oxford in the Autumn, and I will continue to work on research projects.
I read that Ernest Hemingway said something along the lines of ‘not all motion is action’. I try not to work when I know I’m not productive because otherwise I’m just spinning my wheels but nothing good is coming out. The other isn’t really a motto – Kristian Gleditsch, our Regius Professor, has commented that ‘if your article manuscripts don’t get rejected half the time, you’re not aiming high enough.’ I like that. As academics, we deal with rejection a lot, and it’s important to keep moving forward.