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Mobilization And Change

Researchers and Personnel

Cathy J. Cohen
Principal Investigator and Project Director

Cathy J. Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science and former Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (NYU, 1997). Cohen currently serves as co-editor with Frederick Harris of a book series from Oxford University Press entitled “Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities.”

Cohen’s general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African American politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements. Her work has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes including the American Political Science ReviewGLQNOMOS and Social Text. She has also been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including recently a Robert Wood Johnson Investigator’s Award and a Ford Foundation research award for her work on African American youth.

More about the Black Youth Project

Michael C. Dawson
Co-Principal Investigator

Michael C. Dawson is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. Professor Dawson’s research interests include the development of quantitative models of African American political behavior, identity, and public opinion, the political effects of urban poverty, and African American political ideology. He also combines more recent quantitative work with work in political theory. Both his research on race and his strong interest in the impact of the information technology revolution on society and politics are fueled in part from his time spent as an activist while studying and working in Silicon Valley for several years.

Dawson is a founding co-editor of The Du Bois Review and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. He was also co-principal investigator of the 1988 National Black Election Study and principal investigator with Ronald Brown of the 1993-1994 National Black Politics Study.

Alexandra Moffett-Bateau
Project Manager

Alexandra Moffett-Bateau is a doctoral student in the Political Science department at the University of Chicago. Originally from Detroit, MI, she received her B.A. in Political Science and African-American studies from the University of Michigan. Currently, her research interests more broadly are race & gender in American politics, and more specifically she is interested in black counter-politics, particularly black feminism, the politics of hip-hop and police brutality.

Julie Lee Merseth
Project Manager

Julie Lee Merseth is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Chicago. Her primary research area is American politics with a focus on political behavior and attitudes. She is especially interested in racial and ethnic politics, including the politics of immigrants and women of color. Her current research examines questions of political inclusion and citizen formation across categories of race, nativity, and legal status.

Amir Shawn Fairdosi
Graduate Researcher

Amir Shawn Fairdosi is a PhD student in political science at the University of Chicago. Specializing in the field of American Politics, his research centers on issues related to political equality and representation. He currently examines the effects of incarceration on civic participation and political beliefs.

Mosi Ifatunji
Graduate Researcher

Mosi Ifatunji is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). Mosi has maintained academic and research fellowships throughout his graduate training, including the prestigious American Sociological Association, Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2007-2010). His primary research interests include racial ideology and inequality, immigration and migration and mixed methods research designs. (

Ainsley LeSure
Graduate Researcher

Ainsley LeSure is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, specializing in the field of political theory. Her general research interests are identity politics, democratic theory, critical race theory, and feminist theory. Ainsley’s current research seeks to use the insights of feminist scholarship to develop accounts of racism and racial identity that investigate the connections and differences between liberation and freedom.

Theo Rose
Graduate Researcher

Theo Rose is a graduate student in cultural anthropology at the University of Chicago. His general research interests are (post)colonialism, West Africa, and the Africa Diaspora. His work has focused on post-conflict and political reconstruction in West Africa.

Claudia Sandoval
Graduate Researcher

Claudia Sandoval is a PhD student in the Political Science department. Her interests center around multiracial alliances. More specifically, she is interested in analyzing social and political relations between African Americans and Latinos.

Leigh Richie
Web Coordinator

Leigh graduated from Duke University in 2009, where she received her B.A. in public policy studies. At Duke, she explored a range of interests including racial/ethnic health disparities and African-American film and music. Leigh is currently working as web coordinator for the Black Youth Project, which she joined in June, 2009.