About Me

I am a fourth-year Ph.D student in American Politics and Political Methodogy in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. In addition, I am a Graduate Research Affiliate in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and a University Graduate Fellow. I graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in Political Science.

My research combines a diverse range of methods – including causal inference tools, natural language processing, experiments, and structural estimation – and original data in order to answer questions about the U.S. Congress, congressional campaigns, and representation. My dissertation project investigates House primary candidates’ ideological positions, and my other solo and co-authored work centers on the determinants and effects of campaign contributions in congressional elections.

I am originally from Portland, Oregon and my free time is mostly spent traveling, cooking, writing amateur restaurant reviews, and volunteering weekly at my local Planned Parenthood.

For questions, comments, or drafts of working papers, I can be reached at mellissa.b.meisels@vanderbilt.edu. You can find my current CV here.