I am a Ph.D. candidate in American Politics and Political Methodogy in the Department of Political Science and a Graduate Research Affiliate in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. I will be a postdoctoral associate in the Center for the Study of American Politics at Yale University for AY 2024–2025 before joining Yale’s Department of Political Science as an Assistant Professor in 2025. Previously, I was a Democracy Center Visiting Scholar at the University of Rochester and earned my B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

My research and teaching interests center around American politics with emphases on the U.S. Congress, money in politics, electoral campaigns, political organizations, legislative representation, and quantitative methodology.

My dissertation project leverages original data on House campaign platforms to investigate how candidates choose to publicly present their positions and issue priorities during the increasingly important primary election, and the interplay between this rhetoric, support from moneyed interests, and subsequent legislative behavior.

Broadly, my work combines large data, natural language processing, causal inference tools, experiments, and structural estimation of formal models to further our understanding of strategic interactions among political elites.

For inquiries, comments, or drafts of working papers, I can be reached at mellissa.b.meisels@vanderbilt.edu.