Joseph P. McLaughlin, Jr., (PhD) is the principal investigator and director of the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project. He is also director of Temple’s Institute for Public Affairs and an assistant dean of Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts. McLaughlin teaches American politics and public policy in the department of political science. He joined Temple in March 2004 after a long career as government official and lobbyist working on major public policy issues in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Washington D. C. He served as a deputy to Philadelphia Mayor William J. Green III (1982-83) and senior advisor to Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell (2003-04). He was spokesman for the National Governors Association in Washington DC during the federalism and urban policy debates of the Carter and Reagan administrations (1978-82). From 1974-77, he was director of the Legislative Information Office of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. As a reporter for the Chicago Tribune (1968-71), he covered state and local politics and government in Illinois. McLaughlin obtained his master’s (1992) and doctoral (1999) degrees in political science from Temple.

Stefanie I. Kasparek is Graduate Research Manager at the  Institute for Public Affairs. She is also a Ph.D. student in the Political Science Department at Temple University. Kasparek graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tuebingen, Germany with a M.A. in American Studies, International Law, and Political Science. She is the 2016 Box-Steffensmeier Fellow, awarded by the Society for Political Methodology and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). She also received the 2017 EITM Certification Scholarship, awarded by Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models Summer Institutes. Her work concentrates on international organizations, agenda-setting and decision-making processes, public policy, and international security. She also provided quantitative research assistance to Dr. Roselyn Hsueh and Dr. Orfeo Fioretos in the areas of comparative political economy and international institutions. For the Political Science Department at Temple University, she teaches classes in International Relations, Quantitative Research Methods, and Research Design.

Michelle J. Atherton is associate director of the Institute for Public Affairs, senior policy writer and publications editor for the Center on Regional Politics, staff advisor for the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project, and director of the Pennsylvania Capital Semester, an internship program in Harrisburg for students at Temple and all Pennsylvania colleges and universities.  She also directs Temple’s Washington Semester, a partnership with the Washington Center in Washington, DC that allows Temple students to work and learn in the nation’s capital. Atherton graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a dual B.A. in English literature and philosophy of science.  She holds an M.A. in political science from Temple, where she was a University Fellow, and an M.S. in community and regional planning also from Temple, where she received the Department of Planning and Community Development Academic Excellence Award. She also served as a legislative intern to Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, and taught American politics, the politics of race and political philosophy as a teaching assistant and adjunct instructor before joining the Institute for Public Affairs in 2008. Atherton also serves on the executive committee of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association and is an associate editor of Commonwealth: A Journal of Pennsylvania Politics and Policy.

Paul Wolfgang is a faculty advisor for the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project and an Instructor in the department of computer and information sciences at Temple University. He is the principal constructor of the project’s website tools.

Current Student Researchers

Steven Doncaster of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, is a Political Science and Economics major in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University. Steven joined the policy database project during the first semester of his junior year. After graduation, Steven hopes to work on political campaigns and work in the non-profit sector before attending law school.

Morgan O’Donnell of Whitehall, Pennsylvania, is a Junior Journalism major, pursuing a minor in political science in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University. Morgan began working on the policy project database in the second semester of her sophomore year. After graduation she hopes to have a career in the magazine industry or as a journalist covering national public affairs.

Conor Freeley of Boston, Massachusetts, is a Sophomore Global Security and Political Science major in the college of Liberal Arts at Temple University. Conor joined the project his second semester of his Freshman year. After graduation, Conor hopes to work on capitol hill, and eventually pursue elected office.

Past Graduate Researchers

Jay Jennings is the former Assistant Program Director at the Institute for Public Affairs and the former project manager for the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project. He is also an affiliated researcher at Temple University’s Behavioral Foundations Lab. In May 2015 he completed his PhD in political science at Temple University after receiving his MA in political science from American University in 2004. His interests lie in political psychology, civic engagement, electoral behavior, religion and politics, and public policy. He is a resident of Philadelphia, but was born and raised in Central, South Carolina.

Ping Zhang was a graduate research assistant for the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project. He is from China. He obtained his Bachelor’s (2004) and Master’s (2007) degrees in Computer Science from Huazhong University of Science & Technology. He received a PhD in Computer and Information Science at Temple University . His interests lie in data mining, machine learning and their applications in various fields.

Justin Gollob is the former project coordinator for the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project. Justin completed his PhD in political science at Temple University in the fall of 2007 and is currently a professor at Mesa State College. His research interests include legislative politics, state and local government, representation, and public policy. He recieved his MA in political science from Temple University in 2002 and his bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University in 1999. Gollob was previously the internship coordinator for the department of political science and an adjunct professor. He grew up in Pocatello, Idaho.

Dan Lehman is the former graduate research manager for the Pennsylvania Policy Database project. He recently completed his dissertation on the role of political parties and interest groups in the mobilization of Latino voters. His current research interests includes parties and interest groups, race and ethnic politics, and American public policy. He graduated with BA degrees in political science and American studies from Temple University in May 2002, a MA from Temple in 2006, and a PhD from Temple in 2013. He grew up in Lebanon, PA.

J. Wesley Leckrone is Associate Professor of Government and Politics at Widener University. He is the former project coordinator of the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project and is currently on the project’s University Advisory Committee. He earned his PhD in the spring of 2006 from Temple University in the department of political science. He received an MA in history from Temple in 1995 and a BA in political science from American University in 1991. He previously served as the program director at the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University. His publications include articles in Publius: The Journal of Federalism, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, State and Local Government Review, and the Journal of Urban Affairs. He grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


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