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50+1 Influential Researchers Whose Work Could Help Shape 21st Century Politicians

At Apolitical Foundation, we explore the research on how to best cultivate reflective, representative and informed politicians. Below are some of the researchers we’ve found from around the world. This list originally included 50 researchers but we extended it to spotlight Dr. Andrea Römmele. We’re delighted to have her on the list because she, like us, is based in Berlin and is doing great work.

We received great suggestions while compiling this list and had to leave deserving researchers out. We will continue to watch their work and keep them in mind for future lists. We want to thank all suggested researchers for their hard work and dedication.

This list is by no means exhaustive and we can see some representation gaps. We welcome your continued feedback and suggestions. We want to hear about researchers with all kinds of lived experiences and expertise. Contact us via email or on social media.


Representative Politicians

Dr. Stefanie Reher

Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of Strathclyde Glasgow

Stefanie Reher studies how well public policy reflects the preferences and views of citizens, what explains differences in representation between different social groups and countries, and how it affects individuals' attitudes towards their political system. Her current work focuses in particular on access to politics for disabled people.

Follow Dr. Reher on Twitter and LinkedIn. Image: University of Strathclyde


Dr. Yolande Bouka

Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University

Yolande Bouka’s research and teaching focus on gender, African politics and security, political violence, and field research ethics in conflict-affected societies. She is currently researching a new project on political protests in Africa and concluding a project on women’s agency in non-state armed groups.

Follow Dr. Bouka on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Dr. Kelly Dittmar

Associate Professor of Political Science, Rutgers-Camden; Director of Research and CAWP Scholar See: A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen's Perspectives on Why Their Presence Matters

Kelly Dittmar is the co-author of A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen’s Perspectives on Why Their Representation Matters and author of Navigating Gendered Terrain: Stereotypes and Strategy in Political Campaigns. Dittmar’s research focuses on gender and American political institutions. She was an American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellow from 2011 to 2012.

Follow Dr. Dittmar on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Image: Rutgers University


Dr. Seiki Tanaka

Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Groningen

Seiki Tanaka studies the microfoundations of social diversity and conflicts and how different groups of people—different gender, ethnic, income, and national groups—can co-exist in an era of globalization and technological advancement.

Follow Dr. Tanaka on LinkedIn.

Image: Yale MacMillan Center


Dr. Sithembile Mbete

Senior Lecturer at University of Pretoria, Visiting Research Fellow at African Leadership Center, King’s College London, and Director of Programmes at Futurelect, an Apolitical Academy in Southern Africa

Sithembile Mbete teaches international relations and South African politics at the University of Pretoria. Sithembile completed her PhD in International Relations in 2018 with a thesis titled “The Middle Power Debate Revisited: South Africa in the UNSC, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012”.

Follow Dr. Mbete on Twitter and LinkedIn. Image: Pretoria University


Dr. Nankyung Choi

Visiting Faculty Fulbright University Vietnam

Nankyung Choi has published in journals such as the Journal of Contemporary Asia, South East Asia Research and International Feminist Journal of Politics. She published Local Politics in Indonesia: Pathways to Power in 2011. Her courses include Women and Politics in Asia and Youth and Society in Asia. Image: City University of Hong Kong


Dr. Manon Tremblay

Professor of Political Studies at University of Ottawa

Manon Tremblay’s research interests include LGBTQ politics, and gender/women in politics. Her most recent publications include Queer Mobilizations: Social Movement Activism and Canadian Public Policy and The Lesbian and Gay Movement and the State. Image: University of Ottawa


Dr. Shireen Morris

Senior Lecturer, Macquarie Law School

Shireen Morris is a constitutional lawyer and Director of the Radical Centre Reform Lab at Macquarie University Law School in Sydney, Australia. She specializes in constitutional reform, Indigenous constitutional recognition, free speech, Australian republicanism and democratic decline. She has been invited to visit Chile to provide international insights to help inform the Chilean constitutional reform process.

Follow Dr. Morris on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Dr. Shan-Jan Sarah Liu

Assistant Professor in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh See: Gender Gaps in Political Participation in Asia

Shan-Jan Sarah Liu’s research examines the influence of female political leaders on women’s political participation. It particularly investigates the role model effect of cabinet ministers in democracies, a previously ignored political arena, and the role model effect of legislators in Asia.

Follow Dr. Liu on Twitter.


Dr. Melissa Deckman

CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute

Melissa Deckman has written a number of books, including Women and Politics and Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right. She is currently researching how gender impacts the political engagement of Generation Z, the impact of masculinity on American political attitudes, and Americans’ views about civility in politics.

Follow Dr. Deckman on Twitter. Image: Public Religion Research Institute


Dr. Wendy Smooth

Professor at the Department of Political Science at Ohio State University

Wendy Smooth’s research and teaching focus on women’s experiences in political institutions and the impact of public policies on women’s lives. She is currently working on a book titled, Perceptions of Power and Influence: The Impact of Race and Gender in American State Legislatures. Based on this research, she was awarded the Best Dissertation in Women and Politics by the Women and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

Follow Dr. Smooth on Twitter and LinkedIn. Image: Ohio State University


Dr. Milan Vaishnav

Director and Senior Fellow of the South Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Milan Vaishnav’s primary research focus is the political economy of India, and he examines issues such as corruption and governance, state capacity, distributive politics, and electoral behavior. He is author of When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics and host of the Carnegie Endowment’s weekly podcast on Indian politics and policy, Grand Tamasha.

Follow Milan Vaishnav on Twitter.


Dr. Shauna Shames

Associate Professor of Political Science and director of the Gender Studies program at Rutgers-Camden.

Shauna Shames’ primary area of academic interest is American politics, with a focus on gender, race, LGBTQ+ politics, social movements, and political ambition. She is the author of Out of the Running: Why Millennials Reject Political Careers and Why it Matters' and co-author of Survive & Resist: The Definitive Guide to Dystopian Politics. Image: Rutgers University


Dr. Victoria Hasson

Founder of Silent MP

Victoria Hasson is the former Senior Parliamentary Advisor at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and holds a doctorate that looked at the deliberative performance of parliamentarians in South Africa at the start of the new democracy. She is passionate about understanding and sharing the political experience through The Silent MP, a platform that draws on various aspects of this experience, in order to promote a more humanized and authentic political society.

Follow Dr. Hasson on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


Debbie Walsh

Director at the Center for American Women in Politics (CAWP) at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University

Debbie Walsh joined the Center staff in 1981 and became the director in 2001. She is a member of the Circle of Advisors to Rachel's Network and was named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews. CAWP is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women's political participation.

Follow Debbie Walsh on Twitter and LinkedIn. Image: Rutgers University


Dr. Muhammad Yasir Khan

Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh

See: Barriers to Political Entry: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan (Work in progress)

Muhammad Yasir Khan’s research lies at the intersection of development economics, behavioral economics, and political economy. He looks at issues of public service delivery in developing countries and uses experiments to identify ways for improvement.

Follow Dr. Muhammad Yasir Khan on LinkedIn. Image: University of Pittsburgh


Effective Politicians

Dr. Saad Gulzar

Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University (from September 2022) See: “Good Politicians”: Experimental Evidence on Motivations for Political Candidacy and Government Performance Saad Gulzar aims to demonstrate that incorporating non-elite voices in government robustly improves policy. His work brings evidence from Pakistan, India, and Nepal to show that those not considered traditionally elite are in fact equally, if not more, capable of competent governance. Follow Dr. Gulzar on Twitter and LinkedIn


Marcos Peña

Americas Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Marcos Peña is an Argentinian politician, author and political scientist who served as Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers from 2015 to 2019. He is a founding member of the Propuesta Republicana (PRO) political party and has held positions in various NGOs, including the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth and Poder Ciudadano. Follow Mr. Peña on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook


Dr. James Weinberg

Lecturer in Political Behavior and Leverhulme early career fellow at the University of Sheffield

James Weinberg has published research on topics as wide-ranging as the personalities and mental health of politicians, trust in politics, and the practice and politics of democratic education. His current fellowship, based on three years of research with politicians in multiple democracies, focuses on how politicians navigate their occupational lives and govern effectively in an age of distrust.

Follow Dr. Weinberg on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Dr. Dan Honig

Associate Professor of Public Policy, University College London

Dan Honig’s research focuses on the relationship between organizational structure, management practice, and performance in developing country governments and organizations that provide foreign aid. Honig is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Mission Driven Bureaucrats, focused on how best to attract, retain, and cultivate mission-oriented motivation in public servants worldwide.

Follow Dr. Honig on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Dr. Nayef Al-Rodhan

Honorary Fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, Senior Fellow and Head of the Geopolitics and Global Futures Program, Geneva Center for Security, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, UK, and a member of the Council on Frontier Risks at the World Economic Forum (WEF)

Professor Nayef R. F. Al-Rodhan is a Neuroscientist, Philosopher and Geostrategist. He was educated at the Mayo Clinic, Yale University and Harvard University, USA. He is a Prize winning scholar and was voted amongst the top 30 most influential neuroscientists in the world. He has written 25 books and more than 250 articles. His research focuses on the interplay between: analytic neurophilosophy, geopolitics, global security, global futures, outer space security, transcultural synergies, disruptive technologies, AI and machine learning, transhumanism, international relations and global order.


Sharath Jeevan OBE

Founder & Executive Chairman, Intrinsic Labs

Sharath Jeevan is one of the world's leading experts on intrinsic motivation, direction and potential. Sharath is the Executive Chairman of Intrinsic Labs, which supports organizations and leaders all around the world to solve deep motivational challenges, from governments to leading universities and high-profile corporations, from L'Oreal to the London School of Economics. He is the author of Intrinsic: a manifesto to reignite our inner drive.

Follow Sharath Jeevan on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Dr. Peter John Loewen

Professor at Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto

Peter John Loewen is interested in human behavior, especially in the political sphere. He is the Director of the Policy, Election and Representation Lab (PEARL), Associate Director of the Schwartz Reisman Institute, a Senior Fellow at Massey College, and a Fellow with the Public Policy Forum. For 2020-2022, he is a Distinguished Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Tel Aviv University.

Image: University of Toronto


21st Century Democracy

Dr. Sergei Guriev

Provost, Sciences Po, Paris

Sergei Guriev’s research interests include contract theory, corporate governance, political economics and labor mobility. He is Research Fellow at the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and member of the Executive Committee of the International Economic Association. In 2016-19, he served as the Chief Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Follow Dr. Guriev on Twitter.


Dr. Athaulla Rasheed

PhD Candidate at the Australian National University

Athaulla is a PhD candidate at the Department of Pacific Affairs. His focus is on international relations, particularly on small island developing states (SIDS), climate change and international politics and security. Athaulla’s current research at DPA looks at international politics and construction of climate security in SIDS.

Follow Dr. Rasheed on LinkedIn. Image: Australian National University


Dr. Mathew Y.H Wong

Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences, the Education University of Hong Kong.

Mathew Y.H Wong’s research interests include comparative politics and comparative political economy, income inequality and redistribution, democracy and democratization and Asian politics (Hong Kong/Macao, China's rising influence).

Image: Education University of Hong Kong


Dr. Margaret Levi

Department of Political Science, Stanford University

Margaret Levi is an American political scientist and author, noted for her work in comparative political economy, labor politics, and democratic theory, notably on the origins and effects of trustworthy government. She is also a professor of political science and the director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. She also co-authored In the Interest of Others: Organizations and Social Activism.

Follow Dr. Levi on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Dr. Mario Scharfbillig

Policy Analyst, Science for Policy at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre

Mario Scharfbillig is a behavioral economist who studies values, social identities and polarization and their influence on political behavior and the uptake of scientific evidence. Since 2019, he works as behavioral researcher at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission with a focus on improving evidence-informed policymaking in the EU.

Follow Dr. Scharfbillig on Twitter and LinkedIn. Image: Alexander Dzionara


Dani Rodrik

Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government

Dani Rodrik is an economist whose research revolves around globalization, economic growth and development, and political economy. His current work focuses on how to create more inclusive economies, in developed and developing societies. He is currently President of the International Economic Association, and co-director of Economics for Inclusive Prosperity. His newest books are Combating Inequality: Rethinking Government's Role and Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy.

Follow Dani Rodrik on Twitter.


Dr. Thamy Pogrebinschi

Senior Researcher at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Coordinator of LATINNO (Innovations for Democracy in Latin America), and Faculty Member at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at the Humboldt University in Berlin

Thamy Pogrebenschi focuses on democratic innovations, new forms of citizen participation, and their impact on policy and democracy at the macro level in Latin America. She is also interested in the role digital technology plays on representation and participation and collective intelligence.

Follow Innovations for Democracy in Latin America on Twitter.


Nanjira Sambuli

Fellow in Technology and International Affairs at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Nanjira Sambuli is a researcher, policy analyst and strategist interested in and working on understanding the unfolding, gendered impacts of ICT adoption on governance, diplomacy, media, entrepreneurship and culture.

Follow Nanjira Sambuli on LinkedIn.

Image: Lancet/FT Commission on Governing Health Futures 2030


Dr. Helen Thompson

Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University

Helen Thompson has been at Cambridge since 1994. Her current research concentrates on the political economy of energy and the long history of the democratic, economic, and geopolitical disruptions of the twenty-first century.

Follow Dr. Thompson on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Joseph Asunka

CEO at Afrobarometer

Joseph Asunka has served as CEO of Afrobarometer since April 2021. He was previously program officer in the Global Development and Population program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Joseph’s research interests include distributive politics, elections and electoral processes, and migration.

Follow Joseph Asunka on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Dr. Andrea Römmele

Dean of Executive Education and Professor of Communication in Politics and Civil Society at the Hertie School.

Andrea Römmele’s research interests are comparative political communications, political parties and public affairs. She was Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Modern German Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012/13 and has been a visiting fellow at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, and the Australian National University in Canberra. She is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal for Political Consulting and Policy Advice.

Follow Andrea Römmele on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


Interacting with Parties and Candidate Selection

Dr. Xavier Coller

Professor of Sociology, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain

Xavier Coller has authored over one hundred works on social theories, research methods, collective identities, political elites and complex organizations. His areas of expertise are organizations (parties, multinationals) and political sociology (political elites, nationalism).

Follow Dr. Coller on Twitter and LinkedIn. Image: Universidad Pablo de Olavide


Dr. Guillermo Cordero

Political Science Professor, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Guillermo Cordero is Coordinator of the Research Group “Actores y Élites Políticas”, and Co-chair of the Research Network “Political Parties, Party Systems and Elections” at the Council for European Studies (CES). His research interests include electoral behavior, political representation and the study of political elites.

Follow Dr. Cordero on Twitter.


Dr. Catherine E. De Vries

Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Political Science at Bocconi University

Catherine E. De Vries’s work covers political behavior, political economy and EU politics. She has appeared in leading political science journals, such as the American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics. Her first book Euroscepticism and the Future of European Integration received the European Union Studies Association Best Book in EU Studies Award in 2019 and was listed in the top-5 books on Europe’s future by the Financial Times.


Dr. Peter M. Siavelis

Professor, Department of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University

Peter Siavelis currently works at the Department of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University. Peter does research in Comparative Democratization, Comparative Politics and Representation and Electoral Systems. His current project is “Candidate selection processes in new and established democracies”.

Follow Dr. Siavelis on LinkedIn.

Image: Wake Forest University


Dr. Jo Silvester

Professor of Work Psychology, Loughborough University

Jo Silvester is a Professor of Work Psychology. Her research has been foundational in understanding the nature of political work within legislatures and political parties, as well as its importance in business and the public sector.


Dr. Giulia Sandri

Associate Professor in Political Science, ESPOL - Université Catholique de Lille

Giulia Sandri’s primary areas of academic interest are studies on digital politics, political parties, the quality of democracy and political behavior. She has recently co-edited a book with Antonella Seddone entitled New Paths for Selecting Political Elites. Giulia Sandri participates in “RECONNECT”, a multidisciplinary research project funded by the Horizon 2020 political party over four years, with the aim of “Reconciling Europe with its citizens through democracy and the Rule of Law”.

Follow Dr. Sandri on LinkedIn.


Dr. Yael Shomer

Senior Lecturer in the School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs, Tel-Aviv University

Dr. Yael Shomer’s broad research interests are in comparative politics and democratic institutions, and she specializes in legislative politics, electoral systems, candidate selection processes, parties and party systems and quantitative methodology. Prior to her academic career, Shomer was the secretary of the Governor of the Bank of Israel, and a project coordinator in the Israel National Council for the Child.

Follow Dr. Shomer on Twitter. Image: Tel-Aviv University


Dr. Flavia Freidenberg

Professor of the Graduate Program in Political and Social Sciences at UNAM. Founder and Coordinator of the Network of Women Political Scientists - #NoSinMujeres.

Flavia Freidenberg’s work includes projects on elections, representation, candidate selection and political reforms. She has been a graduate and postgraduate professor at universities in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay.

Follow Flavia Freidenberg on LinkedIn.

Image: UNAM


Dr. Gideon Rahat

Professor, Chair of Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Gideon Rahat holds the Gersten Family Chair in Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been studying comparative politics and Israeli politics, focusing on the politics of reform, democratic institutions, political parties, candidate and leadership selection and political personalization. He has been the co-editor of the book series The Elections in Israel since 2015.

Image: Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Thibault Muzergues

Program Director, Europe & Euro-Med, International Republican Institute

Thibault Muzergues has been working at the International Republican Institute since 2017. Prior to this, he was a fundraiser and direct marketing consultant to France’s leading party UMP and Nicolas Sarkozy, and for the Conservative party at local and regional level in the United Kingdom. Specialized in geopolitics, political parties and election campaigns, he is the author of The Great Class Shift: How New Social Structures Are Redefining Western Politics and War in Europe? From Impossible War to Improbable Peace.

Follow Thibault Muzergues on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Good Political Leadership Programs

Dr. Michael Beer

Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School

Michael Beer has researched and written widely about organization effectiveness, organizational change, high commitment, high performance organizations, leadership and human resource management. He is author or co-author of twelve books, in addition to numerous book chapters and articles in academic and business journals.

Image: Harvard Business School


Dr. Robert M. Yawson

Associate Professor of Management at the Quinnipiac School of Business.

Robert has over 110 publications including peer review papers in several leading academic journals. His current research is on using the "wicked problem construct" for leading organizational development and change and using a systems approach to human resource development for emerging technologies.

Follow Dr. Yawson on Twitter and LinkedIn. Image: Quinnipiac School of Business


Nicolai Chen Nielsen

Partner at the Supertrends Institute

Nicolai Chen Nielsen spent ten years focusing on leadership development, organizational transformations and innovation at the McKinsey & Company. He is now at Supertrends, where he focuses on the intersection of the latest trends and their implications on leaders and organizations.

Follow Nicolai Chen Nielsen on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


What Politicians Need to Thrive in Office

Dame Jane Roberts

Research Fellow at the Public Leadership at The Open University Business School

A medical doctor since 1980, Dame Jane Roberts practiced as an NHS Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist until the end of 2016 and she has experience of healthcare management. She was Leader of the London Borough of Camden from 2000 to 2005. She chaired the Councillors Commission for the Department of Communities and Local Government and, amongst other roles, she chairs the think tank New Local Government Network.

Image: Wales Centre for Public Policy


Dr. Richard Kwiatkowski

Professor of Organizational Psychology and Head of the Applied Psychology and Organizational Behavior Group, Cranfield University

Richard Kwiatkowski is an established psychologist who has been actively developing people and organizations for over 35 years. His scholarly interests center around the application of psychology to organizations and individuals; this includes work on culture change and resistance, on assessment, on emotional aspects of learning and change, on applied ethics and in political psychology.

Follow Dr. Kwiatkowski on LinkedIn.

Image: Cranfield University


Dr. Pär Zetterberg

Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at the Department of Government at Uppsala University.

Pär Zetterberg's research lies within the area of comparative politics and focuses on issues such as political recruitment and political representation in a comparative perspective, electoral quotas, and violence against politicians. Particular attention is paid to the examination of how gender inequalities in politics are produced, reproduced, and overcome. He is also interested in how young people develop their political attitudes and behavior.

Follow Dr. Zetterberg on Twitter.


Dr. Jenny Madestam

Senior Lecturer at Södertörns University Stockholm

Jenny Madestam studies collectivistic forms of leadership among principals in schools and leaders in Swedish parties, as well as social media in political leadership. As a postdoc, she ran a project about leader recruitment processes in three Swedish parties.

Follow Dr. Madestam on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


Dr. Mona Lena Krook

Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women & Politics Ph.D. Program, Rutgers University

Mona Lena Krook has written widely on the adoption and impact of electoral gender quotas, as well as the rising global phenomenon of violence against women in politics. Her first book, Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide, has informed quota reforms around the world and received two major awards from the American Political Science Association (APSA). Her newest book, Violence against Women in Politics, won the 2022 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. In 2021, she was honored with the APSA Distinguished Award for Civic and Community Engagement for her related work with the National Democratic Institute on the #NotTheCost campaign to stop violence against politically active women around the world.

Follow Dr. Mona Lena Krook on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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