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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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”.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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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”.
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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”.
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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.
See: Territorio y poder : nuevos actores y competencia política en los sistemas de partidos multinivel en América Latina (Territory and Power: New Actors and Political Competition in Multilevel Party Systems in Latin America)
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.
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.