SPIA is excited to introduce Garrett Vande Kamp!

Dr. Garrett Vande Kamp earned his PhD from Texas A&M University in 2019. Dr. Vande Kamp leads a dual research agenda in judicial politics and political methodology. His substantive research confronts the puzzle of judicial review by constitutional courts in the shadow of punitive measures by the executive and legislative branches of government. When he’s not working, Dr. Vande Kamp spends time with his friends and family and plays Ultimate Frisbee and disc golf.


Q: What attracted you to UGA? 

GVK: Where to begin? The commitment to research, the warmth of my colleagues, the quality of the students, the scenery of Georgia, the atmosphere of Athens, the darn good football team, the perks of professor life…should I keep going?


Q: Where did you grow up? 

GVK: I come from a suburb of Shreveport, Louisiana. All the Cajuns of South Louisiana say it’s part of Texas, and all the Texans say it’s part of Louisiana. But I loved being there!


Q: What was your favorite part of your college experience?

GVK: I got to practice being an adult in a low-risk environment. Pursuing a career, participating in social and political causes, and having a fun social life. If stuff worked out for me, great! If not, I could just write it off as a stupid college mistake that doesn’t have to define my life. No shame in failure if you learn from it!


Q: What is your favorite food?

GVK: There are too many good foods to pick just one! In fact, I’m probably better defined by my least favorite foods. Uncooked meats are awful (sushi, ceviche, and rare steaks). My tolerance for spiciness is low for a Louisiana boy. Bitter foods and drinks are terrible. And I will not be in the presence of anyone who eats mint chocolate. It’s the single most repulsive combination of flavors imaginable.


Q: Please tell us one fun fact about you.

GVK: This past Christmas, I got SpongeBob socks for all my siblings as stocking stuffers. I am currently wearing a pair featuring Barnacle Boy.


Q: What is one goal you have for yourself for the next year?

GVK: I’d like to find a nice lady to settle down with! But in a town where most single women are affiliated with the university, that’s a bit tough. So I’ll settle with publishing in the American Journal of Political Science, our discipline’s top journal. 


Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

GVK: I don’t know if I have one for my entire life. But as a principle, accomplishments are only notable if they’re done in the service of others. So for this past year, my biggest accomplishment is not spreading COVID because I followed safety guidelines in my personal life and allowed all of my students to be online-only. I haven’t gotten COVID yet, and here’s to hoping I won’t until I’m vaccinated!


Q: Who inspires you in your research or career?

GVK: The whole world inspires me! Every time I evaluate my work, whether it’s my research or teaching, I think as to how it will help people. If I don’t think it will have an impact, it goes to the bottom of my priority list.


Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

GVK: Being a Jedi looks pretty dope. Professor Hulk also had a cool schtick going on. But old age is creeping up on me, so maybe some sort of extended youth type thing like Captain America. Or maybe immunity to old age like the elves in Lord of the Rings. 


Q: What advice do you have for SPIA students?
GVK: Take advantage of your tuition dollars! UGA provides a ton of opportunities for you to grow as a scholar, professional, and person. Use them to their fullest extent, and don’t get distracted by the more frivolous pursuits Athens has to offer.