Neil S. Williams is a fifth-year PhD candidate in political science at the University of Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2015 with a B.A. in International Affairs and Spanish, as well as a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. His primary research interests are comparative political behavior, attitudes towards democracy, and applied quantitative methodology.
As the child of Barbadian immigrants, understanding political systems and behavior has significant personal meaning to him, especially with regards to inequalities in under-served communities. This interest has translated into his research agenda on comparative political behavior, especially focusing on the ways individuals interact with and view democracy and its institutions.
His work on democratic institutions has largely focused on institutions that aim to shape democratic progress through means of compelling and shaping both elite and mass behavior. This has therefore focused mainly on the institutions of compulsory voting and gender quotas in a variety of contexts. A book chapter, “Compulsory Voting: The View from Canada and the United States” co-authored with Shane P. Singh and forthcoming in A Century of Compulsory Voting in Australia: Genesis, Impact and Future, examines the history and outlook for compulsory voting in North America. His co-authored article, “Gender Differences in the Impact of Winning on Satisfaction with Democracy”, forthcoming at Electoral Studies, examines the differences in increases in satisfaction with democracy among men and women electoral winners.
In his dissertation, entitled “Evaluating the Origins, Psychology, and Impacts of Democratic Attitudes”, Neil explores the foundations and nuances of democratic attitudes, as well as introduces a novel “psycho-emotional” dimension to democratic attitudes. The dissertation also takes stock of previous work on the most common measure of democratic attitudes: satisfaction with democracy. Other work currently in progress looks at the relationships between conditional cash transfer programs in Latin America and the Caribbean and how they relate to clientelism and political participation, as well as the effects of gender quotas on satisfaction with democracy.
Neil’s research projects and output have also been supported with multiple grants. These grants and awards include the Tapley Bennett Award for Research Productivity ($800), the Graduate School Innovative and Interdisciplinary Research Grant ($2000), the Clute-Nigro Fund ($400), and SPIA Departmental Seed Grant ($4000).
Beyond research, Neil has experience teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level in topics ranging from comparative political behavior, American politics, global issues, and statistics. He has served as the instructor of record for three separate honors sections of Introduction to Global Issues at the University of Georgia over the course of the 2019-2020 Academic Year. Furthermore, as evidence of his success as an instructor, he was awarded the Office of Instruction Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and Christopher S. Allen Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching awards in the Spring of 2019. With regard to prior experience teaching graduate-level statistics, among hundreds of applicants, he was selected to serve as a teaching assistant for Bayesian Modeling for the Social Sciences I: Introduction and Application at the ICPSR Summer program in the summers of 2018, 2019, and 2020, and as a teaching assistant for Statistics and Data Analysis II: The Basics of Regression in 2020.
Furthermore, at the University of Georgia he has organized departmental workshops on data analysis for our graduate students. These workshops introduced students to efficient ways of managing and analyzing data using R and Stata. He also leads graduate workshops that allow graduate students to present research and discuss working projects, giving students a constructive space to share and improve their work. He is also a member of the School and Public and International Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, a monthly meeting where faculty, staff, and students discuss issues important to advancing and leveling the academic space. Discussions center on ways to better address the needs of all people at the University and rectify systemic imbalances.