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The Structural Democratic Reforms Project


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Katherine Clayton

Political Science, Stanford University

Katie Clayton is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University and a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She was previously a pre-doctoral research fellow in the Quantitative Social Science program at Dartmouth College, working for Bright Line Watch. She received her BA from Dartmouth in 2018 with a double major in Government and French and was valedictorian of her graduating class.


Katie studies public opinion and political behavior, with an emphasis on democratic norms, identity politics, and survey methodology in both the United States and abroad. Her dissertation project examines how citizens react to democratic backsliding as it incrementally unfolds in front of them. Her research has been published or is forthcoming at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Political Science Research and Methods, Research and Politics, Political Behavior, and the Journal of Experimental Political Science, among others, and has received coverage in a variety of major media outlets. Her book, Campus Diversity: The Hidden Consensus, was published at Cambridge University Press in 2020.


At Stanford, Katie collaborates with the Polarization and Social Change Lab (PASCL), the Center for American Democracy (SCAD) at the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS), and the Female Athlete Science and Translational Research Program (FASTR). Outside of her work in the social sciences, she is a competitive triathlete, a coach, and an advocate for women in sport.

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Robb Willer

Sociology, Stanford University

Robb Willer is a Professor of Sociology, Psychology, and Business at Stanford University where he is Director of the Polarization Social Change Lab and Co-Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Professor Willer’s teaching and research focus on the bases of social order. One line of his research investigates the factors driving the emergence of collective action, norms, solidarity, generosity, and status hierarchies. In other research, he explores the social psychology of political attitudes, including the effects of fear, prejudice, and masculinity in contemporary U.S. politics. Most recently, his work has focused on morality, studying how people reason about what is right and wrong and the social consequences of their judgments.


His research involves various empirical and theoretical methods, including laboratory and field experiments, surveys, direct observation, archival research, physiological measurement, agent-based modeling, and social network analysis.


Brendan Nyhan

Political Science, Dartmouth College

Brendan Nyhan is the James O. Freedman Presidential Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His research, which focuses on misperceptions about politics and health care, has been published in journals including Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Nature Human Behaviour, Pediatrics, and Vaccine. Nyhan was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2023 and previously was named a Guggenheim Fellow by the Guggenheim Foundation, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and a Belfer Fellow by the Anti-Defamation League. He also received the Emerging Scholar Award for the top scholar in the field within 10 years of his Ph.D. by the American Political Science Association's section on Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior.

Nyhan received his Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Duke University and previously served as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research and Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

He is a co-director of Bright Line Watch, a watchdog group that monitors the status of American democracy. Nyhan was previously a contributor to The Upshot at The New York Times and GEN/Medium and a media critic for Columbia Journalism Review. You can follow his public commentary on politics and the media in his Threads feed or on his blog, where he posts updates on new public-facing interviews and articles.

Previously, Nyhan was a founder and editor of Spinsanity, a non-partisan watchdog of political spin that was syndicated in Salon and the Philadelphia Inquirer, along with Ben Fritz and Bryan Keefer. Together they co-authored All the President's Spin, a New York Times bestseller that Amazon named one of the best political books of 2004. Before graduate school, he worked as a marketing and fundraising consultant for Benetech, a Silicon Valley technology nonprofit, and as Deputy Communications Director of the Bernstein for US Senate campaign in Nevada.


Jonne Kamphorst

Political Science, European University Institute

Jonne Kamphorst is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Political Science at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence and a Senior Research Fellow at the Polarization and Social Change Lab (PASCL) at Stanford University. In the 2024-2025 academic year he will join Stanford University as a Postdoctoral Scholar. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at the EUI in 2023. Before starting his Doctoral Degree, Jonne was a Master’s student in Politics and Sociology at the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics and obtained his Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Amsterdam.


His research, positioned at the intersection between comparative politics and political behavior, explores the roots of political divides in advanced democracies and proposes strategies to bridge them. Two questions define his research agenda: 1) What are the origins of political divisions? And 2) how can democracy be strengthened by re-engaging citizens and building new coalitions of voters that bridge political divides? Jonne answers these questions leveraging quantitative scientific methods. His methodological expertise is in the design, conduct, and analysis of randomized field and survey experiments which he often employs in collaboration with political candidates and parties. He also uses quasi-experimental methods for causal inference. Jonne’s research has been published in or is forthcoming at the PNAS, American Political Science Review, and Journal of Politics, among other outlets.

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