Tristan Hightower is a PhD candidate in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. His primary subfield is American Politics with specific interests in Congress, interest groups, and polarization. His secondary field is quantitative methods with a focus on the organizational ecology of interest groups. Before starting graduate school at Maryland, Tristan graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He is also a graduate of the Chancellor’s Honors Program at UT. Outside of academia, Tristan has interned for a U.S. Senator’s field office and on the Hill for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

His dissertation focuses on the importance of context, or issue space, for the formation, longevity, and political activities of interest groups. He presents a theoretical framework arguing that groups do not exist in isolation but are part of a larger issue space where they interact with and are affected by other groups. These dynamics are critical to understanding the life cycle of groups relative to their engagement in the policy process. These dynamics are illustrated across three in-depth empirical analyses that test the theory across common, complex, and polarized issues. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Political Science Research and MethodsPolitical Research QuarterlyInterest Groups & Advocacy, and Pursuit

Before starting graduate school at Maryland, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He is also a graduate of the Chancellor’s Honors Program at UT. Outside of academia, he interned for a U.S. Senator’s field office and on the Hill for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

 

Journal Articles

Hightower, Tristan M., Forthcoming. "The Population Ecology of Interest Groups and Counter-Mobilization: Reproductive Rights Organizations in the United States, 1920-1985." Political Science Research and Methods.

Hightower, Tristan M. 2021. "Packed Pews: Understanding Evangelical Group Formation." Interest Groups & Advocacy 10:221-239.

Gimpel, James G., Tristan M. Hightower, and Patrick C. Wohlfarth. 2021.  "The Geography of Law: Understanding the Origin of State and Federal Redistricting Cases." Political Research Quarterly 74(4): 779-794. 

Hightower, Tristan M. 2019. "Tennessee's Promise: Education for All?" Pursuit - The Journal of Undergraduate Research at the University of Tennessee 9(1): Article 4.

 

Working Papers

"Tracking Formation and Tracing Influence: The U.S. Cranberry Lobby." Presented at the APSA Annual Meeting.

"Save Yourself or Save the Party? Legislative Vulnerability and Bipartisanship." With Kris Miler. Presented at the MPSA Annual Meeting.

"Megachuch Influence in State Politics." Under review. 

"Interest Group Involvment in Federal Redistricting Litigation" with Jim GimpelPatrick Wohlfarth, and Victoria Worley. Presented at MPSA Annual Conference.

"Interest Group Death" with Adam Chamberlain and Ali Yanus. Preliminary stages.

 

Conferences

Regular attendance at SPSA, MPSA, and APSA with over 20 presentations of both solo and co-authored work. A complete listing is available in the CV.

 

Degrees

MA | Government and Politics | University of Maryland | Dec. 2020

BA with honors | Political Science | University of Tennessee | Dec. 2017

 

Areas of Interest

  • Congress
  • Interest Groups/Representation
  • Politics and Religion

Awards

  • 2020-05-01
    UMD BSOS Excellence in Teaching

Research Topics

  • American Politics
  • Methodology
Campus
Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 22CP Student Vice President (2019-present)
Campus
GVPT Graduate Student Association First Year Representative (2018-19)
Campus
GVPT Graduate Student Association Co-Chair (2019-2020)
National
Leadership Consultant, Phi Kappa Phi Biannual Summit, July 2019
National
Mentor, Strive for College, Sep. 2020-Present.
Headshot
3140 Tydings Hall
Government and Politics Department
Email
thighto [at] umd.edu
Office Hours
By Appointment