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Graduate Student Profile: Maria Pantoja, Political Science

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019 (All day)

Meet UC Davis Graduate Student Maria Pantoja

  • Department
    Political Science
  • Program and year of study
    Ph.D., 4th year 
  • Previous degrees and colleges
    BA Political Science, CSU Stanislaus 
  • Where did you grow up?
    I was born in Mexico, but moved to the US when I was six. I grew up in California’s Central Valley, near Modesto.
  • Where do you live now?
    Davis, CA
  • What's your favorite spot in Davis?
    You’ll probably find me working in various cafes. I also enjoy taking strolls down Davis’ quiet streets.
  • How do you relax?
    Watch TV, read, and spend time with my family and friends.
  • What was the last book you read for pleasure?
    The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú. The author is a former border patrol agent and he recounts his experiences patrolling the border and after he left. It was not the easiest or most relaxing read, but I think it is an important piece and I’m glad I read it. 
  • What TV show are you currently binge-watching?
    King of the Hill. I am just now appreciating how hilarious this show is.
  • Research interests
    I study American politics and am broadly interested in race and ethnic politics, with an emphasis on Latino politics.
  • Dissertation title or topic
    My dissertation will focus on the political ramifications of stigma. I aim to explore how stigma impacts political attitudes and behavior and to compare such potential impacts across historically marginalized groups.
  • Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research
    I’ll get back to you when I have results.
  • Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?
    Professor As’ad AbuKhalil first encouraged me to grad school. It was also his Middle East politics course that truly sparked my interest in political science. Professor Stephen Routh has also been very supportive from when I first applied to today.
  • Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?
    “Do Politicians Racially Discriminate Against Constituents? A Field Experiment on State Legislators” by Daniel M. Butler and David E. Broockman. They test whether legislators’ responsiveness to constituents depends on race by running an experiment where they contacted real legislators with questions about voter registration using white and black aliases. Some political science research can feel very detached from political realities and I appreciated that they engaged in real processes to shed light on the question of inequality.  
  • What's the best thing about being a grad student?
    I love seeing undergraduates learn and grow, especially if they have been struggling. I’ve also met many smart and cool people here. 
  • What's the worst?
    It can feel thankless and overwhelming. Rejection (grants, publishing, etc.) sucks too.
  • If you weren't a grad student, what would you be doing?
    Probably working for the state in some capacity.
  • Finally, please ask yourself a question - "What are you afraid of? (Shout-out to Grads Grilled 34: Peter Torres, because I liked the question.)?"

Dogs. I am so scared of them due to a childhood incident where I was chased by my grandma’s dog, fell, and split my lip open. It’s a strange feeling in a town where about 98% of the people I’ve met/observed are complete dog lovers.

Graduate student profile courtesy of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

About Graduate Studies

Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes over 100 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.

UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.

For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.