Student
Parrish Bergquist

I am a doctoral candidate in the Departments of Political Science and Urban Studies & Planning at MIT. I study public opinion, political representation, and state politics in the U.S., with a particular focus on environmental policy. Broadly, I pursue research that illuminates the political context within which environmental challenges are situated, and link insights about the political world back to their practical importance for environmental solutions. 

My dissertation focuses on political influence over environmental enforcement and over the bureaucracy more broadly. I use a mixed-methods approach to first identify the effect of party control of governors' offices and state legislatures on state agencies’ enforcement activities under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Next I use the results from this quantitative analysis to select case studies for qualitative process tracing. I use in-depth qualitative analysis to explore the mechanisms by which political influence over the bureaucracy is facilitated or hindered. I am also working to expand the quantitative analysis to identify political influence over other types of regulatory enforcement.

I am also working on collaborative and independent projects focused on public opinion about environmental issues. These include one project to assess the causes and consequences of changing state-level public attitudes about environmental protection over time; a second that describes state-level concern about climate change and asks whether changes in climate indicators influence public concern about climate change; and a third that explores rural communities' views about large-scale energy infrastructure projects. 

My work is particularly important at a moment when those interested in advancing environmental solutions look to the states for leadership and progress. I hope that my research will advance both my fields—environmental policy and American politics—in ways that will inform both scholarship and practice. 

I grew up in Birmingham, AL, and earned a B.A. at the University of Virginia and Masters degrees in environmental policy and urban planning from the University of Michigan. Other highlights from life before graduate school include serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras and working for the Federal Trade Commission, City of Ann Arbor, and National Association of Development Organizations. If I'm away from my desk, check outside; I'm probably running, hiking, cycling, or climbing.