Michael T. Heaney is a Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow and an Adjunct Research Professor in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan.  He is a political scientist who studies how social networks, social movements, interest groups, and political parties shape organizational processes and policy outcomes.  With Fabio Rojas, he is author of Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11 (Cambridge University Press, 2015).  With Melody Shemtov and Marco Roldán, he is creator, producer, and writer of a documentary film, The Activists: War, Peace, and Politics in the Streets (Melofims, 2017 [2012]).  Michael received a Ph.D. in Political Science and Public Policy from the University of Chicago.  He has been a faculty member at the University of Michigan and the University of Florida, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, and a Congressional Fellow for the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

What is your research on? Give a little background

My research focuses on two areas.The first area is grassroots political mobilization in the United States, the second area is lobbying and networking among lobbyist.

What led you to become a research faculty mentor with UROP?

When I was an undergraduate I had the opportunity to do research with a number of faculty members at my undergraduate institution. I really enjoyed that and I learned a great deal from it, so I wanted to provide the same experience to students at the University of Michigan.

How do students contribute to the work that you’re doing? What is their role?

I first became involved with UROP in the Fall of 2009, so I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now. The major role that the students play in my research is helping me to produce data sets, so they collect data, enter the data, clean the data and code the data, this enables me to perform statistical analysis. I would say that’s about 90% of the work that they do, and sometimes the other times they also read manuscripts by working on and off the comments or do some of their own statistical analysis.

Can you describe a time when you had a great experience with one of your own mentors?

Well I have been blessed to have many great mentors in my life, Probably the most important mentor that I had was my high school debate coach, she really worked closely with me for three years and helped me learn how to write, and speak and do research and she and I are still friends.

What did that mentor instill in you that you practice with your mentees today?

Probably the most important lesson that I learned from my high school debate coach was to be disciplined and focused on the task at hand. And that’s something that I really work to instill in the people that with me.

What do you enjoy most about being a research mentor?

I enjoy it when the students are able to see the connection between the data we’ve been collecting and the questions they have about the political world.

What piece of advice would you give to current UROP students?

The most important piece of advice that I would give to current students is that they should start thinking now about writing a senior thesis. Your UROP mentor is a possible senior thesis mentor and it is possible for you to extend the UROP project that you’re working on now into a senior thesis.