University of Illinois at Chicago



Expertise:

none

David F. Merriman is the leader of IGPA's Working Group on the Fiscal Health of Illinois. His major area of study is state and local public finance. Merriman directs The Fiscal Futures Project, which created and maintains of a comprehensive and consistently defined measure of the Illinois state budget.  He has published extensively about the effect of tax increment finance policy on local economic growth and the determinants of tobacco tax avoidance. He has also studied Walmart’s impact on urban economic development. His most recent research concerns state and local business taxation.

IGPA Research By



Expertise:

none

Benjamin M. Superfine is a member of the working group on Education and Learning, and is a professor in the College of Education at UIC, where his research interests center on education law and policy.

Superfine received his J.D. and Ph.D. in Education Foundations and Policy from the University of Michigan. Before joining UIC, Superfine practiced law at Dow Lohnes PLLC in Washington, D.C. Superfine's research focuses on the history of education law and policy, school finance reform, standards-based reform and accountability, teacher evaluation, and collective bargaining. His research is interdisciplinary and addresses educational issues through the lenses of law, history, and social science. He is the founder and Director of the Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative at UIC.



Expertise:

none

Rachel Weber is a member of the working group on the Fiscal Health of Illinois. She is a professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she conducts research in economic development, real estate, and public finance. She has expertise in the areas of urban and regional economic development, public finance, municipal government law, planning theory, andreal estate. She has conducted extensive research on the impact of changes in capital markets on urban economies and the built environment. She has also written on school and infrastructure finance, the effect of e-commerce on bricks-and-mortar retailers, the design of incentive contracts, and participatory budgeting. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning and author of From Boom to Bubble: How Finance Built the New Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Weber was appointed by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force and was a member of the Urban Policy Advisory Committee for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.



Expertise:

none

Catherine Main is a member of the Education and Learning working group. She is a senior lecturer in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her clinical and research interests focus on developing early childhood educators to serve in under-resourced, urban environments.

She has more than 20 years of teaching experiences in preschool, kindergarten, primary grades, and university settings. Her work includes innovative and responsive program development in Early Childhood Education at UIC. Main designed and developed a Blended Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education program and an Early Childhood Alternative certification program. She provides consultation, professional development, and program evaluation services for a variety of organizations and regularly presents her program work at national conferences and as an invited speaker at local conferences. Main also serves on several advisory groups and boards including the Illinois Early Learning Council Program Standards and Quality Committee, the Harold Washington Chicago Community College Child Development Program Advisory Board, and is a member of the Illinois Articulation Initiative Early Childhood panel.  She is co-chair of the Illinois Higher Education Learning and Professional Development Work Group, the lead on the state team participating in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Innovation to Incubation (i2I) program focusing on Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce, and the current President of Illinois Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (ILAECTE).

IGPA Research By



Expertise:

none

Christopher Z. Mooney is the W. Russell Arrington Professor of State Politics in the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mooney served as director of IGPA from 2013 through 2017, and from 2004-2013, he was an IGPA faculty member at University of Illinois at Springfield. Mooney studies comparative U.S. state politics, with special focus on state legislatures, and he is a noted expert on term limits. Since 2010, the American Political Science Association’s State Politics and Policy section has awarded the annual Christopher Z. Mooney Prize for the best dissertation the field. In 2012, Mooney was awarded that section’s Career Achievement Award, and in 2017, he was elected to a two-year term as its president.

The main focus of Mooney’s research involves the study of state politics and policy in the United States. In particular, Mooney’s work deals with state legislatures,, lawmaking, and morality policymaking. He is currently working on a long-term project exploring how state legislators think about cause and effect in public policy. He also is the co-author of one of the leading undergraduate textbooks in his field, State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform, published by Wadsworth/Cengage.



Expertise:

none

Maria Krysan focuses her research on racial residential segregation and racial attitudes. She is the primary author of Trends in Racial Attitudes, a website that compiles results of several national surveys that have been tracking Americans’ racial attitudes from as early as the 1940s. Krysan's investigations of these substantive issues often connect to methodological questions about how to study this sensitive area of social life. She combines standard closed-ended survey analysis with mode of administration experiments, analyses of open-ended survey questions, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. In addition to an edited volume with Amanda Lewis, The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity, her most recent work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Science Research, Social Problems, and The DuBois Review. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Russell Sage Foundation, and Ford Foundation.  Her most recent work focuses on understanding the causes of residential segregation, particularly as viewed through the question of how people end up living where they do.



Expertise:

none

Rachel Gordon chairs IGPA’s Working Group on Education and Learning. Her research broadly aims to measure and model the contexts of children and families’ lives, often using longitudinal data sets. She has examined numerous contextual and social factors that affect children and families. Some of her work examines the use of child care and preschool quality measures for high-stakes policy purposes, the health outcomes of child care and maternal employment, and the implications of teenagers’ looks for their social and academic achievement. Other work in this area has examined the association between community context and child well-being, the relationships between youth gang participation and delinquency, the causes and consequences of grandmother co-residential support for young mothers, and the evaluation of an innovative job program for young couples.

Gordon has received extensive funding from numerous sources and is currently Principal Investigator (PI) on three external grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Gordon's recent research has examined two widely used measures of quality -- the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) -- including their structural validity (dimensions of each scale), response process validity (order, fit and separation of items along underlying dimensions), and predictive validity specific to cutoffs defined in policy system (Quality Rating and Information Systems; Head Start Recompetition). She and her collaborators studied these aspects of validity across over a dozen datasets, using meta-analyses to systematically accumulate results. Their latest efforts in this vein are harmonizing measures of behavioral health in two large nationally representative datasets. Another stream of research contributes to the growing body of research on physical attractiveness as a source of social stratification with wide implications for health, akin to more frequently studied factors like race and gender. Based on the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, the project created and analyzed the largest-ever public repository of physical attractiveness ratings for a cohort from birth into young adulthood. New work in this line is comparing interviewer- and self-ratings of skin tone to direct assessments made with handheld devices and examining how each associates with personal identities and social inequalities.

IGPA Research By