Stein named Baker Institute fellow in urban politics
BY FRANZ BROTZEN
Rice News staff
Robert Stein, the Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science and a nationally recognized political analyst and expert on elections, has been named the new fellow in urban politics at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.
Stein’s research has examined the cost of conducting elections and the effect of election administration on voter turnout. This work started with several studies funded by the Baker Institute on Election Day voting centers and has expanded to studies of early voting and Election Day precinct voting. His research on election administration is supported by Pew Charitable Trusts.
“I look forward to working with other fellows and scholars at the Baker Institute on topics of importance to Houston and urban areas throughout the U.S.,” Stein said.
A longtime Houstonian who has seen his share of hurricanes and tropical storms, Stein also studies emergency preparation and response. He has co-authored several papers on risk assessment for severe storms, the public’s perceptions of risk and evacuation behavior, and he is presently developing the “Storm Risk Calculator,” an online tool that Houston residents can use to determine their degree of risk when a hurricane moves into the Gulf of Mexico. His research on hurricane preparedness is a collaboration with Rice colleagues Devika Subramanian, professor of computer science, and Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and is funded by the National Science Foundation.
With Baker Institute energy fellow Amy Myers Jaffe, Stein is looking into ways to increase participation in a federally subsidized weatherization program and to better understand how these programs affect energy usage. Last spring, a group of students from Rice working under the supervision of Stein, Jaffe and Stephanie Post, then executive director of the Center for Civic Engagement, completed a study of the determinants of participation in the city of Houston’s home weatherization program. The Houston housing department used this study to design a marketing program in a targeted neighborhood and enrolled 65 households in the weatherization program last summer. Stein and Jaffe are continuing to monitor the long-term implications of the research for the city of Houston.
“Bob Stein is a Houston institution, the man who knows everything about this city’s politics and can explain it with clarity and wit,” said Allen Matusow, the William Gaines Twyman Professor of History and the Baker Institute’s academic affairs director. “Nobody can match his knowledge. He is a tremendous addition to our roster of research fellows.”