Biography

This is a mostly academic biography, so I’ll spare you tales of early life and loves.

I trained as a philosopher at the University of Warwick and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison under the inspiring but sometimes terrifying supervision of David Miller. I then lapsed into empirical work by getting an M.Sc. and then a Ph.D in cognitive science and natural language processing at Edinburgh University‘s late, great, Centre for Cognitive Science, where my curious views about neural networks and semantic memory were indulged by Richard Shillcock and David Willshaw.

Just about then I met Joanna. J. Bryson. I can’t generate an adequate short description of all the things she gets up to so you’d better read her web pages. Dr. B. had a Ph.D. to finish at M.I.T. so I took a visiting fellowship in Daniel Dennett‘s Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts. But just as a promising interdisciplinary career in the cognitive sciences beckoned, something unexpected happened. Gary King tempted me into political science by offering incredible intellectual company at CBRSS (the precursor to IQSS, but with smaller whiteboards). I also got to work on an awesome cherrywood desk. Although I went on to work at the Weatherhead Center with Iain Johnston and Yoshiko Herrera, I managed to keep the furniture.

Dr. B. got a job at Bath and I went to work with Ken Benoit at Trinity College, Dublin. I also helped run Wordmap, an enterprise software company. I worked mainly on the EU 5th framework project Parmenides where I learnt a lot. Most importantly, how to pronounce it. Apparently you stress the ‘i’.

I was then a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham in the Methods and Data Institute in the School of Politics and International Relations with Cees van der Eijk. Although he’s much too polite to correct you, he’s pronounced “Case”. At Nottingham I also spent a lot of time with the fine folk at the Human Rights Law Centre, working on the International Criminal Court‘s Legal Tools project.

But fun as all this postdoc-ing was, I needed to get a proper job. So I did, in the Department of Political Science at the University of Maastricht, where I was Assistant Professor in Research Methods. I taught on every methods course they had and wrote them five more to make sure they wouldn’t run out.

News of my arrival on the European mainland traveled fast, and a sweet offer arrived from MZES at the University of Mannheim to mix text analysis research and data project infrastructure. Since the latter used to be an out of hours activity I was left with free time. In an effort to avoid filling it with exercise, and for the amusement of the locals I decided to figure out how to speak German properly. I didn’t manage it – it was Baden Württemberg after all – but they did seem to be amused.

Cosmo (2012) has famously argued that “in Mannheim you cry twice” but Dr. B. found this to be closer to a monthly estimate, so when a job came up in Princeton’s Politics Department, I took it and for about five years we lived the suburban dream with a four bicycle garage, a shady garden with apple trees, and the New Jersey Strategic Ant Supply.

But as any nearby German will also confirm, “all things have an end; only a sausage has two.” So, just as almost all the Politics faculty realized I worked there, we got two great offers from the Hertie School in Berlin.

So now Dr B. and I are back, in the middle of the center of the EU. Yes, of course “we’ll always have Paris” (that’s an ancient European Union curse, by the way) but Berlin certainly feels like the middle of things at the moment and we’re happy to be part of the reason it’s not quite as alarmingly hip as it used to be.