Skip to main content

Laurel Harbridge-Yong to Become IPR’s Ninth Associate Director

IPR political scientist brings rigorous scholarship, media savvy, and administrative acumen to the role

Get all our news

Subscribe to newsletter

We are so much richer because of her scholarship and policy engagement, and I look forward to working with her to shape IPR for the better over the next five years.”

Andrew V. Papachristos
IPR director

laurel-harbridge-yong-l.pngPolitical scientist Laurel Harbridge-Yong will step into the role of associate director at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research (IPR) on Sept. 1.

Harbridge-Yong is known for her studies of bipartisanship, polarization, and how elections, institutions, and policy are connected in the United States. She joined Northwestern after receiving her PhD in political science from Stanford in 2009 and became a full professor this September.

“Laurel has been an outstanding IPR fellow and colleague over the years,” said IPR Director Andrew V. Papachristos, the John G. Searle Professor and a sociologist. “We are so much richer because of her scholarship and policy engagement, and I look forward to working with her to shape IPR for the better over the next five years.”

An IPR fellow since 2010, she has been a member of its Executive Committee since 2019, which is the key decision-making body governing the Institute. Currently on leave this academic year, she succeeds James Druckman, former IPR associate director, who moved to the University of Rochester in January.

As associate director of the Institute, Harbridge-Yong will take the lead on organizing IPR’s signature colloquia series and seed grant program, as well as helping to onboard new fellows, in addition to other projects. Her appointment will be for five years.

 “IPR has been one of the most valuable aspects of my career at Northwestern,” Harbridge-Yong said. “I’m honored to contribute to this community as associate director and look forward to building community and mentorship opportunities internally, exploring ways to help undergraduates experiences the breadth of research across the social sciences, and expanding the policy engagement of IPR.”

In 2019, she co-chaired IPR’s successful 50th anniversary celebration with more than 200 attendees.

“Her leadership of that event not only gave her a unique look at the Institute’s past but also an energizing vision of the Institute’s future—especially as we’re looking to plan IPR@60 and beyond,” Papachristos noted.

Across her research, she explores a range of questions surrounding partisan conflict and the difficulty of reaching bipartisan agreement and legislative compromises in American politics. Her body of work spans projects on Congress, state legislatures, and the mass public. Two of her current projects investigate the power of primary voters in American politics and how worrisome trends of threats and violence toward elected officials might alter democracy.

Harbridge-Yong’s research has appeared in the field’s top journals such as the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, and Legislative Studies Quarterly. She has written two books, "Is Bipartisanship Dead? Policy Agreement and Agenda-Setting in the House of Representatives" in 2015, and 2020’s "Rejecting Compromise: Legislators’ Fear of Primary Voters," with Sarah Anderson and Daniel Butler. Cambridge University Press published both.

Harbridge-Yong also deploys her research to tackle important and timely topics, using it as a springboard to better inform the public. For example, she recently discussed what Americans can expect of their legislators in times of political gridlock, such as in the current congressional negotiations over government funding, and shared how primary election participation can shape whose views are represented in government. 

The media regularly call upon her to share her expertise in American politics, legislative compromise and gridlock, violence directed toward elected officials, and eroding democratic norms. She has appeared on Chicago’s WTTW, and has been quoted by the New York Times, Washington Post, and Bloomberg, among others.

Her teaching has covered courses on political institutions, Congress, polarization, legislatures, and methodology, and she was a fellow at Northwestern’s Searle Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning in 2012–13.

A member of the American Political Science Association and the Midwest Political Science Association, she is on the editorial board of Legislative Studies Quarterly and the Journal of Experimental Political Science. She was selected as an Electoral Integrity Project Senior and Manatt Fellow in 2023 and held the W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellowship at the Hoover Institution from 2013–14.

Laurel Harbridge-Yong is professor of political science and an IPR fellow. She will be become IPR’s ninth associate director in September.

Photo credit: Rob Hart

Published: January 24, 2024.