5 Questions at the Weidenbaum Center

An informal series getting to know faculty, staff, and students of the Weidenbaum Center

KEISHA BLANCHARD

Keisha Blanchard is the Human Resource and Payroll Supervisor for the Human Resource cluster in Arts and Sciences. She handles human resources and payroll duties for the Weidenbaum Center. 

Where were you born? Where are you from? Born and raised in St. Louis, MO.

What has been one of your favorite events at the Center? I was invited to a staff lunch at the Whittemore House. Beautiful space, delicious food, and the servers were so friendly and professional. 

What’s the most interesting place you've ever traveled, and what made it memorable? San Juan Puerto Rico. I went last February, around my birthday, and the weather was 80 degrees there. It felt amazing to wear shorts in the winter. 

What's the best book you've read recently? Disruptive Thinking by Bishop T.D. Jakes 

What's a trend or story that doesn't get enough attention? The St. Louis City Reparations Commission. 

 

MICHAEL OLSON

Michael Olson, is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and a Weidenbaum Center Resident Fellow. His research and teaching focus on ow electoral and legislative institutions affect legislative representation in the United States. His work draws on a wide variety of data from across American history and different levels of government. 

Where were you born? Where are you from? I was born in Geneva, IL (outside Chicago), but grew up in Port Washington, WI (outside Milwaukee). 

What is your area of research? How has the Weidenbaum Center supported your research? I study American legislative and electoral politics, with a particular focus on historical data and settings. Weidenbaum Center funding has allowed me to hire research assistants to help with the labor and time- intensive work associated with my research, and additionally providing funding for a research project surveying local government officials. 

What’s a talent or hobby you have that not many people know about? While I don't get to do it as often as I'd like, I really enjoy fishing, especially fly-fishing. 

What's the best book you've read recently? The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. It's about a Catholic priest being hunted during revolutionary times in southern Mexico. Completely tranported me to a time/place that I wasn't at all familiar with. 

What's a trend or story that doesn't get enough attention? Protected Bike Lanes. In terms of quality of life and climate improvement in urban areas, its hard for me to think of anything more impactful than replacing cars with bikes, and protected bike lanes (just with like a concrete curb between cars and bikes), are a cheap and easy way to make biking safe and desirable. 

 

 

LUCAS BOSCHELLI

Lucas Boschelli is a Ph.D. candidate with a focus on urban politics and political methodology. He recently accepted a position as a Senior Data Scientist at Maritz in St. Louis. He'll be joining their business solutions and data science division once he finishes his research at WashU. 

Where were you born? Where are you from? I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico 

What are your studying? How did you become interested in the field of study you're involved in? I'm currently studying American Local Politics. Within the umbrella of local politics, I study participation and direct democracy within the country's smallest governments (cities, school districts, etc.). I'm fascinated in what drives people to reach out to their local governments and how local policies and practices can alleviate (or at time exacerbate) historic socio-economic inequities. I actually stumbled into my field. I entered my PhD wanting to study elections, but I could never quite get into the field. After failing to find a good topic for a seminar paper, I stumbled into a series of early local politics papers and quickly became engrossed in the topic. 

What’s the best book you've read recently? When part of your job involves combing through countless articles, reading can become a tricky thing to learn to enjoy again. Luckily, I've fallen into the world of audio books and absolutely love it. I'm a huge sci-fi and fantasy geek and just finished second to last book in the Expanse series (Tiamat's Wrath I think?). 

What's your favorite app on your phone? I would say my Audible app. While I'm not attached to the app in particular, I use it every day to listen to books and stories. Without out it, my days would be a significantly less interesting.

What is your favorite STL placeI absolutely love the botanical gardens. 

 

ARIELA SCHACHTER

Ariela Schachter, is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Associate Director of the Weidenbaum Center, Executive Committee member of the Weidenbaum Center, and Faculty Affiliate in Asian American Studies. Her research focuses on immigration, race relations, and inequality in the United States. Her current research efforts focus on projects on public attitudes towards immigrants; racial/ethnic relations; and neighborhood selection and residential inequality. She primarily uses experiment and causal inference methods. Professor Schachter additionally uses big data and computation text analysis in her work. 

Where were you born? Where are you from? Born in San Diego, CA and grew up in Southern California and later New Jersey. 

What’s a talent or hobby you have that not many people know about? I loved to bake. 

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? I loved the new Abraham Verghese book (The Covenant of Water)

What's a trend or story that doens't get enough attention? I might be biased because of my research, but I don't think we are paying nearly enough attention to the lack of due process for migrants seeking asylum at the southern border. 

What's your favorite app on your phone? I use my NYTimes app every day to wordle..and read the news 

 

ALANA BAME 

Alana Bame, Alana is the administrative coordinator for the Weidenbaum Center. She works on Center public outreach event planning and related logistics, Center website maintenance, media relations, and associated Weidenbaum Center informational materials. She additionally works with the Associate Director of Research and Administration to support donor relations, donor engagement activities, Eliot Society Weidenbaum Center committees, and related donor requests. She handles many of the day-to-day administrative tasks for the Center including but not limited to assistance with conference room scheduling, onboarding of new Weidenbaum Center staff, faculty, and others, and general office maintenance issues.  

Where were you born? Where are you from? Born in Red Bank, NJ. Grew up in Northern Virginia and lived many years in the District of Columbia. 

What has been one of your favorite events at the Center? I really liked the Women's Networking Luncheon and Public Policy event featuring Betsy Sinclair and Monica Eppinger. 

What’s the most interesting place you've ever traveled to, and what made it memorable? Reykjavik, Iceland. Was a memorable experience as I was there when it is light 24 hours a day. Definitely nice to have more hours in the day to see the truly beautiful natural landscapes and scenery, and appreciate the hot springs/baths. 

What is a topic that you could give a presentation on with no notes? Dealing with a loved one with dementia. 

What's your favorite band/musician? What's your karoke song? I don't really have a favorite bank but like Bill Withers, America, and Wings. Karoke is not my thing. 

 

 

 

 

STEVEN FAZZARI

Steven Fazzari, Bert A. and Jeanette L. Lynch Distinguished Professor of Economics and Professor of Sociology. Steve is the former Weidenbaum Center Director and a current Resident Fellow at the Center. Fazzari is an economist and has been a faculty member at Washington University for over 35 years. Following decades of work in the Department of Economics and as then Associate Director of the Weidenbaum Center, Fazzari devoted an incredibly rewarding five years as inaugural chair of the revived Department of Sociology. He recruited 10 faculty members and worked with his new colleagues to create undergraduate and graduate programs. Fazzari continues to be an active part of Sociology and is committed to interdisciplinary teaching, research, and student mentorship that connects sociology with economics.

Where were you born? Where are you from? Grew up (mostly) in Racine, Wisconsin

What is your area of research? How has the Weidenbaum Center supported your research? Macroeconomics. The Center has provided useful fund for many research projects over the years including work that connects rising inequality with economic growth.

What’s a talent or hobby you have that not many people know about? I loved backpacking for many years, although both time and aging have kept out of the mountains in recent years. I played the accordion when I was young and now I am studying piano.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? My reading these days is all for research. Too bad. I would like to get back to novels.

What is a topic that you could give a presentation on with no notes? Most any topic in macroeconomics (sources of economic growth, causes and consequences of recessions, fiscal and monetary policy)