I am Dr. Taneisha N. Means, a professor at Vassar College in the Department of Political Science as well as in the multidisciplinary Africana Studies program. Additionally, I am the principal investigator on a research grant from the NSF’s Law and Social Sciences program. In 2019-2020, I will be a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Host Mentor/Department: Dr. Isaac Unah/Department of Political Science).
As a political scientist, my research and teaching interests include race and ethnic politics, judicial politics, political representation, and political behavior and identities. I am particularly interested in the political representation of marginalized groups in politics, especially U.S. courts.
My primary research focus right now is my book project, Representation and Justice in State Courts. In the book, I combine both qualitative and quantitative data to explore and illuminate the political identities and behaviors of 21st-century black state court judges. I have published research in several edited volumes, and in the following scholarly journals: Politics & Gender, Politics, Groups, and Identities, and PS: Political Science & Politics.
Prior to joining the Vassar faculty, I spent two years at the University of Virginia in the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies. I earned a B.A. degree from John Carroll University in Political Science and Africana Studies with a minor in Philosophy and a concentration in Sex and Gender Studies. In 2012, I earned an M.A. degree from Duke University in Political Science, and in 2016, I earned a Ph.D. degree from Duke University in Political Science.
In Spring 2019 I was interviewed by Cecilia Hoang about my research and about some of the things that I am doing at Vassar. The interview was published in the Engaged Pluralism Newsletter (March 2019), available here.
I am a first-generation college graduate from a Black working-class family and I call Canton, Ohio home.