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Ph.D. Student Lands Tenure-Track Position

* Fourth-year Signorio gets offer from U. Rochester; will finish dissertation

By Rebecca A. Butcher, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

At a time when most of his colleagues are sweating through dissertations and job-hunting, Curtis S. Signorino, a fourth-year graduate student at the John F. Kennedy School of Government has little to be concerned about.

A year before completing his dissertation, Signorino has secured a tenure-track position in the political science department at the University of Rochester.

According to Harold W. Stanley, chair of the political science department at Rochester, it is not unusual for the department to hire graduate students who have not completed their dissertation.

It is unusual, however, for the department to give someone a full year to complete a dissertation without the responsibility of teaching at the university, he said.

Signorino's chief advisor at Harvard, Professor of Government Gary King attributes Signorino's success to his ability as a researcher.

"In academia, three things are important: research, research and research, and [Mr. Signorino] focused on all three," King said.

Signorino's dramatic rise to the top began about five years ago, when Signorino-then working toward a masters degree in history at the Extension School-initiated a meeting with King.

Signorino had been having trouble with a program written by King, and asked the professor about statistical models within the program in order to debug it. When Signorino succeeded in debugging the program, King was so impressed that he hired Signorino to write the next version of the program.

In 1993, Signorino left the Extension School and was accepted into the Government department at the Graduate School of Arts and Science.

As a graduate student, Signorino co- authored two articles with King in Political Analysis and published one on his own in the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

According to Government Department Chair Kenneth A. Shepsle, Signorino distinguished himself by "learning very early to take chances."

Most students enter graduate school very proficient in absorbing knowledge, but Shepsle said Signorino was unique among graduate students in his ability to contribute knowledge.

"He was proactive about research," Shepsle said.

During his time at Harvard, Signorino made significant contributions to statistical models of international conflict.

Signorino's research focused on incorporating what political scientists call "strategic interaction" into statistical models.

Countries engage in strategic interaction when they make decisions-including whether to go to war-based on how they anticipate other countries will act.

For years, theorists have used strategic interaction to aid their understanding of how countries act toward each other.

But empiricists did not include the idea, because they had no way of statistically modelling it. Signorino changed that.

Signorino was first recognized by the wider academic community in the summer of 1996 when he presented a poster at a conference on political methodology.

Renee M. Smith, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Rochester, said that she noticed Signorino's poster because it included two projects: one was on game theory and the other was a statistical analysis.

After his presentation, the political science department at Rochester invited Signorino to give a job talk.

Stanley said that the talk Signorino gave to the department was "one of the best that any of us had seen in the last 10 to 15 years."

According to Smith, Signorino fielded questions in a very confident and mature way, and did not "fall into the trap of using statistical jargon."

Signorino was courted by several other universities, including the University of Michigan and Yale.

Signorino said he chose Rochester in part because he thought "it would provide a better environment for me professionally as a member of junior faculty.

According to Government Department Chair Kenneth A. Shepsle, Signorino distinguished himself by "learning very early to take chances."

Most students enter graduate school very proficient in absorbing knowledge, but Shepsle said Signorino was unique among graduate students in his ability to contribute knowledge.

"He was proactive about research," Shepsle said.

During his time at Harvard, Signorino made significant contributions to statistical models of international conflict.

Signorino's research focused on incorporating what political scientists call "strategic interaction" into statistical models.

Countries engage in strategic interaction when they make decisions-including whether to go to war-based on how they anticipate other countries will act.

For years, theorists have used strategic interaction to aid their understanding of how countries act toward each other.

But empiricists did not include the idea, because they had no way of statistically modelling it. Signorino changed that.

Signorino was first recognized by the wider academic community in the summer of 1996 when he presented a poster at a conference on political methodology.

Renee M. Smith, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Rochester, said that she noticed Signorino's poster because it included two projects: one was on game theory and the other was a statistical analysis.

After his presentation, the political science department at Rochester invited Signorino to give a job talk.

Stanley said that the talk Signorino gave to the department was "one of the best that any of us had seen in the last 10 to 15 years."

According to Smith, Signorino fielded questions in a very confident and mature way, and did not "fall into the trap of using statistical jargon."

Signorino was courted by several other universities, including the University of Michigan and Yale.

Signorino said he chose Rochester in part because he thought "it would provide a better environment for me professionally as a member of junior faculty.

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