Professor Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz

Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz joined the Political Science Department in the fall of 2009. She received her Ph.D. in May of 2009 from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on political participation, racial minorities, public policy, inequality, and political geography. Professor Pearson-Merkowitz’s research has appeared in some of the top political science journals including the Journal of Politics and the American Journal of Political Science.
Voice mail: (401) 874-4057
Fax: (401) 874-4072



Professor Diane Kern

Professor Diane Kern earned her Masters and PhD in Education at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. She first became an adjunct Professor in 1994, received a full Professor position in 2005, and tenure in 2011. Prior to her time at URI Professor Kern had been a public classroom teacher in Rhode Island and Florida since 1985. She is a founding member of South Kingstown CARES and her research is often featured in prominent research journals such as the New England Reading Association Journal.
Voicemail: (401) 874-9490
Fax: (401) 874-5471



Founding Director, Retired
Professor Alfred Killilea

Professor Killilea retired from teaching in 2012. A native of Andover, Massachusetts and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (1963), Professor Killilea arrived at URI in 1969. Professor Killilea’s main research interests are in the field of political theory. He is particularly interested in exploring the relation between people’s ideas about politics and mortality. His book, The Politics of Being Mortal, examines the impact of a potential change in the denial of death in American culture. He has co-edited a book entitled Ethical Dilemmas in Public Administration.

Please email Professor Killilea if you wish to contact him.

Students with the MTI Experience:



Former Student Director

Nathan A. Daigneault

Nathan is a Senior Political Science student who worked at The Compass School in South Kingstown as a mentor in 2014-2015. The experiences he gained through the MTI program lead him to become the latest Former Student Director. In the past, Nate obtained his Law Enforcement Associates Degree at the Community College of Rhode Island and transferred to URI to pursue Political Science. He worked on Rhode Island Lt. Governor Dan Mckee’s campaign during the last election as a financial intern, and more recently assisted with research for Professor Pearson-Merkowitz.  Nathan’s main interest in Political Science is Political Theory and hopes to obtain a teaching job at a State University.

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Teaching Assistant/Former MTI Student 

Melody Francisco

Melody Francisco is a Political Science, Gender and Women Studies major with a double minor in Spanish and Leadership Studies. She is a Senior and will be graduating in May 2016. At first she saw the program as a mere opportunity to complete her internship requirement for her minor. However, she had no idea that she would gain so much passion for the MTI program and efforts it is putting into school departments around the state. Although she enjoyed participating in the lectures, it was the actual hands-on work in the school classrooms that truly changed her when she volunteered at Peace Dale Elementary School in Wakefield.

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