Three Doctoral Students, Three Perspectives on Government Regulation, One Bass Connections Team

May 24, 2018

Three Duke doctoral students from History, Public Policy and Law are graduating from Duke after successfully defending their dissertations.

Daniel, Mercy, Anna, EdMercy DeMenno, Anna Johns Hrom and Daniel Ribeiro all pursued research topics related to their 2015-16 Bass Connections project team, Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review (fondly known as RRRR, the pirate team).

Led by Edward Balleisen, Lori Bennear, Elizabeth Brake and Jonathan Wiener, the team explored the efforts of government agencies throughout the world to evaluate the actual impacts of their regulatory policies. Through a series of case studies, team members examined current practices in the United States and Europe and made recommendations about how to improve quality of retrospective reviews.

“The doctoral students on the RRRR team played crucial roles as mentors to a great group of undergraduates,” observed Balleisen. “And for each, the experience helped to shape the questions that guided their dissertation research.”

Mercy DeMenno, MA ’16 and PhD ’18 in Public Policy

Mercy DeMenno“Graduating is bittersweet because the Duke experience has been so rewarding, and my engagement with Bass Connections has been an integral part of that experience,” said Mercy DeMenno.

“Participating in the planning and execution of the “RRRR” Bass Connections project provided an invaluable opportunity to leverage my dissertation research in support of a collaborative and interdisciplinary research project grounded in a real-world policy problem,” she said. An article drawing on the RRRR Bass Connections project and her dissertation research was published last year the journal Regulation & Governance.

“Engaging with our fantastic team of interdisciplinary researchers and policymaker partners throughout the project enhanced the quality of my academic work, enabled translation of individual and collaborative findings into actionable policy recommendations and provided innumerable professional development opportunities.”

DeMenno was a Graduate Scholar with the Rethinking Regulation Program at Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics and also served as co-chair of the Bass Connections Student Advisory Council. Her dissertation is titled “The Politics of the Regulatory Policymaking Process: Three Essays on Governments, Markets, and Effective Regulatory Governance.”

Anna Johns Hrom, JD ’16 and PhD ’18 in History

Anna Johns HromWorking toward a law degree while pursuing a doctorate in history, Anna Johns Hrom found the regulatory review team to be an excellent fit. “Bass Connections gave me an opportunity to put the tools gained from both the law and history curricula to use in a problem-oriented setting,” she said.

“The best thing about my Bass Connections project was that, much like in the real world, the ‘problem’ we sought to address had never been answered—it was not an assignment generated to test a skill set, but rather a totally open-ended question. This allowed an opportunity to draw on the research skills from both disciplines and to practice switching between law and history ‘hats,’ so to speak, as the evolving situation required. The experience emphasized the value of each of my degrees independently and together in a dynamic, problem-solving environment.”

Hrom’s dissertation is titled “Between Fraud Heaven and Tort Hell: The Business, Politics, and Law of Lawsuits.” She will serve as a law clerk for the U.S. Courts.

Daniel Ribeiro, LLM ’09 and SJD ’18

Daniel RibeiroDaniel Ribeiro attended Duke Law School while on leave from Brazil’s Ministério Público, where he has worked since 2000 as an attorney overseeing state policy.

“My Bass Connections experience continued to influence my SJD research and dissertation,” said Ribeiro. “It has also inspired my current professional projects and future plans. As a result of having worked with a multidisciplinary team, my writing changed and improved with the goal of reaching wider audiences. Also, my dissertation [“Adaptive Regulatory Impact Assessment: Beyond the Foresight-Hindsight Divide”] had an empirical component, which involved the use of multiple research methods.”

He and Jonathan Wiener published a related article, Environmental Regulation Going Retro: Learning Foresight from Hindsight, in the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law.

Like DeMenno, he was a Graduate Scholar with the Rethinking Regulation Program.

“Back in Brazil, my experience with Bass Connections is also informing how I am building and leading teams of researchers and policy analysts at the Ministério Público,” he noted. “I can’t have enough of the amazing opportunity of doing cutting-edge applied research! I am discussing participation in a future Bass Connections project, now as a member of my institution in Brazil and as a postdoctoral researcher from there.”

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Photo at top: Daniel Ribeiro, Mercy DeMenno and Anna Johns Hrom celebrate with Edward Balleisen.