By Juan Corredor-Garcia, PhD student in political science at the Graduate Center, City University of New York

Academic conferences are privileged spaces for graduate students for various reasons. Whether it is submitting a work-in-progress, a dissertation chapter, or an article to submit to a journal for the simple purpose of connecting with other scholars and grad students who share similar interests or learning about original themes in political science, each year, hundreds of new attendees from the United States and around the world travel to Chicago to live the experience of the annual MPSA conference for the first time.

Paul Odér, a criminal justice doctoral student at John Jay College – CUNY Graduate Center, shares his experience as a first-time attendee. More importantly, Paul’s positive insights may conduct him to present his work at the MPSA 2024 conference.

Juan Corredor-Garcia: Hi Paul. Thanks for joining us for the MPSA Blog.
Paul Odér: Hi Juan. Thanks for inviting me.

JCG: How was your experience as an MPSA first-time attendee?
PO: I had a good time. It was surprisingly easy to present my research and listen to other research as a political science outsider. The feedback I received on my work was also very useful in touching on points that criminal justice folks would not.

JCG: How do you compare your experience at MPSA 2023 to other conferences in the United States?
PO: MPSA was a good experience. MPSA was similar to the conferences in criminal justice in being very quantitative, and not having much focus on theories. However, the diversity in paper topics was so different (in a good way). There were still many interesting theory panels and even movies and tv show analyses, which I’ve never seen at a criminal justice conference.

JCG: You are doing a Ph.D. in criminal justice on the eastern side of the United States. Why did you decide to apply for a conference in a different zone and discipline than yours?
PO: My dissertation advisor is a political scientist and she recommended I check out the major political science conferences since my work is interdisciplinary. I found MPSA a great opportunity to do so.

JCG: What was your paper about? Please share with us your preliminary findings.
PO: I presented my dissertation research. My research explores gentrification’s relationship with lead poisoning and youth violence in New York City. I use mixed methods to map gentrification’s city-wide distribution, assess its relationship with lead poisoning and youth violence, and explore how residents of gentrifying areas experience these three phenomena. I am still working on my dissertation so I don’t have findings yet.

JCG: Do you plan on attending next year?
PO: I will likely only go to MPSA next year. I still want to go to at least one political science conference but I want to similarly branch out to public health and anthropology conferences next year.

JCG: What type of recommendations do you have for first-time attendees for MPSA 2024?
PO: My main recommendation is basically to try to go to as many different panels as possible. There’s plenty of different topics that can be relevant for your own work, or just interesting to listen to.


Paul Odér is a fifth-year criminal justice doctoral candidate at CUNY John Jay College/The Graduate Center. His research interests include lead poisoning, state crime, human-wildlife conflict, and police violence. His mixed-methods dissertation research explores gentrification’s relationship with lead poisoning and youth violence in NYC. 


About the Author

Juan Corredor-Garcia is a PhD student in political science at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is currently a Fulbright/Minciencias scholar. He studies the intersection between rebel and criminal governance in Latin America from a civilian resistance perspective, as well as the politics of green militarization in South America.

Find him on twitter at @thuandavid10