Four new tenure-track faculty members have joined the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) at The University of Texas at Dallas this year to accommodate growing interest in fields such as criminology, economics, public affairs and political science.

Enrollment has risen at the school — especially among transfer students and graduate students — thanks to growth strategies that include hiring faculty with expertise in popular fields, initiating remote speakers series and seminars, and better engaging alumni.

Dr. Jennifer Holmes

“Our disciplines are in great demand. When you think of the challenges that we have faced in 2020, policy solutions are what you need,” said Dr. Jennifer Holmes, dean of the school and a professor of political science, public policy and political economy.

The newly hired faculty are expected to have an influence that extends beyond the campus community, Holmes said.

“These are individuals who are not only top scholars, but they also can engage meaningfully to solve salient policy challenges in the region,” she said.

Dr. Michelle Harris, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, has an interest in mental health and crime, and has done research with private attorneys in Georgia. Holmes said that combination will also have special interest for students in public policy and sociology, and possibly for colleagues in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Dr. Darwin (Trey) Miller, associate professor of economics, will be taking on a significant role with the Texas Schools Project, which supports academic research to improve academic achievement and success in postsecondary education. He will build on his decade of experience in education policy research and his established relationships with Texas policymakers and practitioners.

Dr. Maria (Camila) Morales, assistant professor of economics, is a Colombian American scholar with expertise in education policy and a particular interest in immigration and development. She will also teach international political economy students.

Dr. Elizabeth Searing, assistant professor of public and nonprofit management, not only brings a scholarly background but also will build on extensive expertise and practitioner experience in nonprofits, which Holmes said is of interest across the entire school.

“All of our hires have spillover appeal. They not only bring value to their colleagues and programs but also to the school as a whole,” Holmes said.

EPPS encompasses eight programs: criminology and criminal justice, cyber and big data analytics, economics, geospatial information sciences, political science, public and nonprofit management, public policy and political economy, and sociology.


New Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

Dr. Michelle Harris

Dr. Michelle Harris, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice

Education: PhD and MS in criminal justice and criminology, Georgia State University; BAs in psychology and criminal justice, University of Arkansas

Previous position: graduate research and teaching assistant, Georgia State University

Research interests: mental health, criminological processes, victimization

“I study mental health as it relates to criminological processes and victimization more generally. I am particularly excited about joining UTD’s School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences because of the policy-focused orientation of the faculty and scholarship. I am impressed and eager to work with others at UTD to improve services for victims as well as work on informing victim-related policy and prevention at the state and local levels.”


Dr. Darwin (Trey) Miller

Dr. Darwin (Trey) Miller, associate professor of economics

Education: PhD in economics, Stanford University; BA in mathematics and economics, UT Austin

Previous position: principal researcher, American Institutes for Research

Research interests: postsecondary education policy

“As a native Texan, I am incredibly excited and honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the postsecondary success of students in my home state. While at UTD, I will do this directly, through teaching courses in the economics program, and indirectly, by capitalizing on the state’s unparalleled education and employment data resources housed at UTD’s Texas Schools Project. My research aim is to inform statewide and national debates around postsecondary policy and practice.”


Dr. Maria (Camila) Morales

Dr. Maria (Camila) Morales, assistant professor of economics 

Education: PhD and BS in economics, Georgia State University

Previous position: lead graduate research assistant, Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education

Research interests: education economics, labor economics, economics of immigration

“While at UT Dallas, I will work on applied labor economics research, focusing on the education and labor outcomes of minority populations. I study policy-relevant questions that affect immigrant and refugee students, such as access to bilingual education and school-based language support programs. I believe my work is enriched by interdisciplinary perspectives, and I am thrilled to join a university with a strong team of researchers doing theoretical and empirical work across the variety of social sciences.”


Dr. Elizabeth Searing

Dr. Elizabeth Searing, assistant professor of public and nonprofit management

Education: PhD in public policy, Georgia State University; MA in economics, Georgia State University; BA in economics, Texas A&M University

Previous position: assistant professor of public administration and policy, University at Albany-SUNY

Research interests: nonprofit finance and financial management, nonprofit management, social enterprise

“I was raised in Texas, so it’s great to be back and have the opportunity to get involved in the nonprofit ecosystem here. North Texas has such a vibrant social sector, and I’m looking forward to finding ways that my research and the efforts of the UTD community can be of greater service.”


New Faculty Series

News Center is publishing profiles of tenured and tenure-track professors who have recently joined the University. The following school profiles have been published:

School of Arts and Humanities

School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences