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Political Science

Meet the Faculty: Elizabeth Lane

Students make their way to class early in the 2022 fall semester across the Court of North Carolina, with the 1911 Building as a backdrop. Photo by Becky Kirkland.

Dr. Elizabeth Lane recently joined the faculty of the Department of Political Science, School of Public and International Affairs. Her research and expertise focuses on the Supreme Court, primarily, and more specifically, the intersection of race, gender, and public opinion. She also studies judicial behavior. Outside of the University setting, Dr. Lane enjoys traveling, lots of outdoor activities, and is looking forward to exploring the Triangle.

How long have you been at NC State and which courses do you usually teach?

Fall 2023 is my first semester and I will teach PS 307 Introduction to Criminal Law in the United States and PS 308 Supreme Court and Public Policy.

Please tell us about one of your current research projects.

One of my projects that I’m really proud of (that’s currently under review) is about whether the identity of litigants at the Supreme Court impacts public opinion; furthermore, asking if it impacts the way people accept (or reject) cases and view the Supreme Court. Two examples of the types of cases I looked at for this project were the recent Students for Fair Admissions vs. Harvard that Edward Bloom brought, and D.C. v. Heller. In both of these, the defendants were strategically chosen.

Why does the study of political science matter?

We’re like any science–it’s in our name–so because we’re a science that means we can look at whatever our particular interest is (for us, its politics) and can examine it in a systematic way to understand patterns that emerge in the political world, along with what variables lead to different outcomes. I think in order to understand the world that we’re living in, we can’t take small anecdotes. 

What led you to a career as a political science professor? 

Initially I was pre-law, wanting to go to law school like almost every other poli sci student. I took a judicial processes class and got hooked. I went to office hours (I never went to office hours before) and the professor, after seeing how interested I was in the research, encouraged me to go into higher education. I worked in a Michigan State Senate office for a few years and when my boss, the Senator, decided to run for Congress, I took it as an opportunity to apply to graduate school.  

What is one thing your students would be surprised to know about you?

This might sound lame now because it seems that everyone is- but I’m an OG Swiftie. We’re about the same age (she’s three months older), so I feel like I resonated with her music growing up because we were at the same stages in life. A unique thing about my Swiftie fandom is that I’m also a huge John Mayor fan- so I had a hard time balancing the two. 

If you could time travel, what advice would you give to your college-age self?

I would tell my college-age self to say “yes” to more things, have more fun, and put myself out there more. Especially because I was a first-generation college student, entering college and figuring everything out was a bit difficult and I spent a lot of time studying and working.

Dr. Elizabeth Lane stands on a beach with a large sea turtle behind her.

What is the next thing you hope to accomplish on your wishlist?

I’d like to go to England and Scotland as my next travel destination and see a Premier League game.

What are you looking forward to at NC State?

I’m excited to meet and interact with new students. I used to be involved in academic student organizations and liked being able to help them with their research and pursue their ambitions. It’s been really rewarding watching the students do well and accomplish their goals. 

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching? 

I love to watch Michigan State football and basketball, and I’m also a New England Patriots fan. I like to use the rowing machine, try to golf, and read/listen to audiobooks- usually when I’m walking outside. 

Where did you move from prior to relocating to Raleigh and NC State?

I’m originally from Michigan and I taught at LSU for four years before coming here.

Favorite caffeine fix?

Esteamed Coffee in Cary. They employ people with disabilities and I love that message and purpose that they are spreading, plus their coffee is really good!