Two new political science hires will help the continuing efforts to close the gap between the Political Science and African American Studies departments.

Ange-Marie Hancock, who is currently teaching at Pennsylvania State University, and Khalilah Brown-Dean, who is finishing her doctorate at Ohio State University, will join the Political Science Department in the fall. Brown-Dean focuses on urban politics and political psychology, race and gender in politics, while Hancock studies the ideologies of race, feminist theories and black political thought.

“[The hires] are different and complementary to each other,” Political Science chairman Ian Shapiro said. “They’re both supposed to be a bridge between political science and African American studies.”

Both new professors said they are excited to teach at Yale and said they look forward to helping students connect their political science education to African American studies.

“It was definitely a void in terms of the Yale curriculum,” Brown-Dean said. “Yale realized that and wanted to make sure they could provide for the students.”

Brown-Dean, who majored in government at the University of Virginia, will receive her doctorate in political science in June from Ohio State University. At Yale, she will teach a course on black politics in the fall and two seminars in the spring. Her undergraduate seminar will focus on voting rights and representation, while her graduate seminar will explore politics of race and ethnicity.

Though her position at Yale will be her first job out of school, she has already taught political science courses at Ohio State.

She said her experience as a busy graduate student will prove helpful when she begins teaching at Yale.

“It was definitely a challenge for me as a grad student to write my dissertation, be on the job market and teach, but that experience will help me as I become a junior professor in realizing that my first obligation is being accessible to students,” Brown-Dean said.

Like Brown-Dean, Hancock said she is looking forward to teaching Yale students.

“I’m very interested in the kind of students that I’ll be able to teach at Yale,” she said. “I’m also excited about the intellectual community the two departments have.”

Hancock said she was attracted to Yale because the Political Science Department will allow her more freedom to explore her various fields of interest. Hancock currently teaches political science and women’s studies at Penn State. At Yale she will teach a fall course on race and ethnicity in American politics. In the spring she will teach an undergraduate seminar on Latino politics and a graduate seminar on political philosophy.

Hancock said her experiences outside the classroom have contributed to her academic interests. Before attending graduate school she worked for five years in public relations for the NBA and wrote the original proposal for the WNBA. She also dances semi-professionally in modern, hip-hop, African, jazz and Brazilian styles.

“[My interests] definitely contribute to my teaching experience because when I was in school it was nice to see the professor’s personality and know they were not just drones,” she said.