Meet the scholars

Meet the scholars

The people behind the Democracy and Capitalism Project

Melody Barnes

Melody Barnes headshot

Melody Barnes is executive director of the UVA Karsh Institute of Democracy and co-director for policy and public affairs for the Democracy Initiative, an interdisciplinary teaching, research, and engagement effort led by the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia. She is the J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance at the Miller Center and is also a distinguished fellow at the UVA School of Law. A co-founder of the domestic strategy firm MB2 Solutions LLC, Barnes has spent more than 25 years crafting public policy on a wide range of domestic issues. 

During the administration of President Barack Obama, Barnes was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She was also executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her experience includes an appointment as director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and assistant counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City. 

Barnes earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors in history, and her JD from the University of Michigan. She serves on the boards of directors of several corporate, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations.

Robert Bruner

Bob Bruner headshot

Robert Bruner, faculty senior fellow, is University Professor at the University of Virginia, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Dean Emeritus of the Darden School of Business. He has also held visiting appointments at Harvard University and Columbia University, INSEAD in France, and IESE in Spain. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books on finance, management, and teaching. A faculty member since 1982, he has won leading teaching awards at the University of Virginia and within the Commonwealth of Virginia. His current fields of research and teaching include financial crises, the relationship between democracy and capitalism, and the leadership attributes of U.S. presidents.

As a financial economist, Bruner is best known for his research on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and financial panics. His books Deals from Hell and Applied Mergers and Acquisitions have helped numerous practitioners and students toward successful transactions. His book published in 2008, The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned From the Market's Perfect Storm, with Sean D. Carr, attracted wide attention for its discussion of the underpinnings of financial crises. In 2011, Bruner led a global task force of deans for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business that produced a comprehensive review of global management education. The resulting book-length report, The Globalization of Management Education, urged educational leaders to rise to the challenges of globalization. He is the author and co-author of more than 300 teaching case studies and of Case Studies in Finance, now in its eighth edition. He comments on life, business, and current events in his blog

Sidney Milkis

Sid Milkis headshot

Sidney M. Milkis is the White Burkett Miller Professor of Governance and Foreign Affairs and a professor of politics. His research focuses on the American presidency, political parties and elections, social movements, and American political development. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students, he regularly gives public lectures on American politics and participates in programs for international scholars and high school teachers that probe the deep historical roots of contemporary developments in the United States. 

Milkis earned a BA degree from Muhlenberg College and a PhD in political science from the University of Pennsylvania.


Scott Miller

Scott Miller headshot

Scott Miller is lecturer and research associate at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a research fellow at the Miller Center. Holding MAs from George Mason University (2013) and the University of Virginia (2015), Miller received his PhD in American economic and business history from UVA in 2018. Before returning to UVA in May 2021, Miller was a postdoctoral fellow in economic and business history at the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance.

Miller has received over a dozen fellowships and grants, including awards from the Economic History Association, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, Harvard Business School, the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, and the Bankard Fund for Political Economy. He studies historical economic development and is finishing his manuscript “Developing Economy, Emerging Republic: Crisis, Opportunity, and the Struggle for American Economic Power, 1765–1812” for the University of Chicago Press.


Margaret Foster Riley

Margaret Foster Riley headshot

Margaret Foster Riley, Dorothy Danforth Compton Professor at the Miller Center, is professor of law at UVA Law School, professor of public health sciences at the UVA School of Medicine, and professor of public policy at the University’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She also directs the Animal Law Program at the law school.

A scholar working in the intersection of law, regulation, policy, and ethics in the Life Sciences, Riley has written and presented extensively about health care law, biomedical research, genetics, food and drug regulation, reproductive technologies, human and animal biotechnology, and public health. She is currently a member of the NIH NExTRAC, a FACA committee that advises the NIH Director on issues concerning emerging biotechnologies. She served on four National Academies committees: the Committees on Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects, Assessing Toxicological Risks to Human Subjects, Assessment of the Care and Use of Dogs in Biomedical Research Funded by or Conducted at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Pain Management and Regulatory Strategies to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse (consultant to the committee).

Riley has advised numerous state and federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration; the Environment Protection Agency; the Department of Defense; committees of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine; the Virginia Department of Health; and the Virginia Bar.

Prior to her academic career, Riley was an associate at Rogers & Wells, a law firm in New York, and at Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, a law firm in Philadelphia. From 2017-2019, she served as the faculty member of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors.

Riley earned her law degree from Columbia University and her BA from Duke University.