Dr. Nisha Mukherjee Bellinger, 33
Assistant Professor, Political Science
April 29, 2016
By Blair Koch, University Relations and Communications
Three years ago, Billings, Montana was merely an idea to Dr. Nisha Bellinger: a city surrounded by beautiful western landscapes and a big blue sky, or so said her husband.
“I’d never been to Montana before but my husband had, many times, and always wanted to move there,” she said. “I like how Billings is set up, the way the mountains are in the distance but with the canyon right here.”
Today, Bellinger is a Montana State University Billings assistant professor of political science, but back then then she and her husband, Paul Bellinger, were both teaching political science at the Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.
The move to Montana has proven fruitful, allowing her to pursue a tenure-track teaching career and him, photography.
“I appreciate the fact that at MSUB I can teach the courses the way I want to teach and I get to teach the courses that I want,” she said.
In addition to teaching an array of classes like Introduction to International Relations, Democratization, and Research Methods, Bellinger stays busy researching.
Her paper, “From Whether to Why: Democracy and Infant Mortality in India,” was recently accepted for publication in the European Political Science Review Journal.
Her primary scholarly focus is on the relationship between politics and health outcomes but she is also currently studying the number of political parties in developing countries to see if that has an impact on foreign direct investment.
“The university has been very supportive for my getting grants for my research and my going to conferences,” Bellinger said.
Bellinger grew up in the small town of Hazaribagh, within the state of Jharkhand, India. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Xavier’s College at the University of Mumbai and a master’s degree in international relations at Judavpur University in Kolkata, but she desired to earn her doctorate in the United States.
“I came to America in 2007 for my Ph.D” Bellinger said. “I didn’t really care where in the country I ended up studying I just wanted to go somewhere I could research what I wanted and where I could go on scholarship.”
That school ended up being the University of Missouri, where she graduated in 2012.
Although most of her family remains in India (she has a brother studying at the University of Southern California) Bellinger now calls America home. In February, she was one of 17 people who became citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the James F. Battin Federal Courthouse in Billings.
“I teach political science and I’m here, but I can’t vote. In India, you have to register over a year in advance and as a student I was always moving around,” she said. “I’m always talking about how important it is to participate and I really want to be a part of the political process.”
She hopes to inspire younger students to get more involved in politics, too. Bellinger has spearheaded efforts to have MSUB host a United Nations Model Summit on May 9.
Six schools will bring roughly 90 students to the university for the event