2017 Undergraduate Research Highlights

Cameron University

Wendy Whitman-Cobb, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Cameron University, shared information on CHiPS: The Cameron University Undergraduate Research Journal of History and Political Science. This is the second year of publication and this year's volume features research by political science major Luis Jaquez entitled "Minimum Wage Politics: Half Baked or Full Potato?" His paper examines the effect of increases in the minimum wage on unemployment on low skilled individuals. CHiPS not only encourages students to pursue research but is also a reward for those that do. Since its introduction last year, CHiPS has not only encouraged our students but has excited them about the research process. CHiPS mimics as closely as possible the peer review process with papers reviewed not only by faculty but by senior students as well. We receive funding to print the journal as well as distribute it online.

Northeastern University

Nicholas Napolio’s honors thesis, titled "Administrative Action against Sexual Orientation Discrimination: A Study of the EEOC," examines the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's 2015 decision interpreting the Civil Rights Act (1964) as extending antidiscrimination protections to employees on the basis of sexual orientation. He collected and analyzed original data on the work of the EEOC, and conducted elite interviews with EEOC staff.  His findings suggest that the EEOC is a political actor, differentiated from the rest of the federal government, that avoids congressional and executive oversight to further its own institutional aims.  His findings also suggest a significant relationship or dialogue between state civil rights commissions and the EEOC. Nicholas’ thesis was supervised by Professor Michael Tolley.

University of Southern California

Under the supervision of Professor Benjamin A.T. Graham, Professor Jonathan N. Markowitz and Professor Megan Becker, the Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab at the University of Southern California encourages undergraduate scholars to support and conduct interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on issues at the intersection of climate change, security, and economic development. With a focus on serving female, minority, and first generation students, the SPEC lab is building a close-knit community to foster the next generation of social science researcher s. Regular training sessions in research design, data analytics and professionalization topics are conducted in the lab to provide undergraduate students with cutting-edge tools for academic research. This academic year, students have presented their work at the ISA West conference and served as co-authors on several posts on the Monkey Cage. They have supported faculty research on topics ranging from the security implications of global climate change to intervention in civil wars to the impact of diaspora investment in emerging markets. They have collected brand new data on military deployments in the Arctic and South China Sea, human rights enforcement mechanisms at the World Bank, and aided in the creation of the IPE Data Resource, which provides a compilation of all commonly used variables in IPE research in a single dataset. For more details on the lab’s projects and student involvement, please see our website: https://dornsife.usc.edu/spec.

University of Virginia

Dr. Lynn Sandersadvisees are working on:
  • Jury Nullification
    Aryn Frazier is exploring the behavioral roots of jury nullification. Using a survey experiment, she will measure how the race of the defendant affects whether or not respondents refuse to convict a hypothetical individual accused of a crime. She then considers different arguments often made about the need to promote and defend the right of juries to remain independent. She hypothesizes that information about racial disparities in guilty verdicts will increase the respondent’s propensity to let the defendant free. 
  • How Voters Will Evaluate Transgender Candidates
    Abraham Axler is exploring how American voters evaluate trans-gender candidates. Using a survey experiment, he will measure how the gender identification of hypothetical candidates alters how respondents perceive their potential effectiveness in office, their likelihood of winning, and their moral qualifications to serve. He then considers arguments often made by transgender candidates for state and local office, and measures the effectiveness of those various frames. He hypothesizes that candidates who draw attention to their experiences as transgender individuals – from advocacy work to discrimination – are no more or less effective than those who claim their gender identity is irrelevant.
  • Relationships Between Civil Rights and Mental Health
    Harrison grant winners Maria Winchell and Dillon Wild; they have results from survey experiments as well.

The Distinguished Majors Program, led by Dr. Peter Furia, has many students working on research projects. Working titles of these projects are as follows:

  • Individual and Community-Level Predictors of Islamic Radicalization in the United States
    Kara Anderson, advised by Sean Edwards
  • What Predicts Objective and Subjective Citizen Knowledge about the European Union?
    Rachel Boisjolie, advised by Christine Mahoney
  • Press Freedom, Information Costs and the Success of Foreign Counterinsurgency Campaigns
    Brandon Brooks, advised by John Owen
  • The Impact of Federal District Court Vacancies on the Quality of Judicial Decisions
    Maddy Gates, advised by Lynn Sanders 
  • Rural Food Deserts in Virginia: An Ethnographic Study
    Clara Griff, advised by Paul Freedman
  • Gender Bias, Framing and Policy Preferences: An Experimental Study
    April Gutmann, advised by Nick Winter
  • Regime Type and Peace Process-Spoiling by Pro-Government Militias
    Pascal Hensel, advised by Phil Potter 
  • The Genteel Corruption of Harry F. Byrd's Party Organization
    Aaron Jacobs, advised by Ken Stroupe
  • Individual, Institutional and Legal Factors Affecting the Success of US Asylum Claims by Central American Migrants
    Madeleine Keach, advised by Milton Vickermann
  • Why have US presidential campaigns become uncivil?
    Lucas Pulliza, advised by Sid Milkis
  • Predictors of Self-Censorship by Chinese Internet Users
    Yule Wang, advised by Aynne Kokas
  • Attacks on the US Homeland: A Comparative Media Content Analysis of Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and the 2015-2016 ISIS-Inspired Attacks
    Brett Warren, advised by Bruce Williams