Project Descriptions Spring 2023

Project Number: 1

Faculty: Jim Olds

Rank: University Professor

Title: University Professor of Neuroscience and Public Policy

Project Description: Basically, we are taking Elon seriously: a human colony on Mars is realistic. So the question is how will governance work with Earth 8 light minutes away? Another way of stating the question is how would a polity organize itself optimally lacking much of the history and contingency that drive the trajectories of social organization here on Earth.

Job Description: Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Desired Skills: Web scraping, R-studio, Python

 

Project Number: 2

Faculty: Mariely Lopez-Santana

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Preparedness to Health Emergencies and Partisanship:  A View from the States

Project Description: When capturing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, many scholars and pundits have pointed at the role of partisanship to explain rates of mortality, for instance. While scholars are still attempting to understand responses to the pandemic, we do not have a good sense of the preferences and behavior of parties when it comes to getting prepared and preventing health emergencies. But, do Republicans and Democrats behave differently when it comes to preventing health emergencies.

This project seeks to answer this question by paying attention to the states.  As part of a collaborative project, GMU students will be working with a team of undergrads from the University of Minnesota. Students will be responsible for gathering, organizing and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data.Necessary Skills: Microsoft Office

Job Description: Data collection, Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research

 

Project Number: 3

Faculty: Ketian Zhang

Rank: Assistant Professor

Title: Just do it — explaining characteristics and rationale of China’s economic sanctions

Project Description: This is a working paper seeking to examine China’s sanctions behavior in the post-Cold War era. In particular, this paper connects international security and international political economy by looking at how China uses economic sanctions to advance national security goals and what explains its rationale in imposing sanctions.

Job Description: Data collection, Writing literature summaries, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Desired Skills: Chinese language capability is preferred but NOT required.

 

Project Number: 4

Faculty: Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera

Rank:  Professor

Title: A Dangerous Journey to the United States: Trafficking of Migrants, Human Smuggling and Organized Crime

Project Description: This project will explain the connections between human smuggling, trafficking in persons and organized crime along México's migrant routes and in the context of US-bound migration.

Job Description: Data collection, Managing spreadsheets or databases; writing literature summaries, library research,, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind.

Translation, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: Fluent in Spanish or at least some proficiency in Spanish

Desired Skills: Map making capacities

 

Project Number: 5

Faculty: Faye Taxman

Rank: University Professor

Title: National Evaluation of Stepping Up

Project Description: The study examines how reforms are made at the local level to decarcerate jails and better provide for those with mental illness in the community.

Job Description: Data collection, Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, writing literature summaries, support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, translation, attending webinars.

Necessary Skills: An interest in local behavioral health and criminal legal systems; WORD and EXCEL; library use; if possible, SPSS

 

Project Number: 6

Faculty: Philip Martin

Rank: Assistant Professor

Title: Anti-Colonial Resistance Campaigns and Nation-Building in Africa

Project Description: This research project examines the long-run impacts of mass resistance campaigns against colonial rule in Africa on contemporary nation-building. I am seeking a research assistant to help conduct research on anti-colonial movements in Africa, including the construction of a new dataset that matches anti-colonial campaigns to local ethnic groups. The student will be expected to find and analyze historical documents and secondary scholarship on African liberation movements, and apply a coding protocol to help build the dataset.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, library research

Necessary Skills: Students should be comfortable using the library to search for historical and scholarly sources.

Desired Skills: Interest in and/or experience with African politics or history is desirable, but is not strictly necessary.

 

Project Number: 7

Faculty: Jessica Terman

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Data Coding in Nonprofit Studies

Project Description: We are coding nonprofit studies articles using their abstracts and titles based on fourteen predetermined codes.

Job Description: Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases;

Necessary Skills: EXCEL, Analyzing and critical thinking

 

Project Number: 8

Faculty: Bassam Haddad

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Middle Eastern Studies Institute Knowledge Production Project

Project Description: None given.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Desired Skills: Knowledge of video and audio editing is preferred

 

Project Number: 9

Faculty: Bassam Haddad

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Middle East Studies Institute Pedagogy Initiative Networks Project

Project Description: None given.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Desired Skills: Knowledge of video and audio editing is preferred

 

Project Number: 10

Faculty: Bassam Haddad

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Middle East Studies Institute Broadcasting/Podcasting

Project Description: None given.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Desired Skills: Knowledge of video and audio editing is preferred

 

Project Number: 11

Faculty: Janine Wedel

Rank: University Professor

Title: Mapping Shadow Influence Project

Project Description: This position supports the Mapping Shadow Influence project, which brings together a diverse, multidisciplinary team of scholars (in public policy, anthropology, sociology, politics, computer science and data science) to study how elite influencers wield power and hold sway in a system that has become much more complex and opaque over the past several decades. Using two wholly unique datasets (one of off-shore hedge funds and institutional investors in them; the other of post-retirement careers of U.S. generals and admirals), the project analyzes and visualizes patterns of elite linkage, influence, and governance in the critical arenas of defense and finance. In addition to scholarly interest, the material and potential findings of the project lend themselves to public-interest journalism.

Student TASKS may include:

  • Collecting data, coding (data entry), & managing spreadsheets or databases;
  • Organizing files & data;
  • Conducting library research and writing literature summaries regarding the subjects of the two data bases;
  • Reaching out to Washington-based NGOs that overlap with the project’s interest areas, such as Kleptocracy Watch, FACT Coalition, Global Integrity, and Oxfam America;
  • Attending meetings of such organizations, talking with representatives, and reporting back to the project team;
  • Helping to draft research and policy papers.

Other duties and responsibilities may be assigned by the supervisor

Required Skills:

-Excellent ability to analyze, organize, and code data

-Attention to detail and accuracy

-Excellent ability to conduct library research, Google searches, and to write literature summaries

Start Date: As soon as hired

End Date: End of academic year, with potential to continue.

Hours per week: 10-20 hours per week, negotiable

Days/Times: Flexible, but Friday noon teams meetings (some weeks) are strongly encouraged, for student camaraderie, as well as guidance.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, library research, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind,

Necessary Skills: Must be fully responsible, trustworthy, good at organizing, and skilled at paying attention to detail.

Desired Skills: Experience with coding data and data analytics

 

Project Number: 12

Faculty: Jennifer Victor

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Congressional Caucuses Data Collection

Project Description: I seek to work with 2 - 4 students who will collaboratively contribute to a long-term data collection effort for recording congressional caucus memberships. Student RAs will record individual-level data in a spreadsheet from an existing source. No experience necessary. Students will also be expected to participate in weekly research lab meetings (Fridays at 4pm).

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases;

Necessary Skills: None.

 

Project Number: 13

Faculty: Jennifer Victor

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Book manuscript assistant for *Connecting Congress*

Project Description: I seek 1 - 2 research assistants to provide general support for a book manuscript in progress. The research assistant will help with discovering, reading, and summarizing literature; copy editing; project management; data collection. Students with a genuine interest in studying US Congress and strong organizational and writing skills are encouraged to apply.

Job Description: Writing literature summaries, library research, support in administering experiments, recruiting subjects, or other promotions to the undergraduate population, support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: Organizational skills.

Desired Skills: Writing skills.

 

Project Number: 14

Faculty: Jennifer Victor

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Building a relational database of the US Congress

Project Description I seek 1- 2 skilled research assistants to join an existing team working to create a relational database of legislative activity from existing data. The ideal applicant has experience with, and enthusiasm, for programming in R or SQL. Students who are interested in expanding existing data science skills to applications related to legislative networks are encouraged to apply.

Job Description: Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc.

Necessary Skills: Working familiarity with at least one of the following: R, SQL, mySQL, github

Desired Skills: Experience building a relational database; experience with tidyverse, ggplot, statnet, or igraph R packages.

 

Project Number: 15

Faculty: Robert McGrath

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Addressing Prescription Drug Abuse with State Legislation

Project Description: Opioid drug overdoses in the United States have quadrupled in number since the turn of the 21st century. Public health scholars and state policymakers have attributed part of this epidemic to doctor prescription patterns of new pain-relief drugs and the physical dependencies they create. In response, state legislatures and bureaucracies have increasingly regulated prescribing behavior. In this project, we will catalog recent policy changes and assess sources of variation across the states.

Job Description: Data collection, Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc.

Necessary Skills: attention to detail; interest in the subject matter (legislative politics, public health)

Desired Skills: computer programming skills

 

Project Number: 16

Faculty: Michael Hunzeker

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Mapping the Cross-Strait Military Balance

Project Description: I am trying to build a detailed map of the cross-Strait military balance. To pull this off, I need a small team of RAs who can help me scour open source documents in order to build an accurate map of American, Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese military bases, ports, airfields, radar sites, silos, urban centers, beaches, navigable waterways, MSRs, etc. This map will help support future policy research on cross-Strait security and stability.

Job Description: Data collection, Managing spreadsheets or databaseswriting literature summaries, library research, support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc., translation

Necessary Skills: Potential RAs should be interested in East Asian security and/or military affairs; and they must be responsible, reliable, and able to work independently.

Desired Skills: A military background, familiarity with military terminology, and/or the ability to read simplified and traditional Mandarin characters are all desirable (but certainly not required)

 

Project Number: 17

Faculty: Mark Katz

Rank: Professor

Title: The Middle East and the War in Ukraine

Project Description: I am writing articles on how the war in Ukraine impacts the Middle East. I would like to have an undergraduate research assistant who can find and summarize articles from the Middle Eastern press discussing how the war impacts the region and how Middle Eastern governments should react to it. Students with knowledge of any Middle Eastern language sufficient to read press articles would be especially welcome. There will be plenty to find, though, in English language press sources emanating from the Middle East.

Job Description: Data collection, writing literature summaries, library research, translation

Necessary Skills: Willingness to survey Middle Eastern press sources, identify articles of interest, and briefly summarize them.

Desired Skills: Reading knowledge of newspaper Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, and/or Hebrew.

 

Project Number: 18

Faculty: Mariely Lopez-Santana

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Financial Oversight Board in the U.S. Federal System: Insights from the Puerto Rican Debt Crisis

Project Description: Prof Lopez-Santana is completing a book manuscript on the Puerto Rican debt crisis.  The project is placed in the context of US fiscal federalism, especially on jurisdictions that have adopted Financial Oversight Boards when they have faced a fiscal/financial crisis.  Students can refer to this article published by Dr. Lopez-Santana to get a sense of the topics covered by the book project: https://academic.oup.com/publius/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/publius/pjac037/6726206

Job Description: Data collection, writing literature summaries, library research, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: Solid research skills as the professor will need help with filling gaps in the manuscript (data, historical data, etc.).  I want you to be kind like a detective.

Desire skills: Spanish fluency

 

Project Number: 19

Faculty: David Armor

Rank: Professor Emeritus

Title: Effect of School Resources on Academic Achievement

Project Description: The research project is concerned with a book I am writing that explores the relationship between school resources (teacher characteristics, class sizes, per pupil expenditures of various types, etc.) and academic achievement of students. The book consists of a literature review and presents original research conducted both nationally and statewide using achievement test databases. It is also concerned with legal issues, mainly the adequacy lawsuits brought by certain school districts against the state government, suing to get more state resources allocated to schools.

Job Description: Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: None

Desired Skills: Project is ideal for anyone with a background in Education Policy or an interest to learn more about the subject, especially factors that impact academic achievement.  Knowledge of MS Word & Excel

 

Project Number: 20

Faculty: Eric McGlinchey

Rank: Associate Professor

Title: Community Responses to the Public Health Epidemic of Gun Violence

Project Description: Gun violence is not a uniquely American problem. Our government's failure to pass legislation that can reduce gun violence, though, is unusual.  One month after the 2019 Christchurch mass shooting, the New Zealand parliament voted to ban assault rifles. The United States Congress, in contrast, let an assault weapons ban expire in 2004. In the 18 years since the assault weapons ban expired, Congress has refocused attention on mental health issues while doing little to limit unfettered access to the handguns and automatic weapons that inflict deadly violence on American communities.

In this environment of federal government inaction, this research project investigates variations in local community responses to gun violence. How are local communities responding to the epidemic of gun violence in their schools, places of worship, downtowns, neighborhoods, and sports fields? Why do gun owners and smart gun law advocates come together to pass violence-reducing legislation in some cases and not others? And what can our investigation of smart gun laws at the local level tell us about a potential way forward for smart gun laws at the national level?  

Research project members will have the opportunity to use both quantitative and qualitative methods in our investigation of smart gun laws. We will use national and local databases and the statistical package, R, to create data visualizations of variations in gun violence as well as to map variations in gun laws across the United States. We will meet with community organizers, for example organizers from Uvalde, Highland Park, and the Newtown Action Alliance, to develop a better understanding of how local and national level activists are joining forces to end the United States epidemic of gun violence. And we will use qualitative and quantitative methods to study how gun ownership advocates as well as gun legislation proponents are using social media platforms to advance their sometimes complementary and sometimes antagonistic agendas.      

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, Support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc.

Necessary Skills: Willingness to learn multiple research methods

Desired Skills: No advanced prior knowledge of research methods is required. URAs will work collaboratively with Professor McGlinchey to build proficiency in data visualization using the statistical package, R, as well as to build proficiency in interviewing.

 

Project Number: 21

Faculty: John Gifford

Rank:  Professor

Title: Long Term Operations and Maintenance (Base Funds, 4-5)

Project Description: Analysis of public-private partnerships (P3) and conventional projects in surface transportation infrastructure on long-term operations and maintenance (O&M). Current case studies include State Road 91 (Orange County, California), Dulles Greenway (Loudon County, Virginia), Pocahontas Parkway (Richmond, Virginia), Teodoro Moscoso Bridge (San Juan, Puerto Rico), and the Northwest Parkway Toll Authority (Broomfield, Colorado).

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: Strong research, analytic, and writing skills. Good interpersonal skills. Ability to multitask and prioritize ongoing projects.

Desired Skills: Strong editing skills -- including proofreading, copy-editing, and substantive editing. Working knowledge of citation styles.

 

Project Number: 22

Faculty: John Gifford

Rank:  Professor

Title: Using Advance Refunding of Federal Loans to Support Transportation Infrastructure Asset Management and Delivery: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Project Description: A deep dive into the use of advance refunding of federal loans to support transportation infrastructure asset management and delivery. Emphasis will be placed on the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a long-term research project, running through December 2023.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: Strong research, analytic, and writing skills. Good interpersonal skills. Ability to multitask and prioritize ongoing projects.

Desired Skills: Strong editing skills -- including proofreading, copy-editing, and substantive editing. Working knowledge of citation styles.

 

Project Number: 23

Faculty: John Gifford

Rank:  Professor

Title: The Fate and Impact of Challenged Public-Private Partnership Projects: An Assessment of US Experience

Project Description: Reviewing the fate and impact of challenged public-private partnership (P3) projects, with a special emphasis on U.S. experiences. Case studies may include Texas Highway 121, the Missouri Bridge project, the Pennsylvania Bridge collapse, Denver International Airport, and the Mobile River Bridgeway and Bayway in Alabama. This is a long-term research project, running through May 2023.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: Strong research, analytic, and writing skills. Good interpersonal skills. Ability to multitask and prioritize ongoing projects.

Desired Skills: Strong editing skills -- including proofreading, copy-editing, and substantive editing. Working knowledge of citation styles.

 

 

Project Number: 24

Faculty: Solomiya Shpak, John Earle

Rank: Post-doctoral fellow, Professor

Title: Political economy of Ukraine in the 21st century

Project Description: Our research analyses the political economy of Ukraine in the 21st century. In some projects, we study the role of oligarchs and political connections, while in others we examine different aspects of access to finance and firm growth in Ukraine over the last decade using micro-level data. In one case, we analyze the effect of a big wave of bank liquidations in 2014-2017 on the growth and survival of the borrowers. In another case, we will estimate the effect of bank branch closures on access to finance and the growth of small businesses in Ukraine. We are also studying the cost of war in Ukraine, including the extent to which bank lending has declined by month in 2022. Using location information combined with data on conflict and damage enables us to disentangle the direct and indirect effects of the war.

Job Description: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc., Translation

Necessary Skills: Excel, knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian language

Desired Skills: STATA

 

Project Number: 25

Faculty: Lucas Nunez

Rank: Assistant Professor

Title: Populism in American Politics: Towards a Unified Measuring Approach

Project Description: In recent years, political scientists have devoted a great deal of attention to populism –– especially the notion of populism defined as an ideology that separates society into a downtrodden, pure “people” and a corrupt, malevolent “elite.” Understanding populism, its characteristics, and its impacts depends heavily on our ability to measure it. This project aims to improve our ability to understand populism by contributing to better ways of measuring it. In order to do this, we will measure populism from Tweets posted by Members of Congress between 2017 and 2022 relying on a combination of hand-coded tweets and semi-supervise machine learning classification methods. 

Job Description: Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc., Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation

Necessary Skills: Familiarity with Microsoft Excel (or similar)

Desired Skills: Basic knowledge (or willingness to learn) R programming language.

 

Project Number: 26

Faculty: Christopher Berk

Rank: University Professor

Title: Governing Children: Legal Socialization in a boarding school for 'at-risk' youth

Project Description: I'm in the early stages of writing a new book on youth politics, delinquency, and legal socialization. The focus of this new project will be on how children encounter the law through experiences with authority outside the police and the courts — in environments like the school, family, and peer groups. One of my core aims is to show how those encounters might support thoughtful civic engagement by young people, instead of rejection, withdrawal, or alienation. To that end, much of the empirical work in this project will center on examining past and present boarding schools for 'at-risk' youth.

Job Description: No prior experience is necessary, but I want to find a research assistant that is dedicated to the hunt! Familiarity with online library databases, prior independent research experience, and a keen eye for copy-editing errors are all desirable for this position.

Necessary Skills: Finding data is a kind of treasure hunt -- you'll need to work with an incomplete map and finishing the task often requires sequential puzzle solving. (What does information 'X' look like? If information 'X' is not located here, then where else might it be? Who might know? If 'X' is not available, perhaps it can be reconstructed from information 'Y' and 'Z'. And so on.)