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Research Assistantships

The Eads Family Undergraduate Research Endowment Fund provides funding to encourage undergraduate public policy majors to become involved in faculty research projects.

(Juniors or sophomores might have an opportunity to build on the experience by choosing to write an honors thesis.)

Please apply directly to the person listed in the position description, providing a resume and explanation of your interest in the position.

2017-2018 Academic Year Projects

Supporting Young English Learners through Teacher Professional Development

Reports to: Leslie Babinski

The summer RA will participate in preparing manuscripts and grant proposals for a teacher professional development program to support the language and literacy skills of young English Learners.  The tasks will include analyzing qualitative data, writing summaries, conducting literature reviews, researching online course options, and proofreading and editing proposals and reports. Organized, self-motivated student with excellent writing skills preferred. $13/hour.

Apply to: lb107@duke.edu

American Exceptionalism:  From Toqueville to Lipsett to Today

Reports to: Doug Brook

Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman, toured America in the 1830’s and wrote about what we now understand as American exceptionalism is his book Democracy in America. Seymour Martin Lipset, an American, studies other countries to draw comparisons that characterized American exceptionalism in his book, American Exceptionalism. The principle job of the student researcher will be to study the work of Tocqueville and Lipset, including reading their books and articles and also reading what others have said about their work. From this study the student will develop a defining framework of American exceptionalism. We will then identify a set of difficult current policy issues and determine whether at least some of the contentiousness surrounding these issues can be explained in terms of our definition of American exceptionalism.

Apply to: doug.brook@duke.edu

Who Holds Office? The Demographic Makeup of Politicians in Electoral Democracies

Reports to: Nicholas Carnes

This large-scale research project involves collecting and standardizing information about the gender, educational, and economic backgrounds of elected officials in all 120 of the world's electoral democracies. Students need to be comfortable with Microsoft Excel and need to be able to work independently. The ideal student will be able to creatively help our team locate, collect, and clean up information about elected officials in a wide range of countries.

Apply to: nwc8@duke.edu

Biological Explanations in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Reports to: Evan Charney

A project examining the ways in which researchers in the social and behavioral scientists have embraced genetic and neurobiological explanations to explain "normal" human behaviors -everything from personality to voting - and how these explanations have influenced public discourse. RA will assist in all aspects of research including literature review and data analysis. Some background in biology is helpful but not required.

Apply to: echar@duke.edu

Elite Philanthropy in a Populist Age

Reports to: Kristin Goss

The research assistant will help research various aspects of a book project that examines the role of billionaire donors (both individuals and foundations) in an age of when government is hobbled by partisan squabbles and declining capacity and when populist movements are challenging elite experts seemingly out of touch with middle America. The RA will help gather primary and secondary materials and assemble databases - in Excel or SPSS - of public opinion, donor activity, and other relevant indicators. We are looking for a student who is self-motivated, can work without a lot of supervision, and has good "peripheral vision" for ideas that might not occur to us in this early stage of the work.

Apply to: kgoss@duke.edu

Johnson Local Labor Market Conditions and the Decline of Organized Labor: Evidence from Chinese Import Competition

Reports to: Matthew Johnson

This project examines how exposure to imports from China has affected U.S. workers' demand for labor unions, and the strength of existing labor unions. The student's primary responsibility will be to merge a dataset on union elections with another dataset to fill in various details of workplaces experiencing a union election.

The student may be asked to also help with a different research project examining the consequences of U.S. firms' financial contributions to political campaigns. The primary duties would involve helping to merge two large datasets together. Experience working with spreadsheets required; experience with Stata is a plus.

Apply to: matthew.johnson@duke.edu

Policy Research Education

Reports to: Sarah Komisarow

I am interested in hiring an undergraduate Research Assistant (RA) to work with me on education policy research projects. These projects use quasi-experimental methods to investigate the effects of school-based interventions on student outcomes.  RA job duties will include: preparing written summaries on the intervention, literature searches, written summaries of journal articles, data management tasks, and data analysis in STATA.  Previous programming experience in STATA (or R) preferred.

Apply to: sarah.komisarow@duke.edu

Book Babies Evaluation

Reports: Nicole Lawrence

Book Babies, a program developed by Book Harvest, provides Medicaid-eligible children and their families with age-appropriate books every six-months from birth until the start of kindergarten. The goal of the program is to provide books and guidance for parents so they can help develop their children’s pre-literacy and school-readiness skills in order to promote success in kindergarten and beyond.

The Center for Child and Family Policy is conducting a randomized-control trial to assess the impacts of the Book Babies program.  The study will include the collection of observational data, as well as the administration of child and parent assessments. Student involvement will include data collection in the field, data entry, and research coordination. "

Apply to: nicole.lawrence@duke.edu

Higher Education Policy Projects, including a study of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Reports to: Deondra Rose

Since 1837, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have provided one of the most significant sources of higher educational opportunity in the United States, especially for African Americans.  Federal lawmakers have played a central role in the creation and development of black colleges.  Moreover, by providing access to knowledge and skills that are central to the capacity of citizens to engage in social, economic, and political life, HBCUs have played a central role in the redistribution of political power in the United States.  I seek to understand the political development of federal policies that contributed to the creation and development of HBCUs.  I also seek to investigate whether these policies have significant feedback effects on the political engagement of HBCU alumni. 

I would like to engage an undergraduate research assistant this summer to help with this and perhaps other projects examining the feedback effects of education policy on (in)equality  in the United States.  A central objective will be to work together on original data collection for my next book project. The student may also assist in other research tasks, including library searches, archival and database research (e.g., gathering historical poll data, archived newspaper articles), and figure/table preparation.

Apply to: deondra.rose@duke.edu

EDCI Evaluation

Reports to: Elizabeth Snyder-Fickler

The goal of EDCI is to create a continuum of supports and services that allow children ages 0-21 residing within a 120 block area of East Durham to become high academic achievers and successfully complete college or vocational training.

CCFP leads the evaluation effort which seeks to demonstrate EDCI’s impact on child, family, school, and community-level indicators over time.  Additional goals include understanding the relationship between particular interventions and outcomes, creating a system for shared accountability among community-based partnering agencies, and ensuring the use of real time data for continuous quality improvement.  Students could be involved in the evaluation in a number of ways including; data collection activities in the field, data entry, and the development of reports for various stakeholders.   "

Apply to: esnyder@duke.edu