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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

 

Income and racial disparities in the U.S.

Reports to: Elizabeth Ananat

Apply to: eoananat@duke.edu

This research will seek to understand income and racial disparities in the United States. Specific projects will include: investigating how shale exploration increases income among some families, and how income increases affect child well-being; racial disparities in wages in large, U.S. cities; and examining the effect of having married vs. unmarried parents on child academic achievement. Primary responsibilities will include assistance with statistical analysis, presenting results in tables and figures, and some literature review tasks. Students with quantitative analysis skills preferred.

 

Supporting Young English Learners through Teacher Professional Development

Reports to: Leslie Babinski

Apply to: lb107@duke.edu

The RA will participate in analyzing qualitative data and preparing manuscripts about a teacher professional development program to support the language and literacy skills of young English Learners.  In addition to analyzing qualitative data, the RA will assist with 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.

 

The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on American Anti-Fraud Regulation

Reports to: Edward J Balleisen

Apply to: eballeis@duke.edu

The selected student will help me assess the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on:

  • Policy priorities within government and self-regulatory agencies with an anti-fraud mandate (both relative goals and preferences for policy instruments)
  • The composition and priorities of anti-fraud advocacy coalitions

Possible foci of research:

  • Online fraud and Operation Chokepoint
  • Car loan carve out in Dodd-Frank
  • Regulation of mortgage origination/distribution
  • JOBS Act
  • Orientation to International cooperation (FTC, SEC)
  • Priorities with regard criminal prosecution (DOJ)
  • Shifts with regard to consumer/investor education by key federal agencies

Research in federal agency/congressional documents, news coverage by mainstream press and trade journals

The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on American Anti-Fraud Regulation

Reports to: Edward J Balleisen

Apply to: eballeis@duke.edu

The selected student will help me assess the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on:

  • Policy priorities within government and self-regulatory agencies with an anti-fraud mandate (both relative goals and preferences for policy instruments)
  • The composition and priorities of anti-fraud advocacy coalitions

Possible foci of research:

  • Online fraud and Operation Chokepoint
  • Car loan carve out in Dodd-Frank
  • Regulation of mortgage origination/distribution
  • JOBS Act
  • Orientation to International cooperation (FTC, SEC)
  • Priorities with regard criminal prosecution (DOJ)
  • Shifts with regard to consumer/investor education by key federal agencies

Research in federal agency/congressional documents, news coverage by mainstream press and trade journa

American Exceptionalism: From Tocqueville and Lipset to Today’s Public Policy Debates

Reports to: Douglas A. Brook

Apply to: doug.brook@duke.edu

Discussion: Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman, toured America in the 1830’s and wrote about what we now understand as American exceptionalism is his Democracy in America. Seymour Martin Lipset, an American, studies other countries to draw comparisons that characterized American exceptionalism in his book, American Exceptionalism. Pairing these two observers provides an outsiders’ look inside American and an insiders’ look outside America. Drawing on the works of both authors, this project will develop a defining framework of the concept of American exceptionalism. Then, using that framework we will try to identify key current policy issues and attempt to explain them in terms of the concept of American exceptionalism. For instance, why is a single payer health care system less acceptable in the US than in other countries? Why is there lower tolerance for high tax rates in the US compared to other countries? Why do public welfare programs have lower public acceptance in the US compared to other countries? The end product of this project will be an article for a relevant public p0licy journal and a lecture/presentation suitable for classroom use.

Student Research: The principle job of the 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.

Work Schedule: The student researcher will be encouraged to work on a self-determined schedule. We will have weekly or bi-weekly exchanges of written work and conferences to discuss the progress of the project. We aim to complete the main research elements of this project by the end of the Fall ’17 semester.

 

Why do democracies elect so many rich men?

Reports to: Dr. Nicholas Carnes

Apply to: nwc8@duke.edu

In this project, we will collect cross-national and historical data on the world's electoral democracies, with the aim of compiling a dataset that will allow us to answer questions about when and why women, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and working-class people get elected.

 

Understanding Child Poverty and Potential Policy Solutions

Reports to: Anna Gassman-Pines

Apply to: agassman.pines@duke.edu

This research will seek to understand the multi-faceted nature of experiences of children in poverty in the United States, including food hardship, single parent families, and low-quality work conditions. Specific projects will include: investigating how Food Stamp receipt is linked to food hardship, how local ordinances can improve working conditions for low-wage workers, and understanding the role of paid family leave in supporting children and families. Primary responsibilities will include assistance with statistical analysis, presenting results in tables and figures, and some literature review tasks. Students with quantitative analysis skills preferred.

 

Education Policy Research

Reports to: Sarah Komisarow

Apply to: sarah.komisarow@duke.edu

I am interested in hiring an undergraduate Research Assistant (RA) to work with me on a variety of empirical research projects on K-12 education policy. These projects use quasi-experimental methods to investigate the effects of school-based interventions on student outcomes.  RA job duties will include data management and data analysis in STATA.  Programming experience in STATA required (1+ year of experience preferred).

 

“The Whole World is Watching: Duke and Durham, 1968-69”

Reports to: Bob Korstad

Apply to: rkorstad@duke.edu

April 2018 is the fiftieth anniversary of the Duke Silent Vigil. This project is to help collect oral histories and archival materials on the Vigil.  Students would work with Professor Korstad and Duke alums from the late 1960s to do research and conduct oral histories with participants in the Vigil. An important part of the project is to see how participation in campus activism influenced the lives and careers of the former students. The Vigil project will draw on resources from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke and the Southern Oral History Program at UNC.

 

Projects in Education Policy

Reports to: Helen Ladd

Apply to: hladd@duke.edu

The student will assist me in various ways depending on the specific project. For the first project on school principals in North Carolina for example, the student will put together a summary of state policy toward principals over time, will review the literature on school principals, and will help me with some of the data analysis.

 

Evaluation of the Book Babies

Reports to: Nicole Lawrence

Apply to: nicole.lawrence@duke.edu

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 2-year pilot study to assess the effectiveness of the Book Babies program and to track individual level outcomes for enrolled children.  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.

 

Engaging the 'Evil Empire': East-West Relations in the Second Cold War

Report to: Simon Miles

Apply to: simon.miles@duke.edu

Final stage of research for book manuscript on the Cold War, 1980–1985, based on Eastern bloc archival materials. RA would process (i.e. take notes on) archival materials from Czechoslovak intelligence (Státní bezpečnost) archives. Reading knowledge of Czech is a must. Materials are all digitized from 1980s microfilm and would be shared via Box with RA. Flexible completion schedule. RA with overlapping interests would be welcome to use these materials in her/his own research (e.g. Honors Theses).

 

Research on Conditional Cash Transfers for Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition in India

Reports to: Manoj Mohanan

Apply to: manoj.mohanan@duke.edu

This is a new project that aims to generate rigorous empirical evidence from monitoring and evaluation research to support a new conditional cash transfer program that the Government of India is rolling out. The program, provides cash transfers to every mother for registering her pregnancy, attending ANC visits, delivering the baby in a hospital and getting the first round of immunizations (only for the first birth). The program aims to improve nutrition during pregnancy and lead to improved outcomes on childhood stunting (which remains a major problem in India).

The research project is currently in early stages of development. The student will help with development of survey instruments, drafting study protocols, conducting literature searches, and assist project management / coordination with study investigators at other universities and in India as needed. Students will also have the opportunity to explore opportunities to develop their thesis research if this is something they'd like to pursue.

 

SEEDS - Smart Development for the Economy and human Development (http://www.smart-development.org/)

Reports to: Dirk Philipsen

Apply to: dirk.philipsen@duke.edu

Smart Economics for the Environment and human Development (SEED) is a multi-disciplinary project, involving both academics and community members of all backgrounds, in an effort to formulate smarter goals for economic activity and to lay the groundwork for the design of economic performance indicators that actually promote sustainable and equitable development.  Interested students will help with basic research, website updates, and some basic organizing tasks.

 

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

Reports to: Deondra Rose

Apply to: deondra.rose@duke.edu

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 academic year 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.

 

Nationwide Best Practices in Prison Management: Improving Safety and Security in NC Prisons

Reports to: Caitlin Saunders, MPP & Dr. Joel Rosch

Apply to: caitlin.saunders@duke.edu

This study has been commissioned by the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission, at the request of the Secretary of the NC Department of Public Safety. We are gathering and reviewing other states' best practices in hiring, training, and retaining prison staff, detecting and addressing staff misconduct, and interdicting contraband. RA job duties will include reviewing and summarizing primary and secondary literature, assisting with interviews, and managing qualitative data. (fall semester only) rate: $12.50/hr

 

Parenting Across Cultures

Reports to: Ann Skinner

Apply to: askinner@duke.edu

Parenting Across Cultures is a federally funded longitudinal study of parenting, adolescent risk-taking and child adjustment taking place in 9 countries.  Work on this project will include data entry, data cleaning, participant tracking, survey management, and the opportunity to observe and participate in home interviews with families in the Durham area.  Work must take place in the Erwin Square Mill Building, Bay C (2024 W. Main St.).   Applicant must be an undergrad Public Policy major.  More information about the project at www.parentingacrosscultures.org

 

Evaluation of the East Durham Children's Initiative

Reports to: Elizabeth Snyder-Fickler

Apply to: esnyder@duke.edu

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.

 

Orphan Wellbeing Projects

Reports to: Kathryn Whetten

Apply to: mcm102@duke.edu

The Center for Health Policy Research and Inequalities Research is looking for two Research Assistants (RAs) to assist on various projects involving orphaned children in low-income countries. One RA will contribute to a website which discusses OVC research results, policy implications, and relevant news. Job duties will include: website editing, researching relevant studies to share on the site, and writing blogposts among others. Previous experience with website design or computer graphics preferred.

The second RA will contribute to two international research studies. Student tasks will include assisting with project roll-out by contributing to literature reviews; survey programming and revisions; development of study protocols and documents; and data management and tracking as needed.