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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.


2018 - 2019 Academic Year Projects


Efficacy of the DCCS Program: ESL and Classroom Teachers Working Together with Students and Families

Reports to: Leslie Babinski

Apply to: lb107@duke.edu

The research assistant will participate on a research team studying the impact of a teacher professional development program on the language and literacy skills of English Learners in elementary schools. The tasks will include designing a website, conducting literature reviews, data collection and entry, researching online course options, managing surveys in Qualtrics, and proof reading and editing proposals and reports. The RA may also assist with data collection in schools. Organized, self-motivated student with web design and excellent writing skills preferred.


First Job Selections by Public Policy/Administration Graduates

Reports to: Doug Brook

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  • Two students smiling

    Bonding over Pub Pol

    Q: How did you get into public policy?

    Daniel: Well initially, when I took Public Policy 155 (Introduction to Public Policy), I was not very sure about my decision ... However now I see that there’s much more to public policy than the core courses. It’s a very interdisciplinary major which features research, business implementation, micro and macroeconomics, and even facets of cultural anthropology. So it’s just a very diverse major.

    Isabelle: I agree. I like having a diverse major because I’m actually a pre-med student but I’m also very interested in other things. So something I like about the public policy major is that you can take a global health ethics but you can also take a journalism class.

    Q: So you bonded over the major?

    Daniel: We knew each other beforehand; we were in the same residence hall in Gilbert-Addoms.

    Isabelle: Well when I walked into microeconomics I was like ‘Heyyy! Daniel!’

    Daniel: Yeah and I was like ‘Isabelle! You do this too!’ Yeah, we bonded after that! I think that’s another facet of public policy – bringing people with different backgrounds and different academic interests together. Isabelle, who is pre-med and still likes policy implementation, and me who is formally interested in West African development.

    -Isabelle Doan & Daniel Ntim (PPS’20)

    Explore more #HumansofDukeSanford stories.

Apply to: doug.brook@duke.edu

This project aims to identify and analyze the first job choices, by sector, of MPP and MPA graduates. This research is in the beginning stages of data collection. The job of the Undergraduate Research Assistant will be to collect as much data as possible from internet sources, school reports, and individual school requests. We'll then collate the data and do some statistical analysis to identify major trends, similarities and differences.


Genetic and Biological Explanations of Complex Human Behavior

Reports to: Evan Charney

Apply to: echar@duke.edu

A book-length project critically evaluating recent research in the behavioral and social sciences (e.g., psychology, political science, economics, sociology) purporting to identify genetic and biological bases of complex human behavior. The Research Assistant will be involved in locating, reading, and writing short synopses of relevant published research papers as well as more popular writings on this topic, and entering the material into a bibliographic database. Some background in genetics, biology, and psychology might be helpful but is by no means required.


Head Injuries and the SES of College Football Recruits

Reports to: Charles Clotfelter

Apply to: charles.clotfelter@duke.edu

The growing concern about head injuries in football may be influencing the decisions of pre-college athletes and their parents. If this concern is influencing the kinds of sports that young people are playing, and if it is not felt with the same intensity across the income distribution, the income level of youth football players may be affected, which would be expected to affect the SES of college football players. To see if there is anything to this reasoning, the proposed project will compare the racial and socioeconomic characteristics of college football players, using historical data to assess changes over time.


Tracing Entry of Hispanic Students into NC High Schools

Reports to: Charles Clotfelter

Apply to: charles.clotfelter@duke.edu

Enrollments of Hispanic students have grown exponentially in North Carolina. Researchers have documented these trends and the segregation to which these Hispanic students have been subjected. This present project would look at the experience of Hispanic high school students through the lens of school organizations and sports teams, using a unique set of high school yearbooks as a primary resource. Currently on hand at Sanford are yearbooks for the 1998 and 2007 school years for roughly two dozen North Carolina high schools. This project would attempt to collect recent yearbooks and analyze the racial makeup of teams and clubs.


Prevention and Intervention of Child Abuse and Neglect

Reports to: Elizabeth Gifford

Apply to: beth.gifford@duke.edu

Our team is working with Durham Department of Social Services and the Duke Health System Child Abuse and Neglect Medical Evaluation Clinic to develop strategies to identify children and youth who are at-risk for experiencing child maltreatment and helping children and families access timely services.


America’s Global Role in the 21st Century World

Reports to: Bruce Jentleson

Apply to: bwj7@duke.edu

Research for policy and scholarly articles, blog posts and op-eds, and leading to my next book. Covering a range of foreign policy issues and also the politics of foreign policy including analysis of public opinion polls.


K-12 Education Policy Research

Reports to: Sarah Komisarow

Apply to: sarah.komisarow@duke.edu

I would like to hire 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 R or STATA required (1+ year of experience preferred). Other research tasks include: literature searches and written summaries, and background research, as needed.


Intergenerational effects of the Criminal Justice System

Reports to: Lindsey Eldred Kozecke

Apply to: lindsey.eldred@duke.edu

We are studying how involvement with the criminal justice system can have downstream effects on child well-being. We will extend this research to the civil justice system and how involvement with one court can change outcomes in the other court and/or affect the health and well-being of the participant’s child. The student would work on legal related tasks such as pulling case files from the court, scanning and then coding the contents. They will also do legal research: researching legislative history and literature reviews. If motivated, the student may help author a policy piece to be posted on our website.


Research Projects in Education Policy

Reports to: Helen Ladd, Professor Emerita

Apply to: hladd@duke.edu

There will be a variety of different projects throughout the year, all relating to education policy. My two main active projects for the fall are about school finance and school principals in North Carolina. For the project on school finance, I would prefer a student who is comfortable with data analysis and has experience with EXCEL.


Randomized Control Trial of the Book Babies Intervention

Reports to: Nicole Lawrence

Apply to: nicole.lawrence@duke.edu

Book Babies is a program developed by Book Harvest to provide Medicaid-eligible children in Durham with books and a home visiting intervention starting at a child’s birth and continuing until age 5. At each home visit, Book Babies staff deliver 10 age-appropriate books and model strategies parents can use to engage with their children while reading. The goal of the program is to improve early literacy skills and help to increase children’s preparedness for entry into kindergarten. To provide clear evidence of Book Babies’ effects, we are tracking outcomes for three randomized groups: Babies receiving the full Book Babies intervention of books and home visits (full intervention group); Babies receiving books but no home visits (partial intervention control group); and Babies receiving cash incentives only (no-intervention control group). Students could be involved in the study by participating in data collection, data entry and report development.


On Guard for Peace and Socialism: The Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

Reports to: Simon Miles

Apply to: simon.miles@duke.edu

I am beginning research on a second book, Debating Deterrence: Defining and Seeking Security within the Warsaw Pact, which will examine the ways in which the members of the Warsaw Pact conceived of and provided for their own security in the nuclear age based on international archival research. RAs will be primarily responsible for research in primary sources (archival documents, memoirs, published document collections) and in secondary sources, both for historiographical as well as empirical ends. RAs with overlapping interests would be welcome to use these materials in their own research. Students with relevant language skills are especially encouraged to apply! I am particularly seeking: Albanian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, and Russian.


Research Support for Maternity Benefit Program in India

Report to: Manoj Mohanan & Matthew Bunyi

Apply to: matthew.bunyi@duke.edu

The Government of India is currently implementing a cash transfer scheme to improve health and nutrition outcomes of all first-time pregnancies and their mothers. The research team is working with the Government of India and Government of Madhya Pradesh (one of India's most populous states) to improve the implementation and impact of the maternity benefit scheme. To support these efforts, the undergraduate Eads-supported RA will carry out the following activities: -Create literature reviews – The team will constantly update research questions and understanding the relevant literature will improve research. -Inform intervention design – It is beneficial to understand previous experiments and their interventions. -Analysis of administrative and primary data – Government partners provide administrative data and undergraduate students can help process and analyze this data.


Race, Gender and Education Policy in Schools

Reports to: Sally Nuamah

Apply to: sally.nuamah@duke.edu

Assistance is need for two projects related to race, gender and education policy in schools. The student will be treated as a research assistant with opportunities to do the following: Collaborate to develop short op-eds and summary of research Assist with development of research for book project including the collection of resources and data related to topic Update project website Reach out to partners related to project as needed.


Gendered Health Effects of Mexican versus European Immigration to the United States

Reports to: Jay Pearson

Apply to: jay.pearson@duke.edu

This project explores the health effects of gendered immigration processes among U.S. immigrants from Mexico and Europe. The student research assistant will be responsible for reading and summarizing relevant literature, conducting rudimentary statistical analyses, constructing tables and graphs, assembling reference lists and style formatting for peer reviewed journal submission. The student may also be required to assist the professor in developing power point and other formats for short presentations of the research.


Ethical Tech: Making Ethical Decisions about Technology Policy and Use

Reports to: Ken Rogerson

Apply to: rogerson@duke.edu

Student will be doing literature reviews about a variety of topics dealing with ethical tech. The first will be about children/youth and technology. Others will include environmental related discussion on social media and, possible, terrorist uses of social media. 4-5 hours a week. Much of the work can be done on the student's own schedule. There will be once a week meetings with Prof. Rogerson.


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, including the collection of biological samples used to measure stress levels. Work must take place in the Erwin Square Mill Building, Bay C (2024 W. Main St.). More information about the project at www.parentingacrosscultures.org.


Reducing the Need for Out of Home Placements: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Examine the Effects of Family Center Treatment on Well-Being Outcomes and Public Dollar Costs

Reports to: Elizabeth Snyder-Fickler

Apply to: esnyder@duke.edu

The Duke Endowment has awarded researchers at Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP) a grant to conduct a state-wide randomized controlled study of Family Centered Treatment ®. This five-year longitudinal study will examine the effectiveness of the FCT model on youth, family and cost outcomes, relative to out-of-home placements. CCFP will enroll approximately 750 children/youth and their families in the longitudinal study over 2 ½ years. To monitor progress in child/youth and family well-being across multiple domains, youth and their caregivers recruited into the study will participate in baseline and follow-up interviews conducted by CCFP at six-month intervals for up to 18 months. Interested students could be involved in multiple aspects of the study including data collection in the field, data entry, and report development.


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 educational 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.


Putting Data in the Hands of Local Communities

Reports to: Kathryn Whetten & Christine Gray

Apply to: cgray@chpir.org

The Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR) is home to the largest multi-site cohort of orphaned children ever conducted. The student would work with a community psychologist and an epidemiologist to develop reports of study findings for 5 sites in East Africa and Asia. The project will involve creatively presenting research results so that sites can use findings to engage their local communities. Students in CHPIR are encouraged to attend research meetings, and are invited to attend regular seminars on research foundations that are intended to orient students to many facets of research.