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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.

 2019 Summer Projects

Accountability Frameworks and International Organizations | Climate Change and Legal Accountability
Reports to: Catherine Admay
Apply to: admay@duke.edu

I would like to hire a research assistant to co-think and develop two projects this summer.  First, for a book chapter, I'm researching accountability mechanisms that have been deployed in Global Health to track stakeholder/dutybearer progress in relationship to legal standards and policy standards.  What accountability mechanisms are already established? Which ones have been proposed? Do any of these accountability mechanisms provide for scrutiny of international organizations (IO)? How do they account for (if at all) discrimination and negligence in relationship to those likely to be “left behind”?  What kind of legal and policy arguments can be fashioned to hold IO’s accountable for discrimination and negligence towards the most vulnerable?  What will be the impact, in GH and other domains, of the recently decided US Supreme court case on IO immunity (JAM v IFC)? Secondly, I’m building a teaching case combining creative social and legal accountability strategies to address climate change (People’s Climate Case in Europe, Juliana in the US, et al).  A student working with me will engage in, among other things, literature review, memo writing, interview preparation, transcription and analysis, archive management.  Flexible and growth mindset needed and a big plus if you are eligible for work study funds over the summer.  I would like to brief whoever I select for this position in person starting on 7 May.  The first "deliverables" deadline will be May 22.  Work load is front-ended in May and June. Work study students please apply!

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 Developing Consultation and Collaboration Skills (DCCS) program provides English as a Second Language (ESL) and classroom teachers with a framework for collaboration, skills for implementing high-impact instructional strategies, and approaches for incorporating families with cultural wealth into the classroom.  The primary responsibilities of the undergraduate research assistant are to conduct the second-data entry for the classroom observation data, investigate discrepancies, and resolve errors in data entry.  The RA will review and code the school team with weekly collaboration summary forms and research school characteristics.  The RA will also be involved with coding the qualitative teacher survey data in NVivo.  The RA will also help with preparing and distributing consent forms to elementary schools in Wake County.  

Income and net worth poverty in the United States
Reports to: Christina Gibson-Davis
Apply to: cgibson@duke.edu

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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.

I am interested in hiring a student to help me with a project on income and net worth poverty in the United States. The primary tasks are data analysis and writing. The student will also co-author a brief with me on net worth poverty that will be distributed through the Cook Center on Social Equity. Applicants must have strong statistical skills, and knowledge of either Stata or R.  Pending interest, I can also offer the student some additional funding to do more extensive work.  

Firearm Court Records
Reports to: Beth Gifford
Apply to: beth.gifford@duke.edu

We are interested in working with students who will help us conduct a study of criminal charges that involve firearms.  We are interested in better understanding when criminal charges that list a weapon actually involve a firearm.  Students will travel to local court houses and scan specific court dockets and work with a research team that is examining how variation in state laws affect access to guns and deaths by suicide.  

Empirical Research in k-12 Education Policy
Reports to: Sarah Komisarow
Apply to: sarah.komisarow@duke.edu

I am interested in hiring a Research Assistant (RA) to work on K-12 education policy projects.  RA job duties will include: background research, literature searches, written summaries of scholarly journal articles data management, and statistical analysis in STATA (possibly).  If applicant has a programming (STATA) and/or statistics background (or has a strong desire to learn these skills), then data responsibilities can be expanded.  

Social Accountability and Healthcare Delivery in Uttar Pradesh, India
Report to: Manoj Mohanan & Matthew Bunyi
Apply to: matthew.bunyi@duke.edu

A research team led by Professor Manoj Mohanan is currently evaluating the impact of Social Accountability (SA) interventions on health and nutrition outcomes in two districts in India.  As part of this effort, the team is carrying out qualitative interviews with program stakeholders in India.  In coordination with a graduate student and the rest of the research team, we are searching for someone to assist with transcription of interviews conducted in Hindi.  Candidates who excel in this position may be able to continue working with the project during the fall 2019 semester.  Native proficiency with Hindi is required.

Higher Education Policy Projects, including the study of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
Reports to: Deondra Rose
Apply to: deondra.rose@duke.edu

I would like to engage at least one undergraduate research assistant during summer to help with higher education policy projects, including the study of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other projects examining the feedback effects of education policy on (in)equality in the United States.  Duties will include helping with background research, assistance with original data collection (e.g., interviews, surveying), and gathering data from education databases and archival resources (e.g., the Congressional Record, House and Senate committee transcripts, historical polls, archived newspapers, etc.). The RA(s) may also assist with library searches, figure/table preparation, and other administrative tasks.

Parenting Across Cultures – Childhood Risk Factors and Young Adult Competence    
Reports to: Ann Skinner
Apply to: askinner@duke.edu

Student(s) will work with Research Assistants and Research Project Manager to perform a variety of tasks related to a cross-national study of parenting and child adjustment.  Tasks include data preparation and cleaning, assisting with data collection as time and training allows, preparing documents for data collection and conducting literature searches.

Health Policy & Inequalities Research Storytelling
Reports to: Kathryn Whetten & Dr. Hy Huynh
Apply to: hy.huynh@duke.edu

The Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR) in the Duke Global Health Institute is seeking a student interested in Social Impact Communications and Outreach to work with a community psychologist and humanitarian photographer, Dr. Hy Huynh. The student will develop meaningful materials for CHPIR’s social media and website and work on a variety of communications and outreach related tasks for a number of international and local projects, including health disparities research related to homeless youth, sexual and gender minorities, and orphaned and separated children. The student is encouraged to think creatively about ways to disseminate important research findings to a variety of stakeholders and will interact with numerous faculty and staff, providing an opportunity to engage with a variety of content areas, types of research, populations, etc. The intern will also be invited to participate in both broader center meetings and international sector research meetings.

Development of Resource Library for Sanford Committee Diversity and Inclusion
Reports to: Kathryn Whetten
Apply to: matthew.bunyi@duke.edu 

Professor Kathryn Whetten, Co-Chair of the Sanford Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), is hoping to work with a Public Policy undergraduate to conduct supervised research on useful resources relating to multiple aspects of diversity. Working with Professor Whetten, the student would identify several focus areas (e.g. race, gender, income, etc.). The student would review sources including, but not limited to, academic journals, books, film, audio, and workshop materials. The student will also be in charge of organizing and archiving the material in a manner accessible to members of the Sanford community.

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.


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.


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.