Header Image for Basic Page

You are here

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.

2016-2017 Academic Year Projects

Who Rules the World? Collecting the First-Ever Comprehensive Data on the Gender, Occupational, and Educational Makeups of the World's National Legislatures

Reports to: Nicholas Carnes

​In this project, research assistants will work independently (on their own schedules, from wherever is convenient) collecting information about the gender, occupational, and educational makeups of the world's national legislatures. I'll give you a country, you'll track down information about its national legislature and then send it back. Students can listen to music while working, and their efforts will ultimately contribute to a one-of-a-kind dataset developed and shared with the OECD and the UN! The job is easy, flexible, and high-impact. Email nwc8@duke.edu immediately to get started. (Preference given to students who can commit 10+ hours per week, and to work study students.)

Apply to: nwc8@duke.edu

Where Does the Money Go? Federal Spending on American Children

Reports to: Professors Elizabeth Ananat and Anna Gassman-Pines, Sanford School of Public Policy

Did you know that the United States spends more money on the federal Child Care Tax Credit (which goes to parents in the top half of the income distribution) than on Head Start, the preschool program for poor children?

Students are invited to join a Bass Connections team (Education and Human Development theme) in which they will collaborate with Professors Ananat and Gassman-Pines on a research project that will document the sometimes surprising ways that federal dollars are spent on young children in America.  The end product will be a report that:

  • Documents all the money the federal government spends on children from birth through age 8, what it is spent on (health, education, housing, etc.) and where it goes.
  • Is accessible and useful to policymakers, advocates for children and families, reporters, and ordinary citizens. 
  • Is completed in time to inform the spending priorities of the new presidential administration as it develops policy proposals for children and families during the traditional “First 100 Days.”

Preference will be given to students who can commit to working on the project for both the fall and spring semesters.

Apply to:  Anna Gassman-Pines at agassman.pines@duke.edu or Liz Ananat at Elizabeth.Ananat@duke.edu

Exploring the Effects of Educational Interventions on High School Graduation and Postsecondary Enrollment Among Low-Income Students in North Carolina

Reports to: Sarah Komisarow

​I am interested in hiring a Research Assistant (RA) to work on two education policy-oriented projects. These projects investigate the effects of educational interventions on high school graduation and postsecondary attainment among low-income high school students in North Carolina.

RA job duties will include: preparing written summaries on the background, institutional details, and history of each educational intervention, literature searches, written summaries of journal articles, and basic data management tasks. If applicant has a programming (Stata or R) and/or statistics background (or has a strong desire to learn these skills), then data responsibilities can be expanded. This would be an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in conducting empirical research related to education policy.

Apply to: sarah.komisarow@duke.edu

Investigating Social Mobility in Developing Countries

Reports to: Anirudh Krishna

In the first part of this project, to be undertaken intensively in the month of September, the RA will assist with preparing a book manuscript or publication ("Fixing the Broken Staircase: The Paradox and the Potential of India's One-Billion”), including copy-editing, working on the bibliography, and compiling the last bits of research material.

In the second part of the project, from October onward, the pace will be easier. In this part, the RA will help identify and collect details about organizations promoting social mobility (helping talented and hardworking young people born to less privileged situations achieve their potential).

Apply to: ak30@duke.edu

Evaluation of the Book Babies Program, Book Harvest

Reports to: 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 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.

Apply to: nicole.lawrence@duke.edu

Evaluation of the BECOMING Project

Reports to: Nicole Lawrence

The BECOMING project builds upon the existing infrastructure of Durham’s child and adult Systems of Care by targeting transition-age youth (16-21) who have serious emotional disturbances, functional impairments and/or are disconnected or at risk for becoming disconnected from services. The program seeks to decrease psychiatric hospitalization rates, substance abuse, criminal activity, youth homelessness and incarceration rates.

The Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke is responsible for the local implementation of a comprehensive national evaluation protocol designed to measure outcomes for youth enrolled in the program over a 5 year period. Students could be involved in various aspects of the evaluation including; 1) data collection via personal interviews, 2) research coordination activities, 3) data entry, and 4) data analysis.

Apply to: nicole.lawrence@duke.edu

The Current State of Civic Engagement in American Higher Education

Reports to: Eric Mlyn

As part of my own research and strategic planning of DukeEngage, I am looking to compile a list of the major civic engagement initiatives undertaken by Duke's peer institutions. Duke has for many years been a major leader in this field, which has grown rapidly in the last decade. A good summary of this national trend will serve my planning well.

Apply to: eric.mlyn@duke.edu

Children's Positive Mental Health

Reports to: Jenni Owen

The student would assist a multi-organization team with the Places and Spaces for Children's Positive Mental Health project. Focused on Wake County, research and related work would help the team move forward with stakeholder engagement. The student would likely work most closely with the project manager.

The student is likely to assist with:

  • Community engagement: preparing for meetings with diverse groups of stakeholders
  • Researching the work of community organizations and stakeholders
  • Opportunities for writing about the project, including possible article for the Chronicle or other media outlets

This would be great experience for a student interested in child and family practice and policy, non-profit collaboration, children’s mental health, community based organizing, and macro level projects.

Project information and list of partners can be found here.

Apply to: jwowen@duke.edu

Technology and Development

Reports to: Ken Rogerson

Student would do some background research on the relationship between technology and human development, focusing on its relationship to poverty and health. Student would be preparing an annotated bibliography as well as researching current examples of this relationship in contemporary media coverage globally. 5-7 hours a week. Hourly pay to be discussed.

Apply to: rogerson@duke.edu

Parenting, Adolescent Self-Regulation, and Risk-Taking Across Cultures

Reports to: Ann Skinner

An international longitudinal study of parenting and child development in 9 countries. Study description found here.

Tasks: Data entry in Microsoft Access (experience with Access preferred, but not required)., and general project tasks (parent mailings, parent newsletter development, etc.).

Requirements: Careful attention to detail. Must be able to perform work at Erwin Square Mill Building Bay C location.

Apply to: askinner@duke.edu

Research Assistant for Data Entry

Reports to: Kate Whetten

Duties and Responsibilities: The Research Assistant will be responsible for completing diverse research activities related to the following studies: the “National Evaluation of the Quality of Child Care (ENCCI-El Salvador)” project; the “Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO)” study; the “Improving Health Outcomes for Orphans by Preventing HIV/STD Risk (CBT II) project; and/or other research studies within the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR).

All work will be performed under the supervision of the Research Coordinator and/or other international sector research staff as needed. This position will focus heavily on data entry; the Research Assistant may be assigned other tasks but should expect to spend at least 80% of his/her time performing data entry. Other assigned tasks may include (but are not limited to) any of the following:

  • Conduct pilot-testing of study tools
  • Create, edit, or update study protocols and manuals
  • Provide logistical support
  • Perform literature reviews
  • Maintain a record of completed activities and progress
  • Perform other research-related administrative tasks as required

Qualifications for Position:

  • This position is only open to undergraduate Public Policy majors
  • Experience and/or interest in international research projects
  • Experience with Microsoft Office tools

Personal Qualities:

  • Extreme attention to detail
  • Excellent interpersonal skills when dealing with co-workers, partners, and members of the public
  • Ability to learn new material quickly
  • Flexibility and the willingness to be accommodating in order to promote the success of research projects
  • managed by the organization
  • Interest in learning about global health research; mentoring provided
  • Self-motivation and high efficiency; that is, the ability get work done without direction but to know when to ask questions
  • Passion for addressing health inequalities and global health research

Hours Per Week: This position will be paid hourly for approximately 8-10 hours per week.

The position will be based in Trent Hall.

Apply to: Please contact Melissa McGovern at melissa.mcgovern@duke.edu. Please include your resume/CV and a brief description of why you are interested in the position.

World Food Policy Center - Planning & Launch

Reports to: Sarah Zoubek

Duke is investigating the establishment of a World Food Policy Center – it will bridge research and policy worlds and connect typically siloed food policy communities: 1) Obesity, overnutrition, and non-communicable disease, 2) hunger & food insecurity, 3) agriculture and its impact on the environment, and 4) food safety & defense. This will be accomplished by via various research, convening, and policy engagement efforts. The RA will be involved in many aspects of our work, including maintaining a list of organizations working on food policy topics, and contributing supporting research (including for initial projects such as: can we make Durham, NC a model food systems community?).

Apply to: sarah.zoubek@duke.edu