Seven political science students present original research

After almost a year of gathering data and developing a thesis, seven political science students recently presented their original research at the Midwest Political Science Research Conference at Park University in Parkville, Missouri.

All Drury students in the political sciences department complete a capstone course in the fall and create a research proposal of a topic of their interest. These seven students took their proposals a step further and actually gathered statistics and data to complete a study.

At the conference, students were divided into different panels based on their research topic. A discussant provided feedback on both their papers and presentation, and opened discussion for attending audience members.

Max Byers, a senior majoring in American Political Studies, presented “The Effect of Democratic Party Mobilization on Black Voter Turnout” and worked closely with his professors throughout the research process.

“Voter turnout is one of the most studied topics in political science, so I had to dig through a ton of information to determine what was meaningful and what was relevant,” Byers said. “It was eye-opening to see how much work goes into journal articles.”

Byers is currently an intern for Meryll Lynch and hopes to receive his MBA in the future and work as a financial analyst.

Lindsay Lehmen, a senior double majoring in Mathematics and Politics and Government, presented “Voting Isn’t Fair: The Underlying Voting Power Distribution of the United States’ Electoral College.” Lehmen’s research doubled as her senior-year Honors project.

Lehmen began her research in January 2013 after she studied the power index in her math senior seminar class. In the fall, she interned with the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and had the opportunity to do much of her research in the Library of Congress. She was still enrolled as a full time student at Drury and completed class work in D.C.

Lindsay Lehmen

Lindsay Lehmen

Seeing the presentations from a variety of students from other universities left Lehman with a strong sense of pride in the work she and her fellow classmates had done at Drury.

“It was clear that Drury has an incredible research requirement for their students,” Lehmen said. “All of our professors really pushed original thinking instead of piggybacking off of someone else’s research. The discussant was really impressed with my project and it was big confidence booster.”

Other student researchers and their topics included: Lexi Brewer, “How Internal Factors of States Influence International Diplomacy;” Kate Elam, “More than Material: Explaining Public Support for Environmental Protection in Western Democracies;” Garrett Hurd, “Contemporary Conservatism in America;” Dakoda Trithara, “South China Sea: A U.S. Foreign Policy Dilemma;” and Aaron Tucker, “Corporatism, Economic Equality, and Unionized Labor: An Empirical Survey.”

Lehmen attributes her and her classmates’ success at the conference to Drury’s small class size and the study-faculty interaction.

“Our professors really know our strengths and capabilities, sometimes better than we know them ourselves. We’re not just a number to them.” Lehmen said. “We have incredible faculty that care about our success and I’ve never felt like I was on my own. They were there every step of the way.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, an English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.