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Three Political Science Undergraduates Received the LAS Dean’s High Impact Awards for Undergraduate Research

Author: Troy Rutter

Demarquis Heard and Cy.

A powerhouse of undergraduate student research, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) expands student opportunities by funding a select group of student researchers each fall, spring, and summer.

Since 2018, the LAS Dean’s High Impact Awards for Undergraduate Research have awarded over $500,000 to students who conduct important research alongside faculty mentors. Supported by generous alumni donations, the awards help students gain experience for their future careers and prepare successful applications to graduate school and professional programs. The awards can also give students the financial freedom to choose research over a part-time job.

Learn what a few of the fall 2022 award recipients are discovering about their fields, the research process, and themselves.

Demarquis Heard and Cy
Demarquis Heard and Cy.

Getting out the vote

The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, the Department of Political Science, and the Student Innovation Center have partnered on a year-long innovation “sprint,” called Go Vote 2.0, to engage more students in the election process. The sprint is the extension of a similar effort last year, termed a four-week innovation “dash.”

A group of undergraduate political science students are leading this year’s effort. Three of those students – Demarquis Heard (’23 political science), Alyssa Rodriguez (’23 political science), and Lauren Rush (’23 political science) – earned 2022 LAS High Impact Awards for Undergraduate Research to come up with innovative ways to get more students involved with the 2022 midterm election.

Heard is working to understand why students who study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have lower voter turnout.

Alyssa Rodriguez
Alyssa Rodriguez.

“STEM students and science-minded individuals across the county participate in elections at much lower rates than their peers, so my project has been focusing on why that is and how to remedy the issue,” Heard said.

Rodriguez is engaging with underrepresented groups and discovering innovative ways to get them to participate in political elections.

“I’m researching different barriers that underrepresented groups face in voting, and trying to determine what solutions Iowa State can implement,” Rodriguez said. “Our goal is to increase student voter participation in the midterm election across all communities.”

Rush is reaching out to students in residence halls and the Greek community to entice them to vote.

Lauren Rush
Lauren Rush.

“I am working to increase political participation and civic engagement on the Iowa State campus,” Rush said. “I’m specifically focused on working with students in residence halls and the fraternity and sorority community on campus to increase their political involvement.”

Talking with a variety of students across campus has given Heard, Rodriguez, and Rush new insight on how people view democracy and the election process.

“Coming from political science, I obviously have my own perceptions of what civic engagement means to me, but studying how students view civic engagement has been an eye-opening experience,” Heard said.

You can read the entire article about more Award winners here.