I am endlessly grateful for the opportunities that the political science department has provided to its students.
Degree and Class Year
What three words would you use to describe L&C?
Name of research project:
Examining the Relationship Between Campaign Finance and Polarization in Oregon State Congress
Describe what you are researching this summer. What is your exact role?
I am researching the role of donors in contributing to polarization in the Oregon State Congress. I focus on compiling public data, wrangling that collected data into a dataset, and then analyzing the relationships between variables.
What’s the best part of this experience?
I am learning valuable skills in data science like text analysis and developing experimental methodology. One of the issues in our dataset is that we wanted to include unelected challengers, but we needed a way to score their ideology. Our elected individuals in the dataset had ideology scored based on their voting record. To create a counterpart for challengers, we leveraged the voter pamphlet ballot text available through the Oregon Secretary General of State. We are still in the process of conducting the analysis stage, but I am thrilled to see how this next stage turns out (especially after copy-pasting 200+ candidate statements by hand)!
How were you supported in finding and securing this research opportunity?
I worked with faculty members, Ellen Seljan and Todd Lochner, by asking whether they needed support this summer. I am thankful Ellen brought me onboard to this project after we discussed what skills I hoped to develop for my summer before senior year.
How do you see this experience leading to a career in your chosen field and/or aiding in your career development after L&C?
Ellen, an expert on internships, has consistently championed my career growth by facilitating various valuable connections. Through my experience as a research assistant, I have honed my skills significantly, allowing me to confidently assert my proficiency. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunities that the political science department has provided to its students.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Ask your professors, talk to faculty members, and reach out to staff about how to further your future! It will pay off to be straight forward here at Lewis & Clark College.