William & Mary

Student Researchers Attend, Present at 2019 Midwest Political Science Association Conference

Paul Manna, Hyman Professor and Chair of Government, with W&M students Carl Lasker, Grace Murray, and Devika Shankardass at the historic Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, site of the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association MeetingOn Thursday, April 4, six student researchers arrived in Chicago, Illinois to present ongoing projects at the 2019 Midwest Political Science Association conference. Over the course of the weekend, students presented their work, attended talks on the latest innovations in political science, and networked with academic professionals. The conference presented an ideal opportunity for receiving feedback on ongoing research and added a unique perspective for students considering graduate school. Government was able to provide generous support to these students on their trip using the department’s Michael Sturm Student Conference Fund.

Here are personal testimonies from a sampling of the students who attended.

Vera Choo ‘19
This was my first year at Midwest, and I really loved it! Every moment of this weekend was incredible—from taking the L into the city, to getting lost in the labyrinth of the Palmer House hotel.  This was also my first time in Chicago, so it was a pretty awesome experience overall. I had so much fun exploring the city. Of course, the public transportation is fantastic. We had the chance to go to the top of the tallest building in the western hemisphere, the Willis Tower. There was never a boring moment because MPSA offers such a wide variety of panels. I actually had several dilemma trying to decide which panels to attend. It was really exciting to hear from other scholars about the research they’re doing. There's a lot of specialized work that I hadn't come across previously, so I'm glad I could attend those panels. I had the opportunity to present my honors project in the new standing ePanel format. My thesis looks at the New Covenant rhetoric and welfare reform in Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. I appreciated this new format, partially because my project would not benefit from the usual poster format, but also because it allowed me to begin thinking about my defense. I’m so grateful to the Government department for providing me with this opportunity to attend the conference! It was an absolutely unforgettable first conference.

Devika Shankardass ‘19
I presented my senior thesis research at MPSA this past weekend, and it was an incredible experience in both articulating my research to a new audience and gaining insight into the latest research developments political science and academia. My thesis examines the sociopolitical context surrounding correctional psychiatric care delivery in the United States and I presented during a 90-minute poster session. I presented to people from various backgrounds and educational experiences and it ended up being a great way to boost my skills in talking about my research to a new audience because it was almost a back and forth of questions between me and the individual. I gained additional perspectives, insight, and feedback from a broader audience which provided invaluable benefits to my research, as a whole. The energy at MPSA was incredibly tangible and it was absolutely amazing to observe and interact with passionate researchers from across the world over a common sense of accomplishment and love for political science. This was a real opportunity to apply everything I have learnt through my Public Policy major in a realistic setting and appreciate the preparation and education that William and Mary provided over the past four years.

Grace Murray ‘19
Presenting my honors thesis at the 2019 Midwest Political Science Association Conference was a fantastic experience. My thesis compares the behavior of indigenous tribes, states, and foreign sovereigns in how they submit briefs of amicus curiae to the United States Supreme Court – I had the opportunity to present this research in a presentation format which allowed me to emphasize the areas where I hoped for feedback from my discussants. After a long semester of hard work on my thesis, it was extremely satisfying to present my findings and feel as if I contributed to a field within the larger political science community. Beyond my presentation, it was thrilling to meet political scientists whose research has shaped my undergraduate studies. Attending talks at the conference helped me to narrow in on the relationships I am most interested in examining in judicial politics. I felt more confident about my own work and about my ability to engage with the research community after the weekend at MPSA. Outside of the conference, it was a ton of fun to get to know Chicago and to spend time enjoying the city with classmates with similar passions. I am deeply grateful for the funding provided by the Michael Sturm Student Conference Fund; I would not have had the opportunity to attend without the financial support of the Government Department. It is an honor to be a part of an academic community that prioritizes research at the undergraduate level.