Fall 2013 Research Assistantships

********The deadline to apply for Fall 2013 is Friday, March 29th 2013.*********

All research assistantships for the upcoming semester can be found on this page.  Please scroll through to find one that’s interesting to you.  If you find one, apply!

Students can find the online application here.

Applications are due by Friday, March 29th, 2013 for Fall 2013 research assistantship opportunities. For more information or questions about undergraduate research through the University Honors Program, please go here or contact Catherine Chandler at cbrady@gwu.edu.


Political Science

Fighting Words: The Wartime Speeches of American Presidents 

Professor Rachel M. Stein

The Project: War has been a frequent feature of American political life since the Revolution, and in recent decades, military conflict, either ongoing or on the horizon, has become a nearly constant state of affairs. By one count, the U.S. has contemplated, threatened, or used military force fourteen times between 1991 and 2005. The aim of this project is to describe and explain how American presidents have justified those conflicts to the public by analyzing their wartime speeches. Do presidents focus more on the moral reasons for going to war or do they emphasize the material costs and benefits for the United States? Do Republican and Democratic presidents tend to present different justifications for war? Has the nature of these justifications changed over time as the major threats confronting the United States have shifted? Are some justifications for war more effective than others in creating and maintaining popular support for war? This project will put the answers to such questions in reach by producing the first comprehensive database of the wartime speeches of American Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama.

Research Assistant Tasks: In the first stage of the project, I will work with my research assistant to develop the structure of the database and a procedure for identifying and organizing the speeches. The next task will then be to collect the speeches, primarily from online sources, starting with the post-Cold War presidencies of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Depending on the progress of the database, my research assistant may also help with coding the content of the speeches. Experience with data management and content analysis is a plus, but not required. I am primarily looking for someone who is conscientious and detail oriented. The database produced by this project will serve as the basis of future research by myself and others, so it is important to get the details right from the beginning. During the coding stage of the project, I would value ideas of my research assistant concerning how to code and analyze the content of the speeches. Thus, I am also looking for someone who is intellectually curious and creative, and who wants to learn more about political rhetoric and war.

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 7-9 hrs/wk, 3

Contact E-mail: steinr@gwu.edu


Presidents at War: From Jefferson to Obama

Professor Henry Nau

The Project:  How have different presidents addressed the conduct of war. What threats do they perceive, and how did those perceptions lead to war? Was war necessary or a choice? What goals did they pursue in war?Did they integrate the use of force and diplomacy? Did they seek total victory or look for compromises short of total victory? Even if the goal was victory, how did they deal with what followed, namely peace? How did they win or lose support among the American people for their conduct of war? All of these questions are relevant to the foreign policy debates today. But they were as well at the time of Jefferson, Madison, Polk, Lincoln, McKinley, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy/Johnson. Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and II, and Obama.

Research Assistant Tasks: Researcher will assist me in exploring a common set of questions about the conduct of war across the experience of multiple American presidents. Initial presidents of interest are Jefferson(Barbary Wars), Polk (Mexican War), Wilson (WW I), FDR (WW II), Truman and Reagan (Cold War), Bush I (Kuwait War), Bush II and Obama (Iraq and Afghanistan Wars)

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 4-6 hrs/wk, 3

Contact E-mail: nau@gwu.edu


Forensic Sciences

In situ ATR FTIR analysis of inks

Professor Walter F. Rowe

The Project: This project will develop methods for obtaining infrared spectra of various types of ink (roller ball, gel, permanent marker) on various substrates (paper, cardboard, fabric, painted surfaces) using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectrometry. The goal of the project is obtaining sufficient infrared spectral information to permit the identification of the brand of ink used to produce a writing. Two approaches will be explored: (1) removal of ink from the substrate to an surface having no infrared spectral absorptions in the range 600 cm-1 to 4000 cm-1 and (2) removal of substrate infrared spectra by spectral subtraction. The infrared spectra of the inks will be subjected to multivariate statistical methods for classification.

Research Assistant Tasks: The research assistant would carry out the following tasks: (1) Preparation of samples of inks on substrates; (2) Running infrared spectra using a Perkin-Elmer Frontier ATR FTIR spectrometer; (3) Transferring spectral data to Excel spreadsheets; (4) Carrying data pre-treatment as needed (smoothing, spectral subtraction).

The PI will provide detailed instruction for each of these tasks.

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 4-6 hrs/wk, Varies

Contact E-mail: wfrowe@gwu.edu


Strategic Management and Public Policy

Climate Change – Finding policy and business solutions

Professor Sanjay Patnaik

The Project: Climate change is expected to be one of the greatest challenges for mankind in the coming century. It is therefore imperative to study possible solutions to address this important issue, both from a public policy and a business perspective. For my research project, we will analyze newly introduced climate change regulations (such as the European Union and the Californian cap-and-trade programs) to study how effective these programs are, how they affect firm strategy and performance and how they can be improved to achieve the best results. This research effort is a complex project that will include work on a variety of topics related to climate change and is therefore ideally suited for any student who wants to learn more about this essential issue. Students will have the chance to participate in cutting edge research in an area of study that is increasingly becoming important all over the world.

Research Assistant Tasks: The duties for students will involve a range of tasks, including collecting, reformatting and preparing data, conducting background research (i.e. literature searches, scanning newspaper articles, web searches etc.), basic data analysis (mostly excel), (possibly) some basic statistical analyses (which I will train students in if needed) and exploring new data sources. The projects will include working on company data on international and US firms, on greenhouse gas emissions and on data from international organizations such as the United Nations. Students will also be working with standard databases commonly used in business and finance (e.g. Orbis, Amadeus, etc.). Students who have programming experience would be especially welcome (although it is not a pre-requisite).

Required qualifications: Excellent analytical and quantitative skills; Willingness to learn how to use new databases quickly; Familiarity with MS Office (particularly MS Excel); Attention to detail; A methodic and time-efficient approach to problem-solving

Additional qualifications that are welcome: Prior experience with data analysis, data collection and the use of statistical software; Knowledge of how to use standard company databases (such as ORBIS); Prior coursework in econometrics/statistics.

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 7-9 hours per week, TBD

Contact E-mail: spatnaik@gwu.edu


Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

Professionalization of Foundations and Public Power

Dr. Jasmine McGinnis-Johnson

The Project: There is an anecdote that as nonprofit organizations become more professional there are benefits for both the organization (including an increased ability to raise revenues and hire staff) as well as the communities nonprofits serve. Yet, there has been some contradictory research indicating that professionalization of nonprofit organizations often decreases their accountability to community members leading to more professionalized boards of directors, less advocacy work and less community input.

These assertions have not been tested in a sub-group of nonprofit organizations, private foundations, whom increasingly find themselves facing dual pressures of maintaining their connection to a family member that started a foundation while simultaneously following professional norms, such as attending conferences and joining affiliate organizations.

In this research I investigate if the professionalization of foundations influences their use of community input in the grants decision process?

Research Assistant Tasks: The research assistant will collect data on various measures of professionalization of a set of 60 foundations – including their board structures, conference attendance, membership organizations, etc. This data will be collected from foundation websites and tax forms.

Depending on the RA’s level of proficiency data analysis will also be performed.

Opportunities for co-authoring an article to be presented at a November conference on nonprofit organizations are also available.

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 4-6 hours per week, Varies

Contact E-mail: jmcginnis@gwu.edu


Information Systems & Technology Management

Healthcare Information Technology

Professor Edward J. Cherian

The Project: The purpose of this research is twofold: First to expand on the previously completed research on Healthcare Information Systems which has resulted in a book chapter to be published march 2013, and secondly to analyze the implications of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the subsequent Presidential report on “ . . Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans . . “ produced by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. This landmark legislation and subsequent advisory council review have profound implications for the American healthcare system.

Research Assistant Tasks: The student research assistant will be intimately involved in this research effort in both independent research tasks and in joint tasks with Professor Cherian. Numerous scholarly publications will be identified, correspondence with other researchers and authors conducted, and it is anticipated that development of hypotheses concerning healthcare IT impacts will be prepared. This research effort is intended to result in a scholarly paper suitable for publication

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 10 or more hours per week, TBD

Contact E-mail: cherian@gwu.edu


Epidemiology & Biostatistics; Prevention and Community Health

Collaborative Center on Latino Immigrant/Refugee Health Disparities

Sean D. Cleary, PhD, MPH; Mark Edberg, PhD, Elizabeth Andrade, DrPH

The Project: The Center is a collaboration between GWU and key groups within Langley Park, MD to address the co-occurrence of substance abuse, violence and sex risk – a significant health disparity – through a multi-level community-based intervention, mutual capacity building, and engagement.

To date we have developed a protocol for a multi-level prevention program (ADELANTE) targeting youth and family at risk for substance abuse and key co-occurring behaviors (family conflict, sexual risk, youth violence).

We are currently collecting data on the effectiveness of the intervention in mitigating both the contributing factors for substance abuse and co-occurring conditions and the prevalence of these conditions in the target community (compared to a control community).

We have many more activities that students can become involved.

The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, in collaboration with the Department of Prevention & Community Health, of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (GWU SPHHS) has been funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities/NIH to establish a Research Center on Latino Immigrant/Refugee Health Disparities. The research will address a complex of contributing factors for substance abuse and co-occurring health issues (including family/partner violence, sexual risk, and youth violence).

Research Assistant Tasks: The research assistant (s) will do the following:

1) Assist the PIs and staff with the development of protocols and data systems
2) Assist with formative activities including recruitment of cohort participants, development of survey, collection of survey data, and tracking participants
3) Help coordinate and participate in meetings with staff, community advisors, and participants
4) Conducted literature reviews, conduct data cleaning documentation, create tables and graphics for publications
5) Assist with intervention activities in the community

Desired Qualifications
1) Strong organizational skills
2) Some quantitative skills
3) Interest in Latino health disparities/general health disparities issues
4) Interest in youth development programs
5) Excellent verbal and written communication skills
6) Bilingual in Spanish (not required)
7) Team player – this is collaborative research!

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 10 or more hours per week, TBD

Contact E-mail: sdcleary@gwu.edu


Environmental and Occupational Health, SPHHS

The Economics of Using Growth Promoting Antibiotics in Food Animal Production: A Review

Professor Jay Graham

The Project: Objective. Considerable controversy persists regarding the use of human antibiotics to promote growth in animals raised for food. This study will analyze the economic effect of removing antibiotics used for growth promotion in food-animal production.

Methods. The study will critically review the literature available on cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses of using growth-promoting antibiotics (GPAs) in food-animal production.

Results. The study will highlight the research characterizing the effects of GPAs on the cost of food-animal production. This will be the first study to review economic analyses on this topic and will be of considerable importance in the ongoing global debate concerning the continued use of antibiotics for growth promotion of food animals.

Research Assistant Tasks: The researcher will: 1) conduct searches for relevant research articles; 2) summarize the relevant studies in terms of methods used and results found; and 3) work with the research team (consisting of Hopkins and GWU researchers) to write an article for publication in a high-impact peer-reviewed journal.

Time Commitment, Credit Hours: 4-6, TBD

Contact E-mail: jgraham@gwu.edu


American Studies

The Science and Politics of Empathy

Profess Jamie Cohen-Cole

Description: This project examines the multiple and interconnected roles played by intersubjective empathy in the last fifty years. This capacity has not only come to mark off the boundaries between health and pathology, but has also served as a means for distinguishing humans from machines and other organisms, as a criterion for policing gender norms, and as a cultural orientation associated with liberal politics. Indeed, psychiatrists, neurologists, and pediatricians has used lack of empathy as a marker of autism spectrum disorders, sociopathy, and trauma. Yet empathy has become a swear word for conservative politicians. What happened? Is empathy indeed a marker of human heath? Or is it a liberal value? Or both?

Research Assistant Tasks: The research assistant will help locate, identify, track, and categorize the use of “empathy” and related terms in popular media, both print and broadcast, over the last 50 years.

Average Time Commitment: 4-6 hours per week

Credit Hours Available: 3

Contact Email: jcohencale@gwu.edu

3 Responses to “Fall 2013 Research Assistantships”


  1. Apply for 2013 Research Assistant Opportunity | theUHP Blog - March 8, 2013

    […] Fall 2013 […]

  2. Apply for 2013 Research Assistant Opportunity | University Honors Program Blog - June 10, 2013

    […] deadline to apply for next semester’s research assistant opportunities  is coming up […]

  3. Apply for 2013 Research Assistant Opportunity | University Honors Program Blog - June 10, 2013

    […] IT to economics to the use of growth hormones in food to presidents at war, next semester’s research assistant opportunities are great!  Don’t miss […]

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