May 6, 2020 | Spotlight

Vinson Fellows give virtual presentations about their research projects

The three UGA students selected for spring semester’s Vinson Institute Fellows Program capped their internships by presenting their project reports at a gathering of Institute faculty and staff.

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Three University of Georgia undergraduates selected for the Vinson Institute Fellows Program presented reports on their semester-long research projects to Institute of Government faculty and staff at a unique online videoconference.

Working with faculty mentors, first-year Honors student Zainub Ali studied the border dispute in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, second-year Honors student Matthew Aldridge investigated bail bond issues and Ayah Abdelwahab, also a second-year Honors student, explored affordable housing.

Students selected as Vinson Fellows work with faculty mentors in hands-on projects that allow them to investigate the intricacies of government, explore issues with national implications and delve into international affairs. The internships give fellows the opportunity to meet public officials and explore the possibility of future careers in public service.

Though Vinson Fellows usually give live presentations at a faculty and staff gathering, this semester’s presentations were delivered online due to the coronavirus pandemic emergency. Spring semester’s three Vinson Fellows gave presentations on their research projects via videoconference recently. One of the fellows, second-year honors student Ayah Abdelwahab explored ways to integrate nonprofits into affordable housing efforts, using the City of Norcross in Gwinnett County as a case study.

Abdelwahab worked with faculty mentor Mara Shaw to explore best practices in local affordable housing initiatives. Using the experiences of Norcross and Smyrna, she investigated ways to gain a better understanding of the process and nature of integrating nonprofits into local affordable housing initiatives with the goal of developing a model of best practices.

Working with faculty mentor Ted Baggett, Aldridge assessed the practice of setting bonds in misdemeanor cases in Georgia. Aldridge, who is majoring in history and political science, focused on the potential impact of applying individualized financial assessments to defendants and the effects of cash bail practices in Georgia.

Ali, who is studying international affairs and economics, explored the 2019 flare-up of hostilities between Pakistan and India over the mountain border territory of Kashmir with faculty mentor Rusty Brooks. She tracked the region’s history, including the pivotal events of 2019 when both countries became entangled in an aerial engagement, and the resulting repercussions in the region and beyond.

The Vinson Institute Fellows Program fall internship is open to all UGA undergraduates. The Institute works with the UGA Honors Program for each spring semester cohort. Visit the Student Opportunities page on the Institute website for more information.


Shown above: At top, spring semester’s three Vinson Fellows, shown with Institute of Government Director Laura Meadows and graduate assistant Bailey Dickinson, gave presentations on their research projects by videoconference. Above right, second-year honors student Ayah Abdelwahab explored ways to integrate nonprofits into affordable housing efforts, using the City of Norcross in Gwinnett County as a case study.