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April 27, 2018 | Spotlight

Vinson Fellows present results of spring semester research projects

Vinson Fellows present results of spring semester research projects

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Four University of Georgia undergraduate students in the Vinson Institute Fellows Program concluded their spring semester projects by presenting their research results to Institute of Government faculty and staff at a gathering Thursday, April 26.

Vinson Fellows work with faculty mentors on hands-on projects that allow them to delve into the inner workings of government, both in Georgia and abroad. Fellows meet elected officials, examine critical issues in government and education, and investigate international concerns. The fellowships give selected students the opportunity to explore the possibility of future careers in public service.

In his research project, Sebastian Puerta used Census Bureau data to explore factors affecting immigrants’ earning potential. Puerta, a second-year student from Atlanta, found that the number of years in the United States had by far the biggest effect on wages, followed by education and language fluency. He worked with faculty mentors Wes Clarke and Mathew Hauer on the project.

Oconee County freshman Anthony Potts explored the effects of teaching innovations on achievement in charter school systems. Working with faculty mentor Russ Cook, Potts enumerated five categories of successful educational programs that charter school leaders can use to inform their efforts to enhance student and school system achievement.

Aditya Krishnaswamy, a sophomore from Marietta, investigated connections between socioeconomic status and households in coastal Georgia that use septic systems. Working with two faculty mentors, Hauer and Scott Pippin, and postdoctoral fellow Jessica Alcorn, Krishnaswamy found evidence that home age, education and race are significant predictors of the type of wastewater management system a home or building uses.

Kate Ayres, a junior from Dahlonega, studied how humanitarian response efforts affect living conditions in refugee camps. Ayres worked with faculty mentor Rusty Brooks to explore coordination among humanitarian clusters—groups of nongovernmental and international relief organizations—and national governments to deliver humanitarian aid effectively.

The Institute hosts Vinson Fellows every fall and spring semester. The Vinson Institute Fellows Program fall internship is open to all UGA undergraduates. The Institute works with the UGA Honors Program and the university’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute to select the fellows for each spring semester cohort.