November 10, 2022 | Spotlight

UGA students bring skills to Vinson Institute's research and projects

Institute of Government welcomes new Vinson Fellows

Writer: Margaret Blanchard

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government recently welcomed five new undergraduate students as Vinson Fellows, an educational opportunity for UGA undergraduates interested in state and local government. The program allows students to become involved in training, applied research and technical assistance programs, and other initiatives for local and state government in Georgia.

“The Vinson Fellows program is a great opportunity for students to learn how state and local government works. We’re delighted to have such a talented group of students participating in important research projects alongside our faculty and staff,” said Rob Gordon, director of the Vinson Institute.

The program was created to give students an understanding of the broad range of services the institute provides to help governments work more effectively. It also gives students insight into the day-to-day activities of state and local elected and appointed officials. Further, the program intends to encourage students to pursue careers in state and local government and participate in public service in general.

As Vinson Fellows, undergraduate students are matched with a Vinson Institute mentor to work on an existing training program or research project that aligns with their interests and field of study.

Vinson Fellows for Fall 2022 are:

Emma Griffin is a third-year student studying political science and international affairs. Under the guidance of Assistant Director Shana Jones, she is researching the viability of the electric car battery recycling industry in Georgia. Griffin is the assistant opinion editor at The Red & Black and writes for the Georgia Political Review. She volunteers for various on-campus programs such as the UGA Period Project and is researching the impact international nongovernmental organizations have on environmental terrorism through UGA’s CURO Research Program.

Khushi Patel is a third-year student studying finance and intended management information systems. She is working with faculty member Anna Wrigley Miller on a literature review of existing training programs in data analytics and visualization. Patel participates in campus extracurricular activities through the Institute of Leadership Advancement and Alpha Kappa Psi. She also volunteers with the Athens-based nonprofit Children First.

Becca Pirkle is a third-year student studying geography and international affairs working on a certificate in urban and metropolitan studies. Guided by Associate Director Mara Shaw, Pirkle’s research is on how local governments in Georgia can equitably manage population growth. They are an intern with the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and a part of the Geography Undergraduate Student Organization. They also volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and the Athens Clarke County Trail Ambassadors.

Senobia Sanchez is a fourth-year criminal justice major with a minor in Spanish. Sanchez’s research focuses on the rising rate of the incarceration of women, and she is working with faculty member Holly Lynde. Sanchez serves as public relations coordinator for the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics. She also works for the Georgia Newspaper Project and is involved in other on-campus extracurriculars such as HSA, Capture and Criminal Justice Society.

Gitzel Zaldibar-Anguiano is a fourth-year student studying international affairs and public relations. She also is pursuing a French minor and certificates in public affairs communication and applied politics as well as a master’s in Public Administration through the Double Dawgs program. Her research focuses on the institute’s downtown development efforts and its impact on Georgia communities under the mentorship of Communications Director Courtney Alford-Pomeroy. She is in the Spencer Frye Fellowship program and is communications director for YoungDems UGA. She also is a member of the Speak Out for Species club.

The Vinson Fellows’ work will culminate in formal presentations to institute faculty and staff at the end of the semester.