Taylor Feenstra and Meg Schwenzfeier, two of the founding members of the SNaPP Lab, were each recently awarded $6,000 fellowships from the Charles Center to conduct research for their honors theses. The Charles Center Honors Fellowships are funded primarily through an innovative crowdsourcing method where anyone, primarily alumni, can contribute to a particular project they take interest in. The website lists a brief description of the project and a video of each prospective fellow talking about his or her research. The Charles Center also has supplemental funds to provide additional resources to projects that are not fully funded through crowdsourcing. Meg and Taylor are both completely funded honors fellows this year.
Meg’s thesis uses a unique field experiment to explore ways to increase the effectiveness of political campaign mail for infrequent voters. Her research could have important lessons for future efforts to increase voter participation and make government more representative. Meg’s project creatively connects political science research directly to the field. Meg’s passion for political participation coupled with her experience in the field complement her thesis nicely. Meg’s honors fellowship allowed her to forego summer employment elsewhere and focus on her research full time, which will undoubtedly help her create an invaluable finished product. Meg claims that her honors fellowship has also given her the opportunity to rule the world.
Taylor’s thesis examines the impact that social pressure has on political conformity. The fellowship was helpful in many ways. First, it allowed her to forego summer employment elsewhere to focus on her research. Second, it helped her pay the tuition and fees for the Summer Institute in Political Psychology at Stanford University. This program gave her specialized training in political science research methods and allowed her to receive feedback from leading scholars in the field on her research design. Third, the fellowship will allow her to compensate individuals for participating in her experiment. Experimental methods are very important to Taylor and she is really looking forward to the opportunity to conduct one, which would not be possible without appropriate funding.
Both of these projects enhance our understanding of the political world and have broad implications. They both make unique contributions to the political science literature and fit well with the research interests of the SNaPP Lab. Meg and Taylor are thankful for the support from all contributors to their projects and the Charles Center for helping to advance their research goals.