Research Teams AY 2021-22

These are the teams active in academic year 2021-2022. If you are interested in a particular research area, please reach out directly to the faculty member(s) leading the work. They can tell you whether they have current opportunities available. 

1. Lead researcher/mentor: Louise Seamster, PhD – Sociology & Criminology

  • Selveyah Gamblin
  • Darshaun Smith

Project info:
The Flint Email Lab is a collaboration with the Digital Publishing and Scholarship Studio at the University of Iowa’s library. This project seeks to increase the accessibility of a unique and important publicly-available set of emails on the Flint Water Crisis released by Michigan’s then-governor Rick Snyder. In early 2016, Snyder published a large archive (around 455,000 pages) of emails relating to the crisis from multiple government agencies. Flint residents brought Flint’s water catastrophe to light by conducting their own research and collaborating with experts, an example of the role of “citizen science” in ensuring water quality and access. 

We seek to contribute to these efforts by making the contents of the archive easily searchable to members of the public, especially affected communities. We are prototyping a website and initial data visualizations and analyses, and will keep expanding the website’s capacity iteratively. This project has involved students in conceptualization and execution from its beginnings in 2017. Currently, student research fellows are cleaning data and removing duplicates, testing the database, and helping produce training material and workflows.

2. Lead researcher/mentor: Fred Boehmke, PhD – Political Science

  • Alex Hefel
  • Molly Fischer
  • Lane  Shirrell
  • Dylan Harvey
  • Zoe Lagessie
  • Chloe Weidl
  • Rylee Wilson
  • Olivia Friederick
  • Dylan Hood
  • Makenna Gregurek
  • Thomas Dainty
  • Oskar Kaut
  • Natalie Leathers
  • Samantha Johnson
  • Stephanie Gutierrez
  • Marissa Good
  • Sam Avery
  • Sahithi Shankaiahgari
  • Michael May
  • Elisabeth Oster
  • Olivia Bull
  • Mariah McKenna
  • Caleb McCullough
  • Salma Almanza

Project info:
The Iowa Policy and Opinion Lab (IPOL) studies policy and representation in Iowa. Participants will collect and analyze data on state government policy activity, including legislation, regulation, and executive orders. We will compile and code a multi-year database of all Iowa bills, executive orders, and administrative rulemaking. IPOL will also regularly collect data on Iowans’ opinion on policy priorities and preferences on specific policies. We will use these data to examine the link between citizens’ stated priorities and preferences and state government’s activities. While we will collect data on the entire spectrum of policy topic areas, students are currently organized into four groups emphasizing specific topic areas: race and crime, health and COVID-19, the environment, and social and women’s issues. 

3. Lead researcher/mentor: Elise Pizzi, PhDKylah Hedding, PhD – Journalism and Mass Communication

  • Chloe Clemenson
  • Damien Diaz
  • Isabella Mullins
  • Elizabeth Wagner

Project info:
Local communities are on the front lines in responding to natural disasters, climate events, and other social disasters such as pandemics. The goal of this project is to understand the variation in disaster preparedness and communication strategies at the local level across Iowa. The research team is currently addressing three research questions: (1) How do counties vary in the way that they develop, implement and communicate disaster preparedness plans in their community? (2) What communication best practices are incorporated into community response plans (e.g., speaking to local contexts and engaging local stakeholders)? (3) How do different audiences rely on government organizations, media outlets, and interpersonal networks for safety information in order to develop personalized plans for mitigating risk? We are currently gathering data on seven pilot counties and will expend to all 99 counties in the next phase.

4. Lead researcher/mentor: Mary Noonan, PhD – Sociology and Criminology

  • Regan Smock

Project info:
This project uses data from the University of Iowa’s sexual assault campus climate survey to understand ways in which sexual assault prevention trainings impact students’ everyday practices around bystander intervention. Bystander intervention is one of the most promising skills researchers have found in decreasing sexual assault, equipping students with the skills to step in and help someone when they suspect it may be needed. The project examines 3 trainings completed by University of Iowa undergraduates and will examine their reported bystander intervention practices to show which trainings are most effective. This project will help illuminate which formats and contents we should invest in to create a safer campus climate.

5Lead researcher/mentor: Mary Noonan, PhD – Sociology and Criminology

  • Madison Meyer
  • Lisa Truong

Project info:
Infertility is escalating in the U.S., in large part because more women are delaying childbirth beyond the age of 35 when natural fertility shows a marked decline. Research shows that infertility is a painful emotional experience for women; those who receive medical treatment for infertility also routinely face difficult physical side-effects and reoccurring, unpredictable appointments. Does this “fertility work” hamper women’s careers? The purpose of this project is to document the impact of infertility on women’s work. Working women coping with the stresses associated with infertility will benefit from the insights generated by the proposed study, as will employers who wish to make their workplaces more accommodating for - and more attractive to - infertile women who are pursuing pregnancy and motherhood while continuing to work. Currently, most companies in the U.S. have explicit leave policies for parents and pregnant women, but not for infertile women who are pursing infertility treatment. Leave policies are also lacking for women who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth in the U.S.  The proposed study will help to identify which policies, if any, would allow infertile women to better balance paid work and fertility work.

6. Lead researcher/mentor: Brian Lai, PhD – Political Science

  • Amelia Thoreson
  • Hiatt Holman
  • Chloe Clemenson
  • Kaiya Luethje
  • Regan Day 
  • Reese Bobbit
  • Karla Sierra
  • Elise Cagnard
  • Taylor Maas

Project info:
The international politics research team is engaging in two projects. The first is to collect data on all attempted peace negotiations in civil wars from 1980-2010. Our goal is to use this data to better understand when violence is likely to occur during a negotiation attempt and what factors influence the outcome of these attempts. We also plan to use this research to write about how to structure negotiations in a few current civil wars. The other project collects data on non-state actor control of territory during a civil war. We are collecting data on where rebels control territory during a civil war. This project will look at how territorial control influences settlement efforts with the government, the duration of a civil war, and the transformation of rebel groups into political parties after the war.


Previous Years' Teams