Undergraduate Research Program
Launched in 2013, the Clark Center’s Undergraduate Research and Mentorship Program offers outstanding undergraduate students opportunities to gain firsthand research and professional experience that enhances their time-management skills, analytical capacities, and ability to work collaboratively.
Although most students are Government or International Relations and Global Studies majors, we work with students that come from a range of disciplines from across the College of Liberal Arts and the wider University. We’ve even had a couple of students from the University of Sydney serve as Research Interns during their study-abroad experiences at UT-Austin!
Students can participate as West Scholars, Clark Scholars, or Research Interns.
West Scholars Program
Launched in 2021, the West Scholars Program promotes the study of New Zealand in the United States and provides opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to acquire valuable academic research skills. West Scholars participate in a year-long research practicum that entails learning more about New Zealand’s history and politics as well as collaborating with the Center’s Director on a research project concerning New Zealand. Each semester, they receive a stipend in conjunction with their research experience. West Scholars may also receive course credit for their participation in the Program.
The inaugural cohort of West Scholars is collecting and coding data for a study of the New Zealand Supreme Court, investigating the factors that drive media coverage of the Court’s decisions and the factors that influence the Court’s decision-making in selecting which cases it will review.
This Program is made possible by the generosity of Steve and Susan West and their Endowed Scholarship for New Zealand Studies.
Clark Scholars Program
Each academic year, one or two students serve as Clark Scholars. In addition to assisting with the Center’s research initiatives, they develop their own research projects under the tutelage of the Center’s Director, Postdoctoral Fellow, and Graduate Research Assistant. Clark Scholars can receive course credit for this year-long research practicum through the Department of Government’s J.J. Pickle Undergraduate Research Fellowship. They are required take a course on Australian Society and Politics (GOV 365J). Clark Scholars may also receive a stipend in conjunction with their research experience.
For their individual projects, Clark Scholars identify research questions and develop research designs as well as collect, code, and analyze data. They also gain valuable experience writing grant proposals, designing research posters, and presenting those posters at various events held across campus during Undergraduate Research Week. On three occasions, Clark Scholars traveled to Australia or New Zealand to assist with fieldwork related to the Center’s research agenda as well as their own individual research projects.
Clark Scholars have presented their research in venues beyond UT-Austin. In 2015, Conor Danher and Maureen Clark participated at a special workshop for undergraduate research organized by the Center for the Study of Australian Politics at the Australian National University. The following year, Emily Rohles and Darcey Holender presented their work at a similar event convened by the University of Auckland’s School of Social Sciences. Rohles also delivered a research presentation in Washington, D.C. at the 2017 meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Studies Association of North America. Clark Scholars have traveled to Washington, D.C.. During their visits, they have met with officials from the Embassy of Australia.
The outstanding efforts of our Clark Scholars have been recognized across the University and beyond. Clark Scholars have collectively received more than $17,000 in Undergraduate Research Awards and Undergraduate Research Fellowships. In 2015, Maureen Clark received the Mr. and Mrs. Marvin K. Collie Endowed Presidential Scholarship for her outstanding thesis work regarding the American and Australian legal systems. The Global Undergraduate Awards, an international research competition, recognized Conor Danaher in 2015 and Kate Strickland in 2019 as Highly Commended Entrants, judging their work to be in the top 10 percent of submissions received. Conor Danaher traveled to Dublin, Ireland in 2015 to participate in the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit. Mark Werner presented his research on the Australian Senate at the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research’s online meeting in 2021.
Research Interns are assigned to research teams, devote seven to ten hours per week to various research tasks, and attend weekly meetings. Students are involved in every stage of the research process, including research design, data collection and coding, data analysis, and final presentation of findings. On several occasions, the Center has provided students with paid, part-time employment as Research Assistants after graduation. The Center has worked with over 100 Research Interns.
Through partnerships with various programs across campus, students are able to earn course credit for their participation in the URMP. Students have received course credit for their work through the Bridging Disciplines Program, the Moody College of Communication’s Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate School Internship, Liberal Arts Honors Supervised Research, and the Department of Government’s Research Internship. Students can also earn course credit through other programs like the University Extension Internship.
To help students leverage the full value of their research experience for postgraduate opportunities, we require them to participate in a range of professional development activities. These include making use of existing resources on campus that help students develop resumes, cover letters, and Linked-In profiles as well as attending career planning seminars and networking events organized by the URMP. Our “Life After College” Speaker Series, for example, enables current students to talk with our alumni about their experiences in various postgraduate programs, working in corporate America, and making the transition from university life to the professional world. We also bring in external speakers to discuss various career paths, such as the American Foreign Service.
Students who are interested in getting involved with the Center should contact Dr. Rhonda Evans.