Seniors Mariam Khayata and Natalie Smith Present Research at Midwest Political Science Association Conference

Image of Rhodes College student Mariam Khayata
Mariam Khayata

Rhodes seniors Mariam Khayata and Natalie Smith presented papers at the 79th Annual Midwest Political Science Conference held April 7-10 in Chicago, IL. The conference brought together scholars, researchers, and decision makers to exchange information and address the latest scholarship in political science.

Khayata presented her senior capstone research, “To Intervene or Not To Intervene: The Obama Administration’s Responses to Humanitarian Violations in Libya and Syria,” on April 8 as part of the Poster Session “Citizen, Worker, Immigrant, Human: Rights and Responsibility for Justice.” As an international studies and political science bridge major, she was able to merge her interests in U.S. foreign policy and Middle East politics. “As a Syrian-American, it was very meaningful for me to conduct research on the United States’ response to humanitarian violations in Syria and Libya during the first three years of the Arab Spring,” says Khayata.

“Dr. Amy Risley, Dr. Chien-Kai Chen, and Dr. Esen Kirdis all supported me throughout the process. Dr. Risley was my advisor on my research. Dr. Chen attended the conference with me and supported me, and Dr. Kirdis is my advisor and is always sharing resources with me such as the conference.”

The trip to the conference was funded by the Rhodes Travel Fund and the Department of International Studies.

“I am very grateful to Rhodes College and the Department of International Studies for their support in helping me conduct my research and present it at the conference. I was very inspired by the fellow undergraduate students and graduate students who I met throughout the conference. This experience introduced me to the research field and confirmed my desire to attend graduate school.”

image of Rhodes College student Natalie Smith
Natalie Smith

Smith presented “Navigating Specialized Issues in a Generalist Court: The Effects of Federal Redistricting on Judicial Behavior” on April 7 as part of the Standing ePanel “The Various Influences of Vote Choice and Trust.” Dr. Ali Masood was the advisor for Smith’s  research project.

“The political theory courses taught by Dr. Erin Dolgoy and the quantitative methods skills that I have learned from Dr. Masood’s research methods course have provided me with a unique set of skills to empirically approach research questions that have important normative implications for how we understand politics in the United States,” says Smith.
“The Midwest Political Science Conference has been my fourth professional conference that I have presented at during my time at Rhodes. Because of my opportunities working with Dr. Masood on National Science Foundation-funded projects, as well as my own independent research, I have been able to work on and present various empirical projects that range from examining lower court compliance in the American context to evaluating opinion borrowing in the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court. Traveling and presenting at conferences alongside professors at other academic institutions has been the highlight of my undergraduate experience at Rhodes, and the mentorship that I have received from Dr. Masood has encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison beginning in the fall of 2022.”