Campus News

SPIA ramps up its research enterprise

Research expenditures in UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs increased by an astounding 126 percent over the past two years, and several faculty members have recently been awarded significant grants for projects with national and international impacts.

The extraordinary increase in research funding under the leadership of departing Dean Stefanie Lindquist underscores her emphasis on attracting and retaining world-class faculty members and the creation of a grants coordinator position to help faculty members successfully compete for external funding.

“The recent surge in grant funding at SPIA reflects the faculty’s commitment to scholarly excellence and the salience and compelling nature of their research,” Lindquist said. “We are obviously proud of these accomplishments.”

Some examples of recently funded projects include a National Science Foundation grant to associate professor Christina Boyd, professor Scott Ainsworth and assistant professor Michael Lynch to explore why approximately half of the disability determinations made by the Social Security

Administration that are reviewed by federal trial courts are either reversed or remanded. The team anticipates that its findings will have significant cost implications for one of the nation’s largest entitlement programs and for individuals seeking disability benefits.

In another NSF-funded project, assistant professor Jamie Monogan is developing software that uses a spatial modeling approach to better understand public sentiment and opinion. Assistant professor Chad Clay and his colleagues have been awarded an NSF grant to construct a dataset that captures instances of political repression at the sub-national level. Meigs, Richard B. Russell and University Professor Charles Bullock has received funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to evaluate the costs and benefits of using traditional runoff elections versus instant runoff elections with the goal of better understanding the circumstances under which each election type is most effective.

Outreach programs led by SPIA faculty have recently received significant funding, as well. A team of five faculty members led by professor J. Edward Kellough has received funding from the U.S. Department of State to conduct a series of training seminars for faculty members at ­universities in the Republic of Georgia to build their capacity to conduct research.

In addition to significant advances in research under Lindquist’s leadership, SPIA developed a new certificate program in Applied Politics and Public Affairs Communications in 2015 in conjunction with the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, a reflection of the high degree of interdisciplinary collaboration that Lindquist has encouraged. In 2015, SPIA also established a new polling center to conduct survey research.

“UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs has long had a national and international reputation for excellence, and it has flourished under the leadership of Dean Lindquist,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “With its extraordinary faculty, staff and students, it is well positioned for success in the future, as well.”